Laurie Rappeport of Livnot U’Lehibanot shares a bit about her work in this guest blog. For more information, please visit this website.
“Livnot U’Lehibanot” is an Israel Experience Program offering volunteering and hiking programs in Northern Israel for young Jewish adults since 1980. Livnot (literally “To Build and Be Built”) is unique in that it provides opportunities for participants to explore Israel through hiking, community service, archaeological excavations, and workshops—and is specifically geared to young Jewish adults in their 20s who have little or no Jewish background or affiliation but who are interested in exploring their heritage, and who can join the open Livnot environment of an immersive Jewish community living experience.
Livnot is located in the mountain town of Tzfat and offers participants the opportunity to integrate into the “real Israel” by interacting with local residents as they participate in a wide range of experiential activities. The subsidized Livnot programs are offered as both one- and four-week Israel Experience. During each program the participants learn about the day-to-day lives of Israelis, the Land of Israel, and Judaism through a variety of events and encounters. It is a proven transformative opportunity for young Jewish people to come together, live in a communal Jewish atmosphere, and experience a Jewish life with Jewish peers for one or more weeks. The whole thrust of the program is to break down barriers and make the program, and Judaism, as accessible as possible to as many young Jewish adults as possible.
Livnot’s subsidized programs provide opportunities for participants to explore issues and questions that relate to Jewish philosophies, beliefs, and traditions as each individual considers how to find his or her own place in the Jewish world. The programs present different aspects of Jewish ways of life and beliefs through the classes, which are taught by staff members, local artists, scholars, and community members with differing perspectives of Jewish life and religious observance. They are not “religious” programs but allow each individual to acquire experiences and information that will give them tools to explore their own Judaism. Seminar and class subjects range widely including “Art, Music and Me” (connecting the physical and the spiritual in Judaism), “Judaism and the Environment” (including what we learn about Judaism from the plants and animal life of the Land of Israel) and a “Tzfat Library Workshop” in which the writings of Tzfat sages are explored as they relate to our lives and values today.
Some recent quotes from Summer 2012 evaluations:
J.S. “Livnot added a more focused opportunity to discuss and explore my Judaism and Israel”
R.A. “This program has opened my eyes to so many things and has been an opportunity to take a step back and think about my Jewish identity.”
R.B.” The Livnot program and staff are incredibly amazing. I’ve had an awesome time here and wouldn’t change it for the world. Keep up the good work. Livnot Rocks!”
M.D. “Thank you so much to everyone who made Livnot possible for me. It was exactly what I needed at the right time. Almost every day, during most of the activities, I would stop and think to myself “this is amazing; I can’t believe that I’m actually here doing these things.” This has literally been one of, if not the absolute, best month of my life. I’ve become a much better person because of Livnot. Thank you!!!”