Alumni Spotlight- Joshua Katz

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.
Shayna Rehberg
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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.