Gap Year Program

Do you want to
  • Learn hands-on skills that last a lifetime?
  • Make a concrete contribution to a more just society?
  • Create your own communal household with other young adults?
  • Explore what Jewish and other global perspectives offer in confronting our most pressing social issues?
  • Develop your leadership and advocacy skills?
  • Have adventures in Portland and travel in the beautiful Pacific Northwest?

Jewish gap year program working at Habitat For HumanityTivnu is a nine month Jewish gap year program in Portland, Oregon. Participants live together, create community, discover the Pacific Northwest, and explore connections between Jewish life and social justice with their heads, hands, and hearts.

At Tivnu: Building Justice, we are driven by our of commitment to the Jewish concept of tzedakah. Often mistranslated as charity, the term derives from the Hebrew word for justice and fairness. Our goal is not to “give” our time and energy to those who are “less fortunate,” but to work together with others for a better world for us all. We act from the conviction that housing, food security, environmental justice, education, and the overall health of neighborhoods and communities are human rights.

To learn more about Tivnu’s philosophy, read Our Story.


Jewish social justice gap year program sisters of the road cafe internships portland oregonWhat are your passions? Our experienced staff will work with you to customize a program of internships that reflects your varied interests. Work directly with local social justice organizations to plant a community garden at a neighborhood school with Outgrowing Hunger, edit a grassroots newspaper with Street Roots, build affordable housing with Habitat for Humanity, tutor at-risk youth at Portland Youth Builders, prepare and serve nutritious meals alongside people experiencing homelessness at Sisters of the Road’s café, and more. And come together at the end of the week to share stories around the Tivnu Shabbat dinner table. Your experiences on Tivnu will change the way you see the world, and the way you see yourself. Tivnu: tools to build a better world.

Grow: Challenge yourself while completing tangible projects that make a difference in people’s lives, and your own. Build skills and develop commitments that last a lifetime.

Learn: Study the issues of poverty, equity, and communal responsibility from Jewish and global perspectives.

Lead: Plan Tivnu educational and recreational activities. Create a compassionate community at work and at home.

Explore: Live with other young adults in beautiful and vibrant Portland, sharing communal meals and approaches to Judaism, exploring nature, and building lifelong friendships.


Shua at Opal Creek“Tivnu has given me the chance to explore my interests and passions in a supportive environment. I have learned so much about myself and how I interact with others. Tivnu has given me direction, confidence, and a huge network of interesting and hardworking people who I know I can count on in the future. Thank you Tivnu!!!” -Hadara G.

It’s hard to add up how much I’ve learned on this program, but I can describe the feeling of satisfaction I’ve had each time I’ve talked to a new Portlander, played with a homeless child, or made something that I could’ve bought in a store. Tivnu is helping me to become an adult, a citizen, and a leader.”  -Nomi S.

Tivnu offered something different: a chance for me to play a role in creating tangible justice.” -Reuben D.


“I imagined that Tivnu would provide our son with an amazing opportunity to put his Jewish values into action. But, I could not have imagined the richness and depth of the program: from guest lectures and well-thought out lessons/discussions, to group-living tasks, customized volunteer opportunities and a real sense of community and responsibility to social justice—Tivnu is the ‘complete package’. I cannot recommend it highly enough.” -Heidi Kon, Director of Religious Education, Chicago Sinai Congregation

“I simply could not design a better gap year program. It offers community, informal learning, Jewish holidays and Shabbat celebrated with joy and creativity, a few adult eyes and/or shoulders for guidance or consultation, all while doing incredibly meaningful work. I’m incredibly proud of Nadav, and I’m delighted that he’s had the opportunity to be a part of Tivnu: Building Justice.” -Missie Polasky, Ed.M.

“We appreciate what an important opportunity this is for our son – we can already see how much he has grown in these opening months, and we know this will be a transformative year for him. There is no more fulfilling place on earth for him to be right now than Tivnu. Our deep thanks for making this possible.”   -Rabbi Gilah Langner

For more information on:

  • Dates, location, eligibility, tuition, financial aid, housing, staff, and college credit
  • Typical week in Gap Year Program
  • Application and enrollment timeline

read more about the program here.