Our Family

With years of experience and dedication, our professional staff is committed to bringing Livnot’s vision to life each day.  We invite you to get to know some of the Livnot family:


Aharon Botzer

Founder & Executive Director

Aharon Botzer and his wife Miriam founded Livnot U’Lehibanot in 1980.  He has served since 1980 as the organization’s visionary, and has dedicated his life to continually developing the organization’s unique programs to strengthen Jewish identity among the unaffiliated. His creativity and wisdom are the driving forces behind Livnot’s growth and expansion, both in programs and in the potential of tapping into Livnot’s many assets and resources.

Aharon was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and has a B.A. in Education from Ohio University.  He spent over a year hitchhiking and travelling in Central America, coming to the realization that being a Jew is a privileged, prized possession.   He came to Israel in 1971 to study in Yeshiva, eventually coming to Tzfat, to teach English and Geography to high school students.  He has been a licensed tour guide since 1984.

Aharon served as a non-combatant during his regular army service, and until age 56, he volunteered to serve in an infantry unit.

Miriam and Aharon are blessed with  7 children and many, many grandchildren.


Meir Paltiel

Director of Programs & Alumni

Originally from Syracuse, NY, Meir received his B.A. in American History and Political Science from Tulane University and his MS in Resource Management from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry. He arrived in Israel in 1992, served in the Nahal Infantry Unit before moving to Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu. On the kibbutz, Meir was Assistant Manager of the Fisheries.

Currently, Meir oversees the facilitation and logistics of Livnot programs and has spent over ten years developing and implementing service-learning projects based in northern Israel and Jerusalem. Meir and his wife, Nechama, live with their six children just outside of Tzfat.

Michael Even-Esh

Senior Educator & Nature Guide

Michael was born and raised in Kansas City. He received a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism before moving to Israel in 1979. There he worked in a kibbutz date-palm grove, spent time as a shepherd in the Galilee, served in the IDF Paratroops, was a nature guide in the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, led Bar Kochba Tunnel exploration teams with the Israel Cave Research Center, and was an organic sweet potato farmer. Since 1991, he’s been working with Livnot U’Lehibanot as nature guide, teacher and outdoor educator. (One of the activities he invented at Livnot: “Pirate Rafting on the Jordan River.”)

His column (“Not Kansas”) is written specifically for Livnot alumni, and appears in “Livnotes” – the Livnot email newsletter for alumni. Michael also runs “The Jewish Snake Project,” in which he uses live snakes to teach groups about Jewish Values. He is a Snake Extractor for the Golan Regional Council and the Israel Nature & Parks Authority.

When asked what is the most amazing thing about working at Livnot, Michael answered: “The program participants. Livnot attracts the most incredible people.”

Things he has been quoted as saying:

  1. In a perfect world, your cave guide would not have claustrophobia.
  2. Before you die, try to farm for at least a few minutes.
  3. There is no such thing as a Jewmometer.

He lives with his family (and snakes) in the Golan Heights.


Shayna Rehberg

Director of Development & Communications

Shayna RehbergShayna was born in Virginia and grew up in Texas, where she worked in real estate for a decade and sewed RenFest costumes for all her friends. Living in Switzerland as a nanny, and singing in a gospel choir and a rock band in Germany, were followed by aliyah to Israel in 2003 to a tiny desert caravan community where she made healing oils and cloth diapers while coaxing organic vegetables from the rocky soil.

Since rejoining civilization, Shayna has worked at the Jewish Federation of San Antonio and Torah Learning Center. Back in Israel, her passion for community and borderline-OCD for organization are the driving forces behind her daily activities at Livnot over the past five years.

Shayna Rehberg straddles the Gen X/Millennial divide in Tzfat with her four unique and creative children as an ‘unlabeled’ Jew. In all her spare time she also enjoys music, photography, blogging, collecting knives and teacups, swapping stories, and shopping in the shuk.


Shlomo Tal


IMG_5574767670349 (1)Shlomo Tal was born and raised in Kazakhstan in the Former Soviet Union. At the age of 15 he made Aliyah on his own, and studied Jewish philosophy and spirituality for a decade at various schools around the country. He served in the army as a counter-terror instructor. Shlomo fell in love with Tzfat 18 years ago and has lived there for the last three years as a program coordinator at Livnot, along with his wife, Orly, and their six children. He enjoys music, nature, painting, martial arts, and extreme freedom of thought.



Tzivia Polsky

Office Manager

Tzivia was born in Israel on Kibbutz Sa’ad and shortly after moved around the USA with her parents.  She returned to Israel on Aliyah to attend Hebrew University where she graduated with a degree in Social Research and Anthropology.  She married Shmuel shortly afterwards and worked in administrative positions in the center of Israel. A side trip to Chicago to advance academic degrees lasted eighteen years where their three children were born.  Today they are grown and producing grandchildren.

Returning to Israel in 1994, Tzivia held administrative positions in private industries, and moved to Tzfat to join the Livnot staff in 1996. She serves as the Office Manager, and is kept busy with record keeping, grant writing, translations, correspondence, and as personal secretary to Aharon Botzer.


Lea Saida

Administrator for American Friends of Livnot U’Lehibanot

Lea received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the American University in Washington, D.C. She served as Assistant Program Director at B’nai Brith Women International before making Aliyah.  In Jerusalem, she held the title of Director of Student Activities at the American College.

Lea later returned to the United States where she worked from 1992 through 2003 for the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County first as Coordinator for the Federation’s Mission 500 to Israel and then as Director of the Israel Programs Resource Center.  She has been with American Friends of Livnot U’Lehibanot since 2003.


Jonny Greenberg

Admissions Coordinator

linkedinphotoJonny was born and raised in London, England. He has a BA (Hons) in Town Planning, a Certificate in Management Studies a Post Graduate in Education, Qualified Teacher Status and now has a qualification in Technical and Marketing Communications.

Jonny was a teacher for many years, mainly teaching 7 – 11 year olds in Jewish schools. He was a classroom teacher who taught both National Curriculum and Jewish Studies. He held various leadership roles within the schools he taught.
After 10 years of teaching, Jonny opened up a private Jewish nursery school to cater for the children of working parents. The day before Chanuka in 2011, Jonny made Aliya with his family to a little village in the north of Israel called Mitzpe Netofa.
Jonny handles Livnot’s admissions and is always happy to deal with your applications and answer any questions you have about our variety of different programs.

Bracha Eitan

Executive Assistant

IMG_4091Bracha was born and raised in Jerusalem, the only “Sabra” in her family who made Aliyah from New York a few years before she was born. Growing up with an English-teaching, literature-loving mother and living among Israelis has given her proficiency in the English and Hebrew languages as well as the ability to be a correct and polite American even while maintaining forthright Israeli chutzpa.

After moving to Tzfat in 2012, the Eitans began regularly hosting Livnot Chevre for Shabbat. In 2016, Bracha left her job of six years as a Financial Aid Advisor at a US-based college, and joined the Livnot team as Aharon Botzer’s assistant.

Bracha lives in the southern part of Tzfat (and has a lovely view of the Kinneret) with her husband Tzvi, their 2 kids and 2 parrots. She enjoys painting, reading, and hearing good stories.

Dave Bender

Digital Media Editor – Producer DaveBender

Dave was born in New York and grew up in the southeastern US, including attending elementary and high schools in Florida  and Texas, and between 2007-10, working as a state radio bureau chief and reporter in Georgia.

A Livnot alumni from the third-ever semester back in the early 80’s, Dave – who was raised secular and assimilated – credits the program with instilling in him the idea that Israel was not only a viable place to settle down and make a life, but also infusing that life with vibrant Judaic practice and thought.

He made aliyah in 1983, and, after a five-year stint “greening the desert” as a kibbutz member and doing his IDF service in the Nahal Brigade, he moved to the greater Jerusalem area.

Dave’s responsibilities at Livnot include digital photographic, video, and textual editorial and marketing content conception, creation, management, and deployment including online social media channels and print.

Dave has nearly two decades of experience as a reporter/producer/editor, both in the United States and in Israel as a reporter and editor for radio, tv, print and online news media.

An avid guitarist, he used to lead a 60’s cover band in the Jerusalem area, and has been known to occasionally rock the house at local pubs in Tzfat and the vicinity.

Dave is the proud dad to now-grown triplets and, more recently, a grandfather. He and his wife, Miri, and her children, live in Tzfat, and – among many, many other exploits – both love to cook and host current Livnot participants for Shabbat meals at their home in the Old City.