Livnot’s Impact on the Jewish world
Livnot’s impact on the Israel experience sets the groundwork for continued connection through Alumot, Livnot’s alumni association. This is a grass-roots organization that injects meaningful Jewish activities into the daily routine back home through Shabbat and social gatherings, retreats, holiday celebrations, and service to the community. Over 1,000 Livnot alumni have gone on to become active professionals throughout North American Jewish communities including Federations, Hillels, JCCs, ADL, Birthright NEXT, BBYO, synagogues and day schools.
Livnot has partnered with the Joint Distribution Committee and municipalities of seven cities in Israel to renovate the homes of elderly, disabled and disadvantaged. Volunteers from around the world have aided Livnot in restoring dignity and quality of life to these segments of Israel’s population. All repair projects, done with referrals from municipal social workers, are performed by Livnot’s skilled work foremen, along with the assistance of volunteers.
Tzfat and the Galilee offer incredible educational and identity-building opportunities for the Jewish People. Livnot has been utilizing these since 1980 and is now working to create the Galilee Heritage & Preservation Center. This Center represents a partnership between Livnot, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Tzfat Municipality and other government agencies. The hub of this project, in the Old City of Tzfat, is the Kahal. The Kahal is Livnot’s 16th century neighborhood, now being reconstructed. This Center will provide educational activities and experiences in the spirit of Jewish life from the Middle Ages.
The Livnot Community Service Program was founded in Jerusalem in 1993, in response to the dire need for basic home repairs for thousands of Israeli families living in dilapidated, unhealthy and unsafe homes. Today, the initiative has grown to include seven cities, and we have repaired 2,700 homes – with the assistance of over 24,000 volunteers from Israel and abroad. We extend our services, at no cost to the recipients, to the elderly, indigent, handicapped, single parent families, new immigrants and families of victims of terror.
After the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Livnot’s Project Resilience renovated over 200 bomb shelters throughout Northern Israel. There are still many shelters in educational institutions that are unusable. Livnot continues repairing bomb shelters for future emergencies while, at the same time, converting them into useful community spaces serving the neighborhood residents. Today, shelters repaired by Livnot are being used for dance, art and exercise classes, children’s storytimes, and after-school homework centers.
In addition to enjoying the beauty of Israel and trekking its hills and valleys, these are important opportunities for experiential learning and discussion. Much of the educational component at Livnot takes place during these hikes, using sources that teach Jewish values from elements of nature, specifically relating to personal growth and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world).
During Livnot Israel experience programs we build up to Shabbat in a number of ways, connecting Shabbat as an important part of Jewish history at specific historical sites (Bar Kochba caves, ancient synagogues) and through material and spiritual preparations. These preparations are focused on a variety of activities that are used as learning tools which are easily translated into the participant’s life back home and include making Challah from scratch, theatrical expression, “Words of Wisdom,” and songs–some of which were composed in Tzfat, like Lecha Dodi.