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Aviva Cramer


by Aviva Cramer

Six students in grades 11 and 12, who are all part of a student council, as well as their communications teacher, Revital Meiri arrived here from Danciger High School  in Kiryat Shmona, Israel at the end of October. They came as part of  the “Gesher Chai”  Partnership 2000 Program (P2K) between Danciger and Gray Academy of Jewish Education in Winnipeg.

The students shared their feelings about their stay in Winnipeg and how it compares to  life in Israel. Shani Fridman, said she did not expect to be welcomed by smiling Gray Academy student hosts with posters at the airport. Shani enjoyed being able to re-unite with students  from the Gray Academy delegation that was previously in Winniprg. Shani said that one of the differences between Israel and Canada, is that “Canada is calm and Israel is loud,”  but “I love Israel because it’s my home.” 

 Meidan Yakovi, said his favourite part of the program was being hosted by Jona Erenberg’s family. To repay Winnipeg for his warm experiences, he intends to host a Gray Academy student in the future.  Meidan said he did not expect the Gray Academy  to be “so large,” nor did he expect to be treated “like a celebrity.” He especially enjoyed go-carting and  touring Winnipeg. 

Yuval Malul, said“she likes everyone because they are so nice.” She showed off her new rings that she bought on the program’s scheduled shopping trip to Polo Park Mall. Yuval was amazed that “everyone knew about them and was excited that they came.”  

Gavriel Zerah was the first Israeli to mention the “shock”  of Winnipeg’s cold temperature.  He marvelled that “everything is bigger, the mall and the school, compared to [Kiryat Shmona].” He said everyone here is “friendly and relaxed” and  some of the families are “very Israeli” in terms of hospitality.


Dorine Gold, noticed that Winnipeggers are polite whereas in Israel everyone is full of “hugs and kisses.”  She says “P2K is great” and loved how the program allowed her to “meet new people and have more family in another country.” 

Shimon Moyal,  said that the program enabled him to “ learn and understand the Jewish community outside of Israel.”  He noted that, in Winnipeg, unlike Kiryat Shmona. there are many different groups of Judaism.  

While the students were here, they  were informed of a Katusha rocket that hit a field in Kiryat Shemona, which is situated  right on Israel's border with Lebanon.  Fridman and Malul worried for their families and felt it was hard to be away from them during this incident. Yakovi noted that the situation in Israel is more or less safe , but  said that hearing the news while  he was  here made him feel ‘disconnected” to the country. Gold felt safer in Canada but  said she continues to love her country even though it is in danger. Shimon said  he   was  reminded of Second Lebanon war,  during which he  stayed at home watching Katusha rockets through his window. 

All of the students will soon begin their mandatory army service in Israel. Dorine said she  wants to to be “something meaningful” in the army, like a pilot or parachutist, because she is “Zionistic and believes every Jewish Israeli should do the army."  

Meidan hopes to be in the navy because he “likes the sea” and wants to continue to make his  career in th earmy. Gavriel wants to follow Meidan’s path but wants to be in an elite group of the Navy Seals. Yuval wishes to do “Shnat Sheirut” which is a year of volunteering before the army,  because she feels it is important to give back to her country.   Fridman told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that as a child she wanted to be a pilot but she is "unsure" now.  However, Shani is confidant that she wants a “serious” job because she’s “grown up with the army as something  important for her.” Moyal is  still deciding on his position in the army but is certain he “wants to guard Israel because others have guarded” for him.

All of the students hope to keep in contact with their new friends in Winnipeg.

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