Community Service with Livnot

Livnot U'Lehibanot in Tzfat

Long before "Tikkun Olam" became a byword for young Jewish adults who wished to make a difference in the world, participants of the Livnot U'Lehibanot program were actively involved in community service in Tzfat. In the early years of the program, the municipality of Tzfat noticed that there was an enthusiastic group of young English-speakers living in the Old City, and in the midst of digging out the ruins of the Jewish Quarter, they were interested in engaging in assisting the larger community. So slowly, the municipality began to ask Livnot to undertake projects for the betterment of the city residents - building parks, making unsafe areas safer, and in general, beautifying the city. When the first wave of Ethiopian immigrants arrived in Tzfat in 1984, Livnot was one of the first groups to become involved in helping them in their absorption. Groups of Livnoters were often found at the Absorption Centers, leading games with the children, organizing activities, and helping the overworked Center staff to maintain the Center physically.

Someone to Count On

Tzfat's Welfare Department frequently contacted Livnot with requests for assistance, asking them to help repair dilapidated apartments of poverty-stricken citizens, usually senior citizens. The staff, accompanied by Livnot participants, found themselves in apartments of people whose electricity was hanging by threads, whose sinks had fallen off the walls, and where mold was growing out of cracks in the walls. Livnot never turned down a single project, no matter how small the budget was - they helped scores of residents who had no where else to turn.

Schools and kindergartens also benefit from Livnot's intervention. Schools which have not been painted for years, kindergartens with paint peeling on the playground equipment, and yards with overgrown weeds and thistles are all attended to. "The impression that this makes on our children is tremendous" one local teacher said. "They see the volunteers, English-speakers who could probably be doing things a lot more enjoyable with their time, coming to paint murals on the school walls and in the classrooms. The effect is that everything that we've ever tried to teach them, about the Jewish People being One....all of a sudden, it's clear to them that it's so!" The truth is that the impression is no less felt on the other side. "It's the best thing that I've ever done" one Livnot participant exclaimed. "I've never felt so alive! I've never felt so much a part of Israel, and of my people" Which, ultimately, is what it's all about.