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Avi Liberman’s Blueprint for Adventure

Liberman’s book is a funny, inspiring blueprint for how to travel to places you’ve always wanted to visit and make friends with people you never dreamed of meeting.
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August 18, 2022

Comedian Avi Liberman is no stranger to being on the road. His followers on social media are keenly aware when he’s about to board a plane to do a comedy show in their town—and it’s often.

But like so many other entertainers, Avi’s travel schedule faced numerous hurdles during the first year of the pandemic. L.A.’s live comedy scene went dark. And overseas, PCR tests and quarantine requirements deterred most travelers. Undaunted, Liberman, armed with American and Israeli passports, took to the road for seven months. 

“Don’t let bureaucrats decide your life for you,” Liberman writes in his book, “Traveling During the Pandemic: How Two Weeks Turned Into 7 Months, 8 Countries, and The Adventure of a Lifetime.”

“If there is a possibility to do something adventurous and exciting, if at all possible, take the chance,” he writes. 

The original plan, as the title reveals, was for Liberman to travel to Israel for two weeks to perform for his “Comedy for Koby” charity in honor of terror victim Koby Mandell. The shows support the Koby Mandell Foundation, which for close to 20 years has helped bereaved mothers, fathers, widows, orphans and siblings who have lost loved ones due to terrorism or other tragedies. Twice a year, Liberman gathers a group of comedians who travel from LA to Israel for benefit shows. 

Avi Liberman

In August of 2020, however, as the pandemic was gaining steam, Liberman extended his trip by a few days to visit Greece. Then he extended his trip some more, and then some more. The resulting adventures are chronicled in his book. 

“You know, it felt like almost these [tourist destinations] were like an exclusive little tour for just you and just a few people around you and that’s it,” Liberman told The Journal. With Israel as his basecamp, he would also travel to Bulgaria, Serbia, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Turkey and Russia. 

In addition to performing his comedy during many of his travels, Liberman writes about how it felt to be the only person at many historical sites in countries he visited. While customer service with the airlines was at an all-time low, Liberman felt the townspeople of the places he visited were grateful for his curiosity and presence, not to mention his tourist dollars.

Fancy hotels were cheap, and, of course, there were Chabads in nearly every city with open arms to host Liberman for Shabbat. This came in handy, as Lieberman is an Orthodox Jew who’s an active member of the Pico-Robertson community. 

When he would post on Facebook about his next destination, his fans would connect him within minutes to someone who could show Liberman around their home town. 

“‘God bless you Israelis for coming! You are saving our economy!’” a man said to Liberman in Plodiv— Bulgaria’s second-largest city. 

In Dubai, he was the first Israeli citizen to perform at a comedy club called the Laughter Factory. It was during Chanukah, so he opened his set by saying, “Happy Chanukah!” The crowd went silent. 

“That’s the response I expected!” Liberman said as his follow up line, which generated many laughs in the club. During his time in Dubai, Liberman lit Chanukah candles and put them in the window of his hotel room. To openly perform a Jewish ritual in one of the Gulf States was a powerful experience for Liberman that made him feel even more welcome in his travels. 

The book is full of such observations, food experiences and wide-eyed amazement. And the humor never escapes the pages. 

When visiting the famous Haiga Sofia Mosque in Istanbul, he compares it to the Astrodome in his hometown of Houston, former home of his beloved Houston Astros baseball team. There are even pictures in the book of Liberman flipping the bird to statues of Bohdan Khmelnytsky in Ukraine, and Karl Marx in Russia. The statue he was most surprised to see was that of Sholem Aleichem, the author whose stories about Tevya the Milkman inspired the play and film “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“They could care less that he was Jewish, but they take big pride that he was Russian,” Liberman wrote. 

Liberman’s book is a funny, inspiring blueprint for how to travel to places you’ve always wanted to visit and make friends with people you never dreamed of meeting. Surviving a horrible car accident in Miami in May 2021 has undoubtedly helped Liberman treasure every moment of life.

“Find a way to turn a negative into a positive,” Liberman writes at the end of his book. “You never know. You just might end up wandering in Greek hills, having a beer with a new friend in Serbia, encountering a Roman Amphitheater in Bulgaria, watching people ski indoors in Dubai…” 

“Find a way to turn a negative into a positive,” Liberman writes at the end of his book. “You never know. You just might end up wandering in Greek hills, having a beer with a new friend in Serbia, encountering a Roman Amphitheater in Bulgaria, watching people ski indoors in Dubai, enjoying some tea in a café in Istanbul, feeding a rabbit in Ukraine, riding subways in Russia… and having the time of your life.”

Liberman’s book can be purchased on Amazon. He will be returning to Israel to perform in Comedy for Koby shows in Herzliya, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on October 11, 12 and 13. For more information, go to comedyforkoby.com

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