The New Birthright Office Reno

We sat down with Rabbi Levi Margolin, Executive Director of Mayanot's Birthright Israel department to hear what he had to say about the upcoming Birthright Israel season, the growth and expansion of Mayanot Israel and the newly renovated office space for his marvelous team.

 Checkout the video tour!

Interviewer: Thank you so much for sitting down with us and sharing all the good news at Mayanot, we are excited to hear about the goal and vision behind Mayanot's Birthright Israel office renovation?

Levi: Thank you for taking an interest, it's a pleasure to talk with you, especially about such exciting things!

One of my key operating principles is that people need to feel that work provides an exciting and comfortable atmosphere. I also believe it needs to be colorful, bright and vibrant!  You want happy people doing a happy job!

People will have more space for flexibility and relaxation. Our brand new conference space will allow us to come together to be more effective and communicative as a team.

I figured, let's add light, color and more space to breathe, because I personally believe that breeds creativity and success.


Interviewer: Can you share a bit about what it was like during Covid and what starting up again looked like?

Levi: When we embarked on our post Covid relaunch, it was fast and furious! Our motto during Covid was "Gam Ze Yaavor, this too shall pass! And when it does, we'll be here to have you as our guests in Israel!" And last summer, we did that in amazing fashion with over 3,000 participants!

Our goal going forward, while obviously to expand the numbers within the limits we have, is to offer a high quality product, not just quantity, but quality. The Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke often about the importance of both quality and quantity. His words are a blueprint for our vision.

Today, we're able to actually focus on quality itineraries, quality staff, quality training, quality preparation. And this ties into the new space as well. If you walk in and you feel like you're in a quality workplace, you're able to put out a quality product.

That's really what I want for the team. For them to actually feel the difference they are making, and that begins at home - or, in this case, in the office.


Interviewer: Amazing. So the program is growing as the office is expanding and leveling up physically and spiritually. That's very exciting to hear. Does your team have anything to say about the new renovation? Have you heard any positive feedback?

Levi: Just to see the team’s reaction when they first walk in here, makes the whole project worth it. Both for those who worked in the old office and for the new people who don't know what the old office was like.

When you walk in you feel like you are in the right place! It's bright. It's colorful. It's vibrant. It feels special. There's a beautiful conference room with a glass wall which will have colorful pictures of our trips on the back wall…and it just opens up the space and it feels important in a way.

People walk in and they're very Wow’d! When they come in here it's very much filled with light. We designed it in a way that a lot of natural light comes in and it just feels like a bright day and people appreciate that.


Interviewer: It's good when people feel comfortable and happy at work especially since they are doing such important work here. It’s very nice that the space reflects the image of the organization, bringing in lots of light. These are all really important things! Levi, can you give us some insight into how you see this summer shaping up?

Levi: We are looking at just over 2,050 participants on 52 different groups, including our Friendship Circle, special needs group, and our first ever Russian-American Jewish Community Trip, which will be taking place on June 21st. We are very excited about that.

We have another 50 trips of almost exclusively college campuses. The University of Wisconsin has about 315 students traveling with us. That's more than 15% of our entire summer participant total!

Several dozen other schools are bringing anywhere from 5-10 students to 2-4 full groups! We are so grateful to all our partners, especially our steadfast partners over the last two decades. I'm proud to thank our campus partners who really keeps us going. We feel that in a big way and we want you all to know it, especially this summer!


Interviewer: Are you guys prepared? That sounds like a huge number of students coming to Israel with us?

Levi: I would say we feel the most prepared than I remember ever feeling and that’s thanks to our amazing teams. Hotels are booked, tour guides are booked, airlines booked, names are on tickets, and staff are confirmed.

Our first group will arrive May 8th. That’s a little less than two months away. It gives us time to tweak and fine tune the trips and make sure that they're the best possible product that we can put out for our participants and partners 

My staff know my favorite line! "We don't need to be perfect, but we do need to be the best!" So we have almost two months from now to ensure that the product we're putting out there is indeed the best.

I must mention our land providers, Arnon Katz, Shmulik Israel and their teams at Masa Yehudi - The Jewish Journey. With much thanks to them, we feel very much ready to go!


Interviewer: Can you share with us why you think this summer will be even better or possibly the best yet?

Levi: This summer has the potential to be our best season because of several factors. Firstly, the team that we have in place, people that know what they're doing. People with experience either within Mayanot or other organizations. Also, our partners at Masa Yehudi are fine-tuned and ready to go.

Secondly, some of the tools that we're setting up to prepare the groups; For example: pre-trip orientations for our participants, so they come to Israel prepared with their questions already answered. Those are going to be held on Zoom so the groups can meet each other beforehand. They can ask their questions ahead of time.

We are also reinventing our staff training. We're making it more interactive so we know if people have questions, they can have the opportunity to be involved with other staff members, to learn from them and to learn their techniques.


Interviewer: Wow that all sounds amazing, what a groundbreaking summer it’s shaping up to be. Just to wrap up, is there anything else you want to share about the renovation project or the people involved?

Levi: I do want to thank Shana Cohen from Sunshine Interiors, who came in here and in two hours, set up the vision of what you see, the natural lighting coming in, the open space, the vibrant colors. She was able to envision what we needed and really pull it together in a way that just worked out so well.

Raphy Bitton deserves a very special thank you! He really spearheaded the project, pushing things forward and making sure that everything was getting done.

Also, Shlomo Chaimson for his expert help with the construction side of things and being the brain behind the project.

Of course, special thanks to Rabbi Gestetner and Rabbi Shemtov for putting the investment into this place, for knowing and trusting and believing that, when we have a more vibrant and exciting workplace, the product will be more vibrant and exciting as well.

And last but not least, I have a little cart in my office, for lack of a better term, let's just call it the whiskey cart. And when you come visit us in Israel you are welcome to come make a l’chaim and join us in celebrating the success of Mayanot's Birthright Israel program! Lchaim!

Interviewer: It would be very special for people to have a l’chaim with you Levi, to celebrate bringing Jews to Jerusalem from all over the world.

I think you guys did a great job here. People are really going to be effective and bring a lot of goodness to the world from here. Thank you so much for sitting down with us and sharing the amazing future we hope to see from Birthright Israel: Mayanot!