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SHAKED KARABELNICOFF: MY P2G TRIP TO ISRAEL WAS THE EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME

BY: SHAKED KARABELNICOFF, Grade 10 student at Gray Academy of Jewish Education, April 20, 2015

 

 

[Editor's note: Below is a very well written piece by Shaken Karabelnicoff about the Partnership Together Program of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.  Avi Posen, a teacher at Gray Academy who was a supervisor of the trip adds "The students also had the opportunity to volunteer in the community.  Before leaving for Kiryat Shemona, the students fundraised within the school and raised about $1500 dollars.  With this money, they volunteered their time in the Seniors Home of Kiryat Shemona (Beit Hakashish) and donated a brand new state of the art mixer.  In addition to that, they visited an army base in Northern Israel and donated 10 PVR machines to the soldiers so that they can watch television in their downtime, a Purim gift that was much appreciated by the soldiers."
 

Below is a  link to a video in which the students donate the PVR's:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=839163076122991&set=vb.427560070616629&type=3&theater ]

 

 

On February 25th, I visited Israel for the first time on a program called Partnership Together (P2G), which is run by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg through the Gray Academy of Jewish Education. The program is a ten day exchange between Kiryat Shmona, a small city in the North of Israel near the border with Lebanon, and Winnipeg. The trip also includes four days of touring Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In October, a delegation of students from Dancinger High School come to Winnipeg, live with families and experience Jewish life in the Diaspora, and in March, Gray Academy sends a delegation of students to experience Israeli life.

 

After weeks of excitement and preparation, nine students, including myself, Brooke Lieberman, Jaqui Cohen, Liat Stitz, Bina Rubin, Josh Muyal, Fede Biderman, Cari Slayen and Michelle Marchtein and two teacher supervisors, Avi Posen and Silvina Mohadeb, took off on a ten hour journey to Israel. We landed in Tel Aviv and headed by bus to Kiryat Shmona. As we began to pull up to Dancinger High School, where all of our hosts and co-hosts were waiting for our arrival, the nine of us realized how real this journey was becoming. We had waited so long to meet our new friends in Israel but now that the moment was finally here we were extremely nervous. We wondered if we would feel comfortable in our Israeli homes, living with people we had never met. Now, looking back on that moment I can't help but smile. Little did we know that these people we were afraid of would become some of our closest friends.

 

From the moment I arrived in Kiryat Shmona I was in awe of their always lively and positive outlook on life. Purim in Kiryat Shmona embodied this attitude well. It was Purim like I had never experienced before. The entire city participated in the Purim parade, and everyone was so colorful and extravagant. The atmosphere was electric and it was contagious.

 

The north of Israel is stunningly filled with mountains and nature, and having come from cold prairie Manitoba, it was such a change. Every morning when I woke up I would look out of my window and see the Hermon Mountain as the sun was rising. It was one of the most beautiful sights in the world.

 

One of the most special moments for me was during Kabalat Shabbat. During the service, the father of the house went around and blessed all of his children, and he blessed me as well. In this moment I realized what was so special about P2G. You completely merge into an Israeli family as they take you as one of their own.

 

On our last day in Kiryat Shmona, as we were saying our goodbyes to our new families, we didn't want to leave. Finally, after our tearful "see you later's", we headed off to Nachsoney Hachula elementary school, Gray Academy's sister school, and to Ramat Korazim, Brock Corydon's sister school. Having gone to Brock Corydon, I had a special experience at Ramat Korazim. We presented for one of the classrooms and as I introduced myself, one of the teachers realized that she recognized me from a photo I had attached to a letter I had written to my pen pal at Ramat Korazim, years ago. It was so extraordinary to make that connection.

 

The last four days of the trip were exceptional. We traveled to Tel Aviv and walked along the beach to Jaffa, had dinner in front of Kikar Rabin and visited Aroma for the first time! In Jerusalem we visited Har Herzl, the old city and the Kotel, Ben Yehuda Street and the market. I was finally visiting all the places I had heard about my entire childhood.

 

There could not have been a better way to experience my first time in Israel. I ate Israeli food, listened to Israeli music, and went to an Israeli school, essentially for ten days, I lived like an Israeli. I made lifelong friends and I know I always have a home in Kiryat Shmona.

 
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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.