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Livnot U'Lehibanot

About

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.

Website
www.livnot.org
Headquarters

United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Olivia
10/10
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!
Default avatar
Ari
9/10
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
Default avatar
Dorian
10/10
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.

Default avatar
Alexa
9/10
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.
Default avatar
Jeff
10/10
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.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Jenna Rose

Jenna is originally from Connecticut but spent the last 6 years of her life in Baltimore, Maryland. When she made the trip to Israel in 2009, she had graduated college and was about to start a year of service with AmeriCorps.
Jenna learned about herself and Israel while volunteering

In truth, I didn't have any desire to go to Israel. I had done a lot of traveling and Israel wasn't high on my priority list after I had an unpleasant Hebrew school experience. My cousin and I wanted to travel together, however, and she insisted I come on this program with her. She had been to Israel before and had a special connection to the country that she wanted to share with me. I decided it would be worth it to see a new place and get to bond with my cousin but had no high hopes for my experience. I was happily very mistaken.

Morning: Our day to day activities consisted of waking up and taking turns cooking breakfast for the whole group (which can vary anywhere from 5 - 25 people). We ate most of our meals together as a community and watched and discussed the news every morning.

Afternoon: Afterwards, we either went off to do some community service in the area or a beautiful hike. Some examples of the community service we did were cleaning up a low income, immigrant village, singing to elderly people in a home, playing with children in an Ethiopian Absorption Center, painting a school, and helping to renovate a bomb shelter. The hikes we went on were guided by some of the most amazing guides and people I've ever met. Not only did they know seemingly everything about the area we were in (which is impressive in a land with so much history!) but were interested in our lives, what had brought us here, and open about their own experiences. I had many conversations about the meaning of life while hiking down the side of a mountain on that trip.

The program also consisted of some Jewish learning. It was so important for me to be in a Jewish environment that was also so open and diverse. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join the discussion, no matter what point of view he or she has. This sense of openness and safety in this community allowed for incredible bonding and insights.

Jenna and her fiance met and volunteered in Israel

Returning to Israel: When I left Israel after this trip, I knew immediately that I had to come back. For a year and a half, I impatiently waited and planned to come back to Israel and explore what this feeling was that I had about being in the land, connecting to these people. I finally made it back, with no plans of what I would do during my four month stay. I wound up studying with a wonderful community in Jerusalem, traveling around the country, and eventually going back to work for Livnot U'Lehibanot.

It was there that I met my fiance, another Livnot alum who had a very similiar experience to my own and had decided to move to Israel. We are getting married at the end of this month and planning to live and start a family in Israel. Because of Livnot, I have gotten to know myself in ways I never thought possible, have met some of my favorite people in the world, and have found where I am truly at home. I could not recommend this program more for someone who wants an off the beaten track, meaningful way to experience Israel and meet an amazing community of people.

Staff Interviews

These 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.