Over the summer we ran our Mountains & Mystics extensions with Birthright Israel Plus, our Northern Exposure programs, Shabbatonim for Onward Israel, Jewish Service Learning programs for many groups, including the Chetz v’Keshet scouts, and hundreds of experiential learning activities for thousands of participants.

Here are some highlights:

Our first round of Birthright Israel Plus extensions, with 7-days of Livnot love and learning, Shabbat celebration and providing a deep Jewish experience. We ran 4 programs this summer in partnership with the OU’s Israel Free Spirit. Here are what the chevre had to say about if and how it added to their Israel experience:

“Judaism is not what I thought, much more spirit” – R.T.

“Yes, it gave me insight into the ways Israelis go about their everyday lives and connection to the religion.” – S.A.

“Yes! I feel so enlightened” – E.S.

“Yes, it made my Israel experience so much better.” – C.F.

“Personally, I found Livnot to be more spiritual than the Birthright programs. It really opened my mind to a whole different side of Judaism.” – B.D.

“yes it was a great spiritual/relaxing way to end it”

“Yes. It was very thought provoking.” – G.B.

Absolutely. I learned more “why” and was able to connect to Judaism in an accessible way.

“I feel more connected and I understand more about the people and their culture”

“Yes, I loved learning about spirituality”

“Yes, it gave me a new outlook.” – C.C.

“100%! Everyday was nice interactive with everyone and doing activities” – M.G.

“Yes!! Israel is a spiritual place. Taglit is very educational, but doesn’t illuminate this aspect as much as it could due to the programs pace. This filled that void.” – J.M.

“Gave my trip beautiful days of rest, knowledge and friendship.”

“Yes, cause I’ve learned how people from Tzfat live Judaism” – D.S.

“YES VERY positively. I learned about things I could never know on my own in the US. Greatly added to my world view.” – S.S.

“Definitely yes. It gave me a new perspective of community.”

“Spiritual side of Judaism which was necessary.”

Two Spiritual Shabbatonim for Onward Israel (an 8 week summer internship) with over 85 participants each. They hiked, painted with Tzfat artists, learned Kabbalistic insights, explored their Judaism, and had this to say about how it added to their Israel experience:

“Staying in Tel Aviv is amazing but very secular, and this trip added a whole new spiritual component to my experience here.” -A.G.

“I needed the spiritual connection which was hard to find on my own in Israel.” – L.H.

“Yes, because before this I hadn’t had an amazing shabbat yet on the trip.” – J.W.

“It was very relaxing and a refreshing experience. It reminded me why I enjoy being Jewish.”

“It was the perfect mix of fun, resting, and religion and spirituality/meditation that I came to Tzfat for. – T.P.

The conversations with my peers and staff & disconnecting from technology. – S.K.

The meaning of Judaism is different for everyone – H.W.

“A renewed sense of Jewish community since my program is very secular.” – R.L.

“Taking time out of every week to spend time w/ the people around you and appreciate what you have is important.”

“→ Spirituality is personal, it’s a process, it’s everchanging. → keep asking questions, keep speaking up, be proud to be Jewish.” – H.B.

“I missed connecting w/ myself, nature, & Judaism.” – R.L.

“Shabbat in Jerusalem is serious and judgmental but it isn’t like that here.” – S.H.

“I was reminded of how much I love Israel.” – M.W.

“I got to feel an important part of Israel.” – T.A.

“It allowed me to see a more spiritual side and make that connection to Israel.” – S.K.


Written by 

Originally from Syracuse, NY, Meir received his BA in American History and Political Science from Tulane University and his MS in Resource Management from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry. He arrived in Israel in 1992, served in the Nahal Infantry Unit before moving to Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu. On Kibbutz, Meir was Assistant Manager of the... Read More

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