About us

TEVEL Has Two Synergetic, Equally Important Goals:

CREATING ISRAELI AND JEWISH LEADERSHIP PASSIONATELY INVOLVED IN “TIKKUN OLAM” (REPAIRING THE WORLD) LOCALLY AND GLOBALLY.

WORKING TOGETHER WITH RURAL COMMUNITIES TO ENHANCE THEIR LIVELIHOOD, CAPACITY AND WELLBEING

WE STRIVE TO DISCOVER

and disseminate the most effective and sustainable methods for ending poverty and environmental devastation, and for spreading knowledge and empowerment.

WE STRIVE TO RENEW

and strengthen the connection between the Jewish people and the marginalized and impoverished populations of the developing world.

WE STRIVE TO BUILD

a community of Jewish and Israeli activists who have the hands-on experience and skills to change the world.

WE STRIVE TO CREATE

a path for Jews to integrate universalism and Jewish identity and enliven the Jewish discourse on economic justice, poverty and the environment.
Dena Cowans Lessons from Nepal: Village Life

Vision

Tevel is committed to addressing extreme poverty at its source, especially in the crisis of the subsistence farming village where more than half of the population of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia still lives. Most of the destitute population of urban slums in global south cities are recent migrants from these villages, the majority of which cannot grow enough food presently to feed their population, much less to sell for health services and education. Working in Nepal, Haiti, and Burundi, Tevel has shown how a comprehensive approach to the issues poor villages face can transform them from places of crisis to places of opportunity.

Since its founding, Tevel has worked with over 50,000 people in rural communities in Nepal, Haiti, and Burundi, mobilizing youth, women, and small-holder farmers to strengthen communities, helping them move from subsistence farming that can no longer provide for even their most basic needs to new means of livelihood, especially small scale commercial farming.

Tevel has recently launched renewed efforts in Zambia with the launch of our work in Mphande,  a community of about 5,000 subsistence farmers. Our comprehensive and holistic approach includes agricultural training, including Israeli advances in technique and technology, water infrastructure, financial literacy and market analysis, access to inputs and village banking, and the strengthening and creation of community institutions, including farmers groups, women groups, cooperatives, collection centers, and a youth service program for village youth.

Impact

Over the past decade, Tevel has: 

  • Worked with over fifteen hundred young people through our pioneering service-learning and volunteering programs in Nepal, Zambia, Haiti and Burundi. 
  • Inspired and trained more than eight hundred new village agro-entrepreneurs, seventy percent of whom are women. 
  • Guided and supported thousands of farmers in producing small-scale horticulture projects. 
  • Brought hundreds of thousands of dollars in new income annually to thousands of poor and marginalized rural villagers –with income continuing to grow years later.
  • Created more than one hundred and twenty village savings groups. 
  • Empowered some three thousand women to begin participating in communal life. 
  • Started, for the first time, a commercial honey industry in Nepal, now numbering hundreds of hives, creating new incentives to preserve community forests. 
  • Reached more than ten thousand young people, involving them in youth movements, supporting them with scholarships, and training them for community leadership.   
  • Helped construct hundreds of toilets in villages that previously had no sanitation. 
  • Together with partners such as the Joint Distribution Committee and Magen David Adom in Nepal and Israaid in Haiti, helped tens of thousands of earthquake victims with temporary housing, home rebuilding, creating schools in post-earthquake refugee camps, and training more than one hundred village health workers in psycho-social support skills. 

History

Micha Odenheimer, our founder and director, began to travel as a journalist to Global South countries in crisis in 1990, writing for newspapers and magazines from Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, Nepal, Myanmar, Iraq, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and other hotspots. Micha noticed how the extreme poor –often the majority of the population –was suffering even as economic globalization continued to take root. Why was this so? How could people in the West, and especially Jews and Israelis, address the challenge of healing poverty? 

In 2005 Micha travelled to South Asia with his family and was struck by the large number of Israeli backpackers who were visiting the impoverished nation. Talented and motivated, many of them expressed a desire to deepen their understanding of how the world worked and do something to make it better. 

The Dream 

Micha began to dream of harnessing the energy and curiosity of those young Israeli backpackers to learn firsthand about the state of the world, and to help poor and marginalized communities. He founded Tevel b’Tzedek, recruiting young Israelis for an immersive service-learning program in Kathmandu –beginning in the spring of 2007. The group lived together in a large house and volunteered with local NGOs. Micha stayed with the group, mentoring their work and inspiring them with study sessions on the philosophy, Jewish and universal, that had motivated him.

Finding Focus

Tevel quickly realized that the great majority of poverty in Kathmandu had its origin in the crisis of the subsistence farming village. Tevel began to focus on helping these villages. Realizing that this would take the sustained effort of professionals, such as agronomists and women empowerment experts, Tevel began to build a local professional staff and also to create volunteering programs up to a year in length that matched Jewish and Israeli volunteers with local Nepali graduates of programs in sustainable development, agriculture, and social work. 

The Movement

Over the past 15 years, over 1500 young Israelis and Jews have come to Nepal, Haiti, Burundi and Zambia to give and to learn, and have returned to their home communities with a different view of the world and their place in it. Tevel is now partnering with local organizations in rural communities in Zambia, using its comprehensive approach to transforming poverty. Post Covid, in addition to local and international staff, Tevel is hosting Masters degree students in agriculture, nutrition, and African Studies. Our plan is to open volunteering opportunities for other young adults in the summer of 2023.

Staff

Staff

Twaambo Kapalangwe

Zambian Coordinator
Staff

Michal Eliezer

Community Development Program Director
Staff

Elana Silver

Director of Development
Staff

Rabbi Micha Odenheimer

Founding Director
Board

Zaki Djemal

Chairman
Board

Tamara Edell Gottstein

Board

Betsy Melamed

Board

Naomi Schacter

Board

Saul Singer

Board

Mark Weissman

Board

Staff

Twaambo Kapalangwe

Zambian Coordinator
Staff

Michal Eliezer

Community Development Program Director
Staff

Elana Silver

Director of Development
Staff

Rabbi Micha Odenheimer

Founding Director
Board

Zaki Djemal

Chairman
Board

Tamara Edell Gottstein

Board

Betsy Melamed

Board

Naomi Schacter

Board

Saul Singer

Board

Mark Weissman

Methodology

Tevel is inspired by Judaism’s commitment to Judaism’s vision of a more just and beautiful world  in its efforts to fight poverty in the Global South. Through a comprehensive strategy including agricultural, nutrition, and financial training, methods and techniques that create and strengthen community institutions, women’s and youth empowerment alongside improved access to vital inputs, including water, Tevel helps transform rural villages. While local staff and partner organizations are the key implementers of our work, our volunteers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, which they use to help us achieve our goals while strengthening the connection between the Jewish people and the impoverished populations of the Global South. 

 

Read more about Tevel’s methodology

We are currently fundraising $50,000 for a Matching Challenge, to support a new project Tevel’s Sustainable ״Agriculture Innovation center in Zambia״.

If you’d like to join the matching challenge, please let us know in your note.

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