The Impact that Livnot has had on me: Livnot gave me a Jewish Identity, a knowledge of Judaism and Jewish philosophy, and a vision of my Jewish future. Twelve years after my trip, I am indeed pursuing that Jewish future with a family that has a strong Jewish identity and a connection to Israel. I have taken ownership over my Judaism and my Jewish learning because of the foundation Livnot provided to me. I know being Jewish is MUCH more than Hanukkah and the High Holidays. It’s about tikkun olam, preserving life, and making the mundane holy. I am forever indebted to Livnot and look forward to paying off that debt (though I can never do that fully).
I had my first Livnot trip in 1999 from August to November. It was so life altering that I hadto re-set my entire life’s trajectory: changing my relationship status, changing my job, and changing my name (to my father’s original last name). After re-discovering a balance in my life where my Jewish identity could play its newly found role, I was ready to settle down and focus on a family. I met my wife through a mutual Jewish friend, although both of us were able to see our J Date profiles. After our first date, finding our similar connections to Judaism and Israel, I knew we were beshert. We now have two beautiful daughters: Abigail, 4, and Madeline, 2. Our family has a strong connection to Judaism through our Kosher-style eating habits, our weekly Shabbat rituals of lighting candles, singing songs, saying blessings–and of course, baking challah. I love teaching Abigail about being Jewish by incorporating aspects of tikkun olam through what we encounter: cleaning up other people’s messes, helping others, learning to read, and trying difficult tasks. I say “we do it because we are Jewish.” I look forward to seeing my daughters’ identities to Judaism and Israel develop over time.