“Livnot opened a new door for me. It taught me that Judaism is about me. My own personal connection with the world. I don’t have to label my self to be part of a community.” ~ E.S.
Livnot U’Lehibanot is an unaffiliated, non-profit organization that has been running co-ed Israel experience programs since 1980. The programs facilitate an exploration of Israel and Jewish heritage through hiking, community service, seminars, and meaningful interactions with native and immigrant Israelis. Livnot programming is geared for Jewish adults with little Jewish background.
Livnot U’Lehibanot (Hebrew for To Build and Be Built) refers to the physical contribution of participants to building the Land of Israel, and to the knowledge and experiences they gain during the program. When Livnot first started in the home of Aharon and Miriam Botzer, it included excavating and rebuilding the ruins of the Old City of Tzfat, hiking through Israel, and studying Jewish values in experiential classes, engaging discussions and interactive workshops. Livnot offered the only Israel experience program that included spiritual content, without promoting a specific religious observance.
Since its inception more than 30 years ago, Livnot volunteers have made significant contributions to Israel during times of crisis. Renovating bomb shelters and delivering emergency provisions of food and water are two notable examples. Our volunteers have also been responsible for many Western Wall tunnel excavations, as well as aiding in the absorption of Ethiopian immigrants.
The contemporary Livnot program maintains the same focus as the original, but now includes a much wider variety of volunteer activities. Our fascinating seminar topics span “My Judaism,” “Jewish Perspectives on Relationships and Sexuality,” “Challah Baking” and much more, all with an open floor for questions and discussions. With a campus situated in Tzfat, the world center of Kabbalah, participants have the unique opportunity to explore this mystical, beautiful city on a daily basis. In addition to our week- and month-long programs, Livnot U’Lehibanot engages individuals and groups of volunteers in meaningful community service projects, now operating in seven cities throughout Israel. Livnot also works toward the preservation and rebuilding of 16th-century Tzfat: it’s Kahal excavations were recently declared a National Heritage Site, and are being developed for educational tourism.