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LAURA BELINFANTE
2008-2009

College: University of California, Santa Barbara
Current City: New York, NY

Where are you currently working or what are you currently doing? What is the mission/purpose of the organization? I am the Director of Digital Strategy at Repair the World where I am combining my passions for social justice and technology. I work with digital tools to grow and scale an audience of changemakers online; we aim to make service a defining element of American Jewish life.

What is a fact/interesting piece of information you’d like to share about you since you were on Kivunim? Since being on Kivunim I have dug deeper into my family history and have learned about the immigration journey my Grandmother’s family took from Syria to New York. It has changed the way I have thought about myself and my ancestors - especially having grown up in a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish community. I have been questioning my own Jewish education and have searched for alternative education models, which allow me to honor my own family’s heritage and story.

In what ways did Kivunim influence your path? Day-to-day life? Career? Kivunim influenced my passion for social justice, which I believe led me to the career I am in today. Through our travels around the world, I experienced numerous cultures and ways of life, and it was unlike what I learned growing up in California. Kivunim challenged me to think outside of what I had traditionally valued and accepted, and look for opportunities to build relationships with people outside of our community and to improve the lives of historically marginalized populations.


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AVNIEL JHIRAD
2013-2014

College: Mumbai University
Current City: Jerusalem

Where are you currently working or what are you currently doing? What is the mission/purpose of the organization?
I am a RA for Kivunim 18-19!

What is a fact/interesting piece of information you’d like to share about you since you were on Kivunim?
I came to America for the first time for Kivunim @10 and ended up spending most of my time in Minneapolis, MN!

In what ways did Kivunim influence your path? Day-to-day life? Career? While at University, my experiences on Kivunim continued influencing who I was and what I was interested in. Every year I was able to engage with the new groups of Kivunim in India that continued to push me in my understanding of the world. That's why I found it meaningful to come back and contribute in creating this powerful experience to new group of Kivunim students.


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DANIEL MAGERMAN
2011-2012

College: The Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University
Current City: Philadelphia, PA

Where are you currently working or what are you currently doing? What is the mission/purpose of the organization? I work in education as a teacher and tutor for English language learners, as well as a school administrator for the Philadelphia School of Languages. The institution’s main goal is to the serve the diverse immigrant community in Northeast Philly by providing practical language classes and a hub for immigrant resources.

Also in line with my work, in August I will be starting a master’s degree in Intercultural Communication at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

What is a fact/interesting piece of information you’d like to share about you since you were on Kivunim? Since Kivunim, the longest sustained stretch I’ve spent abroad was 19 months living in Brazil from 2017 to 2018. By way of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant program, I worked in Curitiba, the country’s coldest state capital, supporting various English language projects at the Federal University of Paraná. My home life wasn’t exactly reminiscent of Beit Shmuel and the country is drastically different than Israel; nonetheless, I know our gap-year helped set the stage for this experience.

In what ways did Kivunim influence your path? Day-to-day life? Career?
Kivunim was and continues to be the most influential element of my education. I’m often tempted to throw around superlatives, but I think in this case it’s truly warranted. Kivunim 2011-2012 is the main reason I decided to study linguistics. Those eight months exposed me to languages, people, and ways of thinking that have guided my path through college, undergraduate research, my first post-school job in Brazil, and my current role as teacher and student (again). So strong is the Kivunim gravitational pull that within the last few years I returned to the source, helping to create and design one of the first Kivunim spin-off programs: KIVUNIM Americas. To facilitate a Kivunim-esque tour for high school students - to show others the Kivu-light even earlier than we saw it - is an exhilarating prospect.


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ISABEL NELSON
2011-2012

College: Barnard College
Current City: Brooklyn, NY

Where are you currently working or what are you currently doing? What is the mission/purpose of the organization? I am working at Community Healthcare Network as part of the Avodah Jewish Service Corps. CHN is a community based health center that serves primarily low-income communities with the goal of providing affordable, accessible, and comprehensive healthcare. As part of the Avodah cohort I’m spending this year exploring social justice in a Jewish framework and learning about how to dismantle systems of poverty and oppression in the US.

What is a fact/interesting piece of information you’d like to share about you since you were on Kivunim? Outside of my day to day job I also do set design for theater!

In what ways did Kivunim influence your path? Day-to-day life? Career? Kivunim has inspired me to stay connected to the Jewish community throughout college and after, and in particular has pushed me to appreciate the diversity of Jewish traditions and identities and to continue learning. In terms of my career, Kivunim helped me see the importance each community we visited placed on preserving and connecting with their culture and history, and this really stuck with me. I’ll be attending grad school for a master of public health in the fall, and am excited about working with minority and immigrant communities to provide health interventions that respect and work with their cultural practices and background.