Even a decade later, I still consider my gap-year on Kivunim one of the most formative experiences of my life. Kivunim offered me the opportunity to explore Judaism, Zionism, and globalization through deep, transformative, and personal engagement with these issues . But more than anything, Kivunim shaped my identity and enhanced my personal development; because of Kivunim, I consider myself a braver, more curious, and more confident citizen of the world.
— ZJ 2006-7

Our Mission

KIVUNIM inspires its students to forge a lifelong relationship with Israel and the Jewish People through our travels across the world - gaining understanding of Jewish life and history together with that of the many cultures, religions and worldviews amongst whom the Jewish people grew in its 2000 year Diaspora. Our international travels build and deepen Jewish identity within the context of an emerging sense of “world-consciousness” both as Jews and as citizens of the world. We welcome students from all backgrounds in the belief that mutual understanding can only enhance the possibilities for greater peace and justice.

We are based in Jerusalem where we encounter Israel openly: appreciating its grand and historic achievements together with its unfulfilled goals and aspirations. We encourage a perception on the part of our students that there is work yet to be done and that they have a role to play in the fulfillment of the Zionist promise.

We introduce our students to the world of Arab-Jewish co-existence, perhaps the greatest challenge to the State of Israel and the Jewish People in our time.  We expect our students to return to their college campuses and their future lives with the capacity for and commitment to building dialogue in place of confrontation and of becoming living representations of the words of the founder of the Zionist Movement, Theodor Herzl:


The Zionist Promise is the national ideology of the Jewish People. KIVUNIM is attempting to expand that ideology from its current inwardness to a greater outer-directedness actively seeking improvement of the world’s tolerance, mutual respect, commitment to human rights and human dignity, in a more just and more peaceful world.  Giving life to the words of the Hebrew Prophets in modern times.

To accomplish this goal we must re-establish the lost link to the history of the Jewish people throughout the world within our young people by sharing with them the noble and creative story of Jewish life around the globe. Jewish education for this new century must help to minimize fears and maximize comfort with people, cultures and religions that are different than our own, both as Americans and as Jews. Today’s institutions often educate to the opposite.

KIVUNIM teaches students to interpret the past and understand the present in order to build and insure the future. KIVUNIM believes that Jewish Education must take place within a context of lofty goals and aspirations filled with optimism, tempered by reality and encouraged by the understanding that words have power and that betterment of the world is the central goal of the Jewish people and its religious and national tradition.