The strongest guarantor for the future for the Jewish people is to provide young people with a Jewish Education of boundless hope and intellectual integrity.  An education that demonstrates every day the positive, historic role of the Jewish people throughout history and across the globe.  An education of great ideas, places and people, filled with imagination, crossing boundaries and building bridges between “the other” and ourselves.  This education must be fully integrated with the experiential and it must provide strong spiritual inspiration fueled by vision.  


KIVUNIM is not a "gap-year", IT IS an "ON" YEAR between High School and College providing a life -changing academic/intellectual/experiential program with imitators but no equals . The KIVUNIM opportunity presenting a range of histories, museums, archaeological sites, religions, arts, music, professors, filmmakers, authors, journalists, politicians, religious leaders and sites of natural beauty (all encountered in our studies about and travels to 11 or more different countries and over 75 cities each year) is recognized for its uniqueness in the field of international education. We’re based in Jerusalem, studying about and then traveling to dozens of Diaspora communities, from Morocco to India, generating an informed international Jewish identity aware of the majestic history of the Jewish people in dynamic relationship to the cultures within which we lived. Here is some alumni-thinking about the KIVUNIM experience:

“I've been thinking of you recently, and wanting to send a note of gratitude for your major part in my post-high school education. In the last number of months…I’ve been drawing heavily on the education I got with Kivunim. I've been finding my sensitivity to and appreciation for religious experience and feelings directly useful as I begin (my) work. These are skills harnessed from Kivunim. It's only becoming more and more clear over time how interdisciplinary and pervasive the Kivunim education truly is, and how useful.  So thank you for helping me gather some essential tools to navigate our complex world with empathy and a listening ear.”                                                                                                                                                                                                               (Student enrolled 2012-13)

"I had the most beautiful, inspiring year of my life on Kivunim. It made me feel powerful and at home in the world, and I know that I will take my experiences with me throughout life. When I got home, my friends noticed I had become more mature and thoughtful, and I feel that way too. It was truly a blessing to be part of this journey, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity. "           (Student enrolled 2015-16)

“Because of Kivunim I majored in International Studies in college. Although I am not necessarily pursuing a career in international relations, I have brought my understanding of people of varying cultures, religions, and backgrounds with me to the workplace. I have continued to take Middle East history classes and have been able to confidently stand up for both Israelis and Palestinians and in general, people of varying beliefs in many circumstances.”                                                                                    (Student enrolled in 2009-10)



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KIVUNIM is also engaged with the global future.  We co-sponsored the first Holocaust Conference in the Arab world in 2011, designed and operated the first Israel Seminar for Arab Muslim youth in 2012 and in December, 2015 we created a Muslim-Jewish experience that people will be talking about for years to come (see our Press and Video page for details). We study with the leadership of religious communities in the Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist communities around the world. As we say in our logo, we are “building the future."

Revolving Scholarship Fund

We have developed a unique educational approach to the distribution of scholarships, requiring each scholarship student recipient (not parent) to sign the following “Student Ethical Commitment” upon receipt: "I agree that I will make every effort to repay KIVUNIM for the amount of my scholarship when I get older, thereby enabling another student to someday have the opportunity that is being provided to me today. I understand that this is not a formal promissory note, but rather an ethical pledge to do so as I grow older and become a donor to various causes and projects in the years ahead.

"I agree that KIVUNIM may remind me of this pledge in the future. If, at the time I am able to fulfill this pledge, KIVUNIM is no longer in existence I will seek out another program of comparable Jewish educational philosophy and provide the funds to them. (Repayment may be made in a lump sum or in smaller amounts over a period of years and these payments will be accepted as fully tax deductible contributions.)"



We devote up to 20% of our potential gross tuition to financial aid that allows us to distribute an annual average of $500,000 in a combination of needs-based scholarships and small interest-free loans.

Approximately 50% of our students receive financial aid ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 with the average award being $15,000.  All awards are based upon the family's financial situation.  Some need and receive much more, other less.

The process of applying for financial aid is simple and quick. Families submit a copy of the “Fafsa” form they have prepared for college scholarships and an indication of what amount they feel their family is capable of paying (always higher than what the Fafsa process expects of them). The scholarship funds are distributed on a first come first served basis, so applying early is always to your advantage.

In order to provide this assistance, we must make up the gap in tuition through gifts from committed donors. We are too young to have developed an endowment.  That's why we need your help!

Who leads kivunim?

BOARD OF TRUSTEES : Stefan Malter, President • Dr. Danny Aviv • Marnie Berk, Esq. • David Charney • Eliana Lauter ('08) • Andrew Lewin • Rabbi Jonathan Lipnick • Benjamin Perlstein ('08) • Rabbi Edward Schecter • Dr. Rebecca Shahmoon Shanok • Harris Tilevitz • Bill Yotive

HONORARY ADVISORY BOARD: Dr. David Ariel • Dr. Lewis Bernstein • David Broza • Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove • Rabbi Yitz Greenberg • Professor Susannah Heschel • Rabbi Rolando Matalon • Dr. Robert Sherman • Dr. Anita Weiner

Peter A. Geffen, Founder and Executive Director

Jay Leberman, Director, Gap-Year Program • Gabriel Mitchel, Associate Director • Lea Landowne, Associate Director, Administration & Logistics • David Mendelsohn, Ph.D, Senior Faculty and Academic Advisor • Amal Abusif, Arabic and Hebrew Language Coordinator • Jeremy Goldfrad, Ella Shadmi, Residence Advisors • Rabbi Dov Lerea, Ed.D, Consultant, Special Projects • Yaakov Wolff, CFO

INSPIRATION: Frederic Brenner • Rabbi Samuel Geffen, ז’ל • Emanuel Gruss, ז’ל • Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, ז’ל • Mollie Kessler, ז’ל • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  ז’ל • King Mohammed V of Morocco,  ז’ל • Alan B. Slifka, ז’ל • Dr. Eugene Weiner, ז’ל