After finishing Birthright, I spent a month living in Tel Aviv

Braiding challah in Tzfat…and enjoying the Israeli city life of restaurants, cafes, beaches, and nightclubs. Coming to Livnot, I had the expectation of killing a few days, then cutting the program short and rushing back to Tel Aviv to celebrate White Nights. Today should have been the day I left, but instead I find myself still in Tzfat braiding Challah. I believe this speaks volumes of the quality of this program. But what is it that separates Livnot from the smorgasbord of other programs Israel offers?

First, if there ever were a Chasidic Woodstock, I would dub Tzfat the location. The people, the streets, the food etc. welcome you with warmth equal to the effortless wind that blows from every corner of this mountaintop city. It is a must see!

Hiking in IsraelSecond, the variety of activities helps create a fluid, yet busy week. Whether I was hiking through Israeli valleys, jumping into fresh water springs, excavating ancient Jewish ruins, tanning at the Galilee Sea, or learning where I fit in the Jewish Community, I never felt bored. Although the group partakes in a busy schedule, each experience invigorates you for the next one, and luckily free time gets woven into the itinerary.

Third, similar to Birthright, bonding occurs rapidly. This is not limited to only program attendees, but also the staff who opens your eyes to a side of Judaism you may not have been exposed to before. I am not talking about coercion or anything slightly forceful, but instead an opportunity to get to know another facet of your own people. You will realize the community you create becomes an open forum for you to discover something else about others, and on an even deeper level – yourself.

Tel Aviv is awesome, no doubt. But if I did not include Livnot in my experience while in Israel, something crucial would be missing. I am talking about the comfort of spirituality – an intrinsic component in discovering your homeland. In the end, just sitting on the Livnot Campus Balcony and feeling the cool breeze wrap you in its embrace will make this one week worth all your while. I promise.

-Michael Busiashvili (NE66)

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