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Livnot U'Lehibanot


Livnot is the premiere experience geared towards Jews 21-30+ with little or no background in Judaism. The program facilitates an exploration of Israel and Jewish heritage through the medium of fascinating seminars, challenging hikes and rewarding community service projects.

The name Livnot U'Lehibanot, which in Hebrew means To Build and To Be Built, refers to the physical contribution the participants make to the building of the Land of Israel, and to the knowledge and experiences gained during the program.


United States


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Yes, I recommend this program

Even though I was only part of Livnot for a week in 2014, I continue to look back fondly at my time there. Tzfat is an incredible place and Livnot helps people see what is so special about the city, Israel, and Judaism. The combination of classes, volunteering and outdoor adventures were a perfect balance for fun and learning. The most memorable part for me was taking a hike at night. I'd never done that before and haven't since. It really helped me sharpen my senses and appreciate wildlife in a way I hadn't yet. I was even able to co-host a talent show! The variety of programming Livnot offers makes it a fantastic trip for any Jew.

What would you improve about this program?
I can't think of any improvements!
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Yes, I recommend this program

I had the privilege to spend my summer at Livnot Ulihibanot a few summers ago. It. Was a life changing experience. My morning started with the sunrise looking at at the mountains. I then experienced a touch of spirituality, a dose of hiking, and a pinch of volunteering every week I was there. It was really inspiring, and I get excited every time I go back to visit. Thank you Aharon Botzar and the whole Livnot family for everything you do.

What would you improve about this program?
I would to better stay in touch with all of the participants
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Yes, I recommend this program

Words cannot describe how deeply this program impacted me and other participants. I have never learned, thought, laughed, and smiled more in one week of my life. The leaders and fellow participants were all kind, insightful, and smart people. The campus that participants live on is conviently located right in the old city and has a beautiful view of the mountains which is especially nice at sunset. We hiked, volunteers, learned about Kabbalah, and observed Shabbat.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Even though the Livnot program was only a week long, the environment among the people and building very quickly made me feel at home. It was nice that the group was small, so I got to really know the people even though the program was short. We did things as a family, including cooking and dishes, and the communal feel of these mundane tasks made them fun. The staff was friendly and supportive, and introduced stimulating conversations and experiences. I went on breathtaking hikes and felt like a part of the community through the service. It was overall amazing!

What would you improve about this program?
I think that the program could be improved by introducing more community service and ways to continue doing community service.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Livnot is an incredible experience and the best way to see Israel and meet her people. The in-depth program allows you to explore Judaism and the country in a very unique and supported manner. The entire trip is based on volunteering and learning and truly allows the participants to “build and be built”. In all of my many travel experiences (in Israel and elsewhere) no other organization provides the diverse and dynamic experience of Livnot!

What would you improve about this program?
Continue growing and offering more and more programming.


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Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Sarah Schwartz

Sarah Schwartz is a 30 year old yoga teacher and artist. She volunteered in Israel from Dec.5, 2011 to January 1st, 2012.
Menorah in Israel

Why did you decide to volunteer with Livnot U'lehibanot in Israel?

Sarah: My first trip to Israel was six years ago. I participated in Livnot's ten day Birthright Israel program. I fell in love with Livnot's purpose and mission, compassion and generosity. Upon getting on the airplane to return to America from that program, I knew I must return to Israel when the time was right. Even though I imagined it to be sooner than six years, the timing was perfect. I knew returning to Israel was interwoven with participating in another Livnot program, thus I signed on for the one-month Galilee Fellowship program, keeping open the possibility of staying longer, perhaps indefinitely. This time around, as challenging as it was, I returned to America. I again promised myself I would return to Israel when the timing aligns.

One of my established commitments in America is teaching yoga. Teaching yoga deepens my own personal practice with this ancient and timeless art. I strive to live a balanced and yogic lifestyle. In the yogic tradition, volunteering, service, "karma yoga" is part of the system for living a spiritual life. Thus, volunteering, serving the community with Livnot feels aligned with my yogic ideals and with my Jewish ideals, Tikkun Olam.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Sarah: After an early breakfast and discussion of current Israeli events, as a group we ventured to the decided location to volunteer. Several projects we participated in over the course of one month were: painting the corridors of an apartment building in Canaan, and landscaping at this same venue; transporting dirt and rocks from an excavation happening underneath Livnot's campus; sang and danced with elderly in Tzvat's hospital.

What made this volunteer experience unique and special?

Sarah: Livnot U'Lehibanot is an extraordinary and special program in and of itself. So being with Livnot, in Israel, and together as a whole, was immensely fulfilling and uplifting. Being in a hebrew speaking community afforded us the opportunity to learn hebrew, as well as "Israeli" customs. The community often expressed their gratitude and appreciation for Livnot's work, hich deepened my gratitude and appreciation for Livnot's work.

How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?

Sarah: Wow... This is a simple -and- complex question. I have pondered this quite deeply, and realize that my experience in Israel and with Livnot has shifted my entire being... I felt *home*... and for me, as I enter into my 30's, I seek to find *the* place to let my symbolic roots take hold... surrendering to the pull of *place*... nurtured by the land and its people... I felt I could let my roots go, in Israel. I felt home.

Staff Interviews

Staff interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Tell us a little about Livnot.

Laurie working with Livnot

Laurie: Livnot is an Israel Experience Program for young Jewish adults aged 21 – 30. The programs range from one week to four weeks and involve participants in a wide range of volunteering experiences in the city (Tzfat, a northern Israeli community). Volunteer work includes renovating homes of elderly and disabled residents, environmental projects, working in the educational facilities of the city, helping in soup kitchens and clothing banks, visiting the Old Age home and the children’s ward of the hospital, assisting the municipality, organizing projects at the Absorption Center for new Ethiopian immigrants and more.

The volunteer component of Livnot allows the program to accept individual volunteers as well. Although Livnot cannot guarantee campus facilities for individual volunteers, due to regularly-scheduled programs, it can offer to coordinate an individual’s volunteering in both Tzfat and Jerusalem.

How did you get involved in the volunteer industry?

Laurie: The Livnot program began in 1980 when participants came to Tzfat to dig out the 500-year-old homes and buildings of 16th century Tzfat. These rooms have become the dorm rooms of the campus and further excavations are continuing, in which volunteers participate.

During this period, the municipality and other social service organizations in the city began to turn to Livnot whenever there was a need for assistance in the community. Slowly, the community service aspect of the program became an important aspect of the program.

What makes Livnot unique?

Laurie: Volunteering with Livnot is not solely an experience of working. The program stresses Jewish Service Learning, meaning that part of the volunteer experience includes learning about the Jewish traditions regarding charity, lovingkindness, community and responsibility.

In your experience, what characteristics make a good international volunteer?

Laurie: For Livnot, a good participant is one who is open to new experiences, ideas and activities. Livnot makes every effort to ensure that the volunteers enjoy their time at Livnot and try to create volunteer work which is meaningful and interesting.

If a volunteer is uncomfortable doing physical work, even though the other members of the group may be working together, Livnot will organize a non-physical activity (old age home, library) for the person who wants to try something different.

How do you ensure your programs are sustainable and mutually beneficial for you, the community, and the volunteers?

Laurie: Livnot works with a number of partner organizations and foundations which help to subsidize the program for the volunteers (which, for program participants, include room and board). The actually volunteer work that Livnot participants do is coordinated with local social services, welfare agencies, non-profits and municipal agencies.