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ISRAELI DELEGATION WAS IN WINNIPEG AS PART OF P2G EXCHANGE PROGRAM

by Rhonda Spivak November 7, 2017

A delegation of ten Israeli high school students with two of their Israeli teachers arrived in Winnipeg recently as part of the P2G (Partnership 2Gether) Program, an exchange program that builds unbreakable bonds between students at Gray Academy of Jewish Education and the Israeli students from Darca Dancinger High School in Kiryat Shmona. Each year, some 10-12 Gray Academy Students go to Israel on the program, and are billeted in homes, just as the Israeli students are billeted while here in Winnipeg. Additionally this year a principal from the elementary school Nachshnay Hachula arrived as part of the Israeli delegation


"The best part of the program is the all the friends I have made," said grade twelve student Raz Malka from Kiryat Shmona, who noted that , the program is a life changing experience, one which makes Diaspora Jews appreciate Israelis and vice versa. Malka was billeted by Adam Baron and said that "I know we will keep in contact with each other." He emphasized, "The people I have met here are amazing."


Coming to Winnipeg for this program was Malka's first time leaving Israel, and he said that he found "going to hakafot" at Adas Yeshuran- Herzlia Synagogue, Etz Chayim Synagogue and Chabad-Lubavitch a "great experience." He also enjoyed when the Israeli contingent and their Gray Academy counterparts lead a Shabbat service at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue. "It has been interesting for me to see how Judaism is practiced outside of Israel," Malka said, noting he was impressed with what he saw. Next year Malka said he plans to go into the Israel Defence forces and hopes to be in the armoured troops.


Lori Binder, Head of School and CEO of Gray Academy says that the program has a profound impact on students and "creates a real connection between students that can't take place in a classroom. She said that "We are grateful to the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg for continuing to support our ability to be connected to the program." As she indicated, Gray Academy students pay $2500.00 Canadian to go on the two week P2G program for two weeks in Israel. "The students pay for airfare and extra costs. Their ground costs in Northern Israel are covered."

 

Noy Nuri a grade eleven student who had never before been to Canada said her favourite part of the P2G program was the workshops she conducted about Israel and life in Israel to classes of students at Gray Academy ( As part of the P2G program, the Israeli students give workshops to Gray Academy students from junior kindergarten to grade 12). " I really connected to all of the kids and it is amazing to see how much they know about us and how much they want to connect with us," Noy told the Winnipeg Jewish Review.


"Everything has a very cozy feeling here," she added, saying "I love Winnipeg" and "I really like the people I have met here."


She was being hosted by Gilon Lazar and his family and said from "the first second" she liked her host family. "We became like one big family," she said of how well she felt the Israeli contingent was getting along with her Winnipeg counterparts.


Daniel Hershkovitz, a grade eleven student said her favourite part of the program was being billeted by her her g hosts Talia and Ethan Hrabinsky and Dana Segal. "I love my hosts. They are very nice. I want to keep in contact with them," she her host families. She also was pleased with 'all of the nice people I am meeting in Winnipeg." She had not known any of the Winnipeggers before arriving here and said that she has had such an "amazing" experience here that she would like to host a Winnipeg student in the spring of 2018 when the Winnipeg P2G delegation next comes to visit Israel.


Daniel emphasized that while Winnipeg "was cold" the people were warm hearted . She added, "It was cool meeting the children at Gray Academy and seeing how many kids come from Israel originally."


One of the things that Daniel most liked about Gray Academy was the "school uniforms," since at her school in Israel they had only shirts with a school logo but not full uniforms. "The Gray Academy uniforms look more formal," she said.

 

Yotam Degani, a teacher from Darca Danciger High Schol in Kiryat Shmona who was hosted by Lindsey Leipsic said that of course the most powerful aspect of the exchange program is the "human bond' that is forged between the Israelis and Winnipeggers. He also noted that that one of the first things he noticed was that is that in Israel the class size is bigger with an average of 30 or more children to a class, and he also added that Gray Academy had "better equipment."


He said he was pleased to learn that the teachers at both schools "talk about the same kinds of issues" sand he felt that his students got a real first hand understanding of what it is like to live as a Jew in the Diaspora and "how hard it is to keep Shabbas " in Winnipeg, and the ongoing challenge it is to "keep your religion and culture."


He raved about the delegation's visit to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. "I think it is a spectacular place. I was very impressed. I wish I could take every Israeli student there." in particular he said "The visit to the Holocaust Gallery was very emotional for us. He spoke of seeing the documentary shown in the Holocaust Gallery where Canada own's up to failing to take in Jewish refugees after the war. "It was good to see Canada taking responsibility for its failure in this regard," he said, noting that he and his students had a very fruitful discussion about this.Posen a tracof Grya academy “P2G continues to be one of the most powerful programs for our school and community as a whole. The connections that have been developed between the hundreds of Winnipeg and Kiryat Shemona students and their families over the years are real. Through the building of personal relationships and connections, this program has succeeded again and again in building and strengthening the Jewish people both in Israel and the diaspora.”

 
Avi Posen a teacher at Gray Academy involved in the program says "P2G continues to be one of the most powerful programs for our school and community as a whole. The connections that have been developed between the hundreds of Winnipeg and Kiryat Shemona students and their families over the years are real. Through the building of personal relationships and connections, this program has succeeded again and again in building and strengthening the Jewish people both in Israel and the diaspora.”
 

Arielle Branitsky, Leadership and Engagement Director of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg said "Through P2G (Partnership 2Gether) our community has had the great opportunity to build connections with Israeli communities in the Northern Galilee. Connecting with and visiting peers in Israel has a profound impact on the participants’ Jewish identities and relationship to Israel. As the program grows, it will continue to have a profound impact on youth, their families, and the Jewish community. The Federation is very proud to support P2G."

 

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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.