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Elaine Goldstine (centre) with staff at Ramat korazim school

English play station at Ramat Korazim School

English play station at Ramat Korazim School


by Rhonda Spivak December 18, 2017



At the beginning of November, Jessica Cogan "had the incredible opportunity" to travel to Israel for the Coast to Coast Partnership 2gether meetings (P2G). ( P2G is a partnership between Israeli and Canadian communities working together to address social issues in struggling and under developed regions in Israel.  It also serves to strengthen the ties of the Diaspora with Israel through the Gesher Chai or “living bridge” exchange programs between Canadians and Israelis in an effort to build strong people to people connections)


Cogan went with CEO of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, Elaine Goldstine, to the northern region of the Galilee panhandle in Israel.


Cogan said that "Over the span of three days we visited a mental health clinic where we heard from a psychologist, a dairy farm, Tel Hai College, attended a presentation on STEM twinning programs by the head of school twinning development of the Jewish Agency for Israel and also visited a robotics program at Emek Hachula School.  The one thing that all of these places and programs have in common is that they have all somehow been touched by the P2G program in an effort to build up services and infrastructure in the region and provide education and opportunities to its citizens."

Cogan explained that there are some members of our community who provide funds for scholarships at the ever developing Tel Hai College. "I had the wonderful privilege, along with Elaine Goldstine, to present scholarships to four students on behalf of Winnipeg donors. We were able to sit down with these university students and learn about their struggles and successes. They each told us  how important and valuable the scholarships are in helping them pursue their studies and reach their goals. I am so thankful to the donors in our community who make this possible for these young men and women. I can only hope that those donors have had or will have in the very near future the opportunity to present their own scholarships to these very deserving students."



Cogan said that a favourite part of the trip was the morning that she and  Goldstine spent visiting the three schools that are paired with Winnipeg. "As we walked up to each elementary school there were young students waving Canadian and Israeli flags and singing Heivenu Shalom Aleichem. We were treated to small concerts and given a tour of each school.  At Nachshonei HaHulah school, I got to see an amazing garden and greenhouse where the kids plant their own fruits, vegetables and herbs.  A young boy proudly gave me a handful of radishes that he had just pulled from the ground and another cut some mint and lemongrass to put in my “Nana tea” after I said that I love it."


She added that "At Dancinger High School, we had a face to face meeting with the teacher/coordinator of their P2G trip to Winnipeg and two of the students who participated this past year.  They told us how important this exchange is. Their only wish was that more students would be allowed to participate.  In their school, approximately 200 students apply for the trip, but only a handful are selected, which leads to many disappointed students.  On some level, I suppose that this is a good problem to have."


Last spring, one of the first tasks Cogan had as the chair of the IOD [Israel and Overseas Department of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg ] was to present a project proposal to the Federation Board to fund an English Playground at our sister school Ramat Korazim. "This was something that Winnipeg was to take on outside of the larger P2G core budget.  Since our sister school had put forth a request, we felt that Winnipeg should try to take it on if we could.  Ultimately, the project was approved and Elaine and I were there to unveil it."


"When we walked into the school’s courtyard, all of the kids were playing with the different English stations in the playground that are meant to teach them English through play.  We were told that some of the pieces were designed by the teachers and were tailor made specifically for the playground.  This was an example of hands-on learning where the students could actually touch the English  language and manipulate it.  The playground is meant to support and enhance the traditional desk learning that occurs in the classroom. It brings to mind the saying that 'If a child can’t learn the way we teach, then we must teach the way that they learn'... The kids showed us how each of the stations work, sang a Beatles song for us and presented a small skit all in English....I was very proud to be the one to unveil the dedication plaque on behalf of my Winnipeg community.  I wish I could take all of our “builders” (donors) to see the smiles, laughter and learning that is going on through tools funded by them.  It was inspiring."


Cogan noted that it is important for community members to know that the P2G program has three aspects to it: The Gesher Chai twinning of schools in Winnipeg and Israel (Brock Corydon School is paired with Ramat Korazim  and Gray Academy is paired with Nachshonai Ha-Hulah Elementary School and Dancinger High Schools), as well as the Youth and Education Portfolio and  the Capacity Building Portfolio.


"It is our hope that one day we may be able to extend this living bridge relationship to adult relationships in both communities. We are always looking for great ideas in this area and encourage thoughts from across the community with respect to how we could do more in the area of adult living bridge connections."


Cogan noted that the "The Youth and Education portfolio of P2G addresses the needs of the younger population in the region and the programs that support learning for all individuals. The Capacity Building Portfolio of P2G addresses the needs of the entire region in terms of public services and infrastructure."


Each year, the P2G joint committee meets twice - once in Israel, and then again in one of the host Canadian cities. "As it happens the next meetings are to take place in May 2018 in Winnipeg.  Our community will be hosting 40 to 50 people from our Coast to Coast region and Israel to talk about upcoming needs and discuss the progress of projects currently underway.  The meetings themselves are a productive way to build those very important people to people connections between Canadians and Israelis at the levels of both staff and lay leaders," Cogan concluded.



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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.