לבנות ולהבנות צפת
Leev’nout U’Le-hee-baanot, Leev’nout, Levnot
Livnot, To Build and Be Built
Israel Experience Program for young Jewish adults in Safed and Jerusalem.
Since 1980 a large number of young Jewish, mostly in their 20's have experienced the Livnot U’Lehibanot program in Safed and Jerusalem. The livnot program offers participants the opportunity to volunteer, excavate, hike, learn and connect with the local community in a non-denominational atmosphere of questioning and mutual exploration.
Livnot opened in 1980 when a group of young adults, interested in participating in a dynamic and Zionistic Israel experience program, gathered to excavate buildings which had been buried by earthquakes yet still existed under the rebuilt Old Jewish Quarter
of Tzfat. The three-month Livnot U'Lehibanot program included the physical work of excavating and rebuilding these ruins along with hiking through Israel’s North and studying elements of Judaism through experiential classes, discussions, seminars and workshops.
The Livnot project offered the only Israel experience program which included spiritual content yet was not geared towards promoting a specific religious observance.
 Contemporary Program
The contemporary Livnot program maintains the same focus as the original program but includes a wider variety of activities with a strong emphasis on volunteerism and community involvement. The program has expanded to include more “Tikkun Olam” -- repairing the world through service -- activities. The original Livnot goal of encouraging each participant to build his or her own Jewish identity remains the ultimate focus of the program.
Livnot U'Lehibanot participants spend approximately a third of their program experience involved in community service. As the Safed municipality and other “hessed” -- charity -- organizations became acquainted with Livnot they began to turn to the “chevre” -- participants -- when volunteers were needed. Throughout the years Livnot chevre had engaged in a wide variety of hessed tasks, in addition to the excavations. Some of the volunteer work includes working at the local Ethiopian Absorption Center
, repairing homes of elderly and disabled individuals, tutoring at schools, developing public environmental projects, renovating bomb shelters, building parks and other public spaces and more.
A central element of the Livnot program is the hiking component. Chevre participate in several hikes every week, including, for longer programs, overnight desert hikes and three-day sea-to-sea hikes. Much of the “learning” that occurs during a Livnot program takes place during the hikes as participants discuss the elements of the Land of Israel and relate it to the story of the Jewish people and each individual’s Jewish identity and heritage.
Learning at Livnot takes the form of experiential and interactive activities designed to encourage individuals to personalize their encounters with Israel and new Jewish concepts. Chevre create their own Words of Wisdom for Friday night dinners, engage in discussions with local scholars and artists and question the fundamentals of Judaism as they explore their own place in the Jewish World. Livnot is a Zionistic program and promotes a connection with the Land and State of Israel. Beyond that, Livnot presents Judaism as a “supermarket” of ideas which each person should examine as he chooses his own Jewish path.
 Emergency Involvement
Since 1980 Livnot chevre have played an important part in various emergency events which have occurred while they were in Tzfat. In 1982 participants assisted families who were affected by the Lebanon War. Beginning in 1984 Livnot chevre have served as some of the most consistent volunteers helping new Ethiopian immigrants. The Livnot program continued to run through the 1991 Gulf War and again chevre provided aid to families who needed assistance. In 2006 the Livnot campus became the volunteer headquarters of Safed during the Second Lebanon War
. The work crew hooked up water and electricity in bomb shelters throughout the city while the Livnot office functioned as the social services center of the city. Chevre and other volunteers moved around the city, bringing food and medicine to residents who were isolated in their homes. Following the war Livnot participants renovated over 200 bomb shelters in the Tzfat-Hatzor-Kiryat Shmoneh area.