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Canadian participants at “Canada House”, a building located at Tel-Hai College, an institution funded by UIA Federations Canada
photo by Judi Price Rosen

Shimon Segal, Judi Price-Rosen, Eva and Matt Trachtenberg at the entrance to Tel-Hai College

Participants on the mission build an outdoor seating area for children at the Schafim School
photo by Judi Price Rosen

Canadian and Israeli participants outside the Centre for Young Adults, a UIA Partnership 2000 project
photo by Judi Price Rosen



by Rhonda J. Prepes, P. Eng. July 14, 2011

“There are few words to properly express the impact Israel has on my life. Every moment I spent in Israel pushed my roots deeper and deeper with my culture, my people and my homeland. I just tear up and breathe deeply, that’s how I relive my experience with Israel,” says Shimon Segal, 25, car salesman/ law student and participant at a recent Partnership 2000 mission to northern Israel.

From April 28 – May 8, 2011, three young Winnipeggers went on a Partnership 2000 National Coast to Coast Social Action mission to the northern region of Israel.  The mission drew sixteen participants who were graduate students and young professionals 25-35 years of age from Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa. Unlike most organized trips to Israel, this was not a tour of the country.  It was an experience designed to give Canadians a better appreciation for the challenges of living in the northern region of the country and to take on a volunteer project to enhance the area. The trip was the first national mission of its kind, bringing together young adults from small and medium sized Canadian Jewish communities with Israelis their age attending Tel-Hai College and living in the Galilee Panhandle. The particpants were accompanied by two staff persons, one of which was Judy Price-Rosen Winnipeg Jewish Federation's Associate Director of Donor Development, and former director of Next Generations Initiative.

The first eight days of the mission were spent in and around Kiryat Shmonah.  “I realized that this Northern region really didn’t have much to offer young people going to college in terms of night life or even in the way of transportation. It was however, extremely beautiful and calming in the North compared to Jerusalem. I didn’t realize how economically challenged it was in the North in terms of resources, jobs, transportation, entertainment, etc.,” says Winnipegger Eva Trachtenberg, 32, a participant on the  mission.

Highlights of the trip included three days spent at the Schafim school for children (Jewish and non-Jewish) with developmental disabilities, where Canadian and Israeli participants worked together to refurbish the facility and build an outside common area with benches and tables. 

Eva’s husband, Matthew Trachtenberg, 32, an account manager with Enterprise Holdings, was also on the mission. He says, “It was very rewarding knowing that we were helping clean up the school and better their facilities. I helped paint multiple rooms with a couple Israeli students.  It was a great experience working together as a team, and getting to know them on a personal level.” 

Eva added, “I thought the Schafim School was really loving and nurturing because ... this school puts religion/culture aside and takes in any needy children of any background, any culture, and any religion to be a part of their school and their families all interact."

Matt and Eva ecently married on October 17, 2010 and Eva converted to Judaism. She had never been to Israel before, but Matt had been on Birthright Israel. Matt and Eva say that once they were  chosen to go on the Partnership 2000 mission,  they  received a subsidy form the Jewish Federation for the mission, such that they each paid $1500 to to go  on it.

The group visited the Canada Centre in Metulla. “The Canada Centre has the only skating rink in the country and the surrounding area. It was really satisfying knowing that the majority of the funds used to build and run this establishment are from Canadian dollars and from people within our community. It was quite cool to see what they had to offer aside from just having a community pool. They had a gun fire range, skating rink, bowling alley, gym, pool and a curling rink. Outside they had a basketball court, as well,” says Eva

Shimon Segal had been to Israel before in 2007 on Canada Israel Experience Birthright. Prior to his current work, he was a Youth Engagement Specialist for 4 and a half years with the government of Manitoba advising on youth advocacy policy. He adds, “I was able to network with a youth organization in the northern region that does much of the same youth engagement work that I have been doing here in Manitoba for years. I learned about the universal struggles of keeping youth in areas of cities and provinces where the infrastructure is limited. There is a push to go out and seek opportunity. I find it most important to stay with long term projects that have been successful. That’s why I am still involved with the Winnipeg Jewish community and the Jewish Federation and I take almost every opportunity to be involved that I can.”

The last weekend of th emission , the entire group of Canadians and Israelis travelled to Jerusalem for Shabbat. In Jerusalem, the group toured the Old City, visited the Kotel, and had the privilege of meeting the father and brother of Gilad Shalit, who, happened to be present at the tent of hope designed to advocate for his safe release.

Eva sums up the mission this way, “I’m just really grateful that I was given the opportunity to go to Israel especially with my husband. It was not only a rewarding experience, but it was a new experience. I now feel a connection with the country. It was extremely emotional. Learning about the culture, other religions, the mentality, what it’s like in Jerusalem 2 hours before Shabbat on a Friday – it was an experience I will never forget.”

Here is the full itinerary of the trip for any interested readers:

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Arrival at Ben Gurion Airport
Lunch En-Route
Visit the Museum at the Golani Junction
Drive North
Dinner at the Hotel
Free Evening
Overnight: Tel-Hai Youth Hostel

Friday, April 29
Breakfast at kibbutz
Meet Hadara
Hike the Banias
Begin "Tikun Olam" Weekend Seminar with Hadara Gil at the kibbutz
Prepare for Shabbat
Kabbalat Shabbat with Hadara
Shabbat Dinner
Oneg Shabbat Program with Hadara
Overnight: Tel-Hai Youth Hostel

Saturday, April 30
Program with Hadara
Lunch at the Hotel
Rest and Relaxation
Seudah Shleesheet
Havdalah and Weekend Summary
Dinner at the Hotel
Pub Night at Kfar Giladi
Overnight: Tel-Hai Youth Hostel

Sunday, May 1
ATV rides
Lunch in the Field Provided by Tamir
Drive to Schafim school and visit at the work site
Drive to Tel-Hai College
Introduction to the Coast to Coast- Galilee Panhandle Partnership, to the region and orientation: Gerda Jacobsson, Field Coordinator, Coast to Coast Partnership, UIA Canada
Meet with Simone Shitkberger and home hosts
Dinner at Tel-Hai College Provided by Eti Catering
Overnight: Home Hospitality

Monday, May 2
Yom Hashoah
Breakfast with home hosts
Drive to the Western Galilee
Guided Program at the Ghetto Fighters Kibbutz
Lunch in the Kibbutz Dining Hall
Overnight: Home Hospitality

Tuesday, May 3
Breakfast with hosts
Drive to Schafim School
Volunteer program
Lunch at the School
Rafting at Kfar Blum
Top Rope
Visit centre for young adults
Overnight: home hospitality

Wednesday, May 4
Breakfast with home hosts
Drive to Schafim School Volunteer program
Lunch at the School 
Visit the Canada Centre
Drive back to home hosts
Dinner Out and Pub Night
Overnight: Home Hospitality

Thursday, May 5
Breakfast with home hosts
Drive to Schafim School Volunteer program and Closing Ceremony
Lunch at the School
Summary with Gerda, Judi & Jeff at Tel-Hai College
Festive BBQ Dinner
Overnight: Home Hospitality

Friday, May 6
Breakfast with home hosts
Drive to Jerusalem with Israeli Participants
Mount Scopus
Machne Yehuda
Har Herzl
Shabbat Preparations
Kabbalat Shabbat at the Kotel
Walk Back to Hotel
Shabbat Dinner at Hotel
Oneg Shabbat Program
Overnight: Leonardo Inn, Jerusalem

Saturday, May 7
Rest and Relaxation
Lunch at Hotel
Walk to the Old City
Overview from the Roof of Kever David
Tour the Old City
Seudah Shleesheet and Havdalah
Dinner on Own on Ben Yehuda Street
Overnight: Leonardo Inn

Sunday, May 8
Breakfast and Check-Out
Depart to the Airport

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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