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At the Kotel from L to R (Avi Posen - teacher chaperone, Lindsey Leipsic - teacher chaperone, Braden Ganetsky, Zack Baron, Rachel Aziza, Galya Lazar, Alyssa Lezerrovici)

The P2G delegation on Ben Yehuda St. in Jerusalem with Gray Academy alumni living in Israel from left to right (Daniel Kleinman, Ashley Kaufman, Jared Ackerman, Ilana Elbaze, Yona Lazar, Avi Posen - teacher chaperone, Rachel Aziza, Zack Baron, Braden Ganetsky, Alyssa Lezerrovici and Galya Lazar)

Purim Party at Danciger High School in Kiryat Shemona

Braden Ganetsky: P2G, the most exceptional trip at the Gray Academy

Braden Ganetsky, April 22, 2014

P2G, or “Partnership 2Gether” is an exchange-like program at Gray Academy. For those unaware of this, every year Gray sends a delegation of students to Danciger High School in Kiryat Shmonah in the north of Israel and they, in turn, send a delegation back. The delegates stay in the house of a host family and get to see what life is like there. This program has been going on for 18 years now and has been a wonderful success. On top of Jewish students from Canada getting to know what life is like in Israel and vice-versa, there is the added benefit of the delegates getting to know their hosts personally and making lifelong friends halfway across the world.

I was lucky enough to be one of the delegates this year for the delegation to Israel. We started out by leaving Winnipeg at the decent time of noon and arriving in Tel-Aviv around 4 pm the next day. We went to our hotel, ate some dinner and took a walk down to the shore, as our hotel was a few blocks from the Mediterranean Sea. There, we did an inaugural blessing by the beach and immediately drove to Jaffa. Jaffa, as I found out soon to my astonishment, is a city with multiple layers of history. There are the thousands-of-years-old ruins and also the few-hundred-years-old houses.

The next day was exciting; it was full of Israel pride, we visited Rabin Square and Independence Hall, and also full of shuks, we went to Shuk HaCarmel in Tel-Aviv and Machaneh Yehuda in Jerusalem. That night we went to the Kotel, had an incredible time praying and dancing with Jews from all over the world, then went to the house of Mordechai Cohen, a resident of Jerusalem, for a traditional Shabbat dinner. Then came Shabbat, so we got to walk everywhere. We walked to synagogue – we went to the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem, to a rabbi’s house for Seudat Shlishit, then ended the day with a night out on the organized chaos of Ben Yehuda street with some Gray Academy graduates who are spending the year in Israel. The following day we went to the Kotel and took an underground tour, then said goodbye to Jerusalem to take the long drive up to Kiryat Shmonah.

We got to Kiryat Shmonah and were greeted with unprecedented hospitality. There was a never ending supply of food (I was often offered couscous at midnight right before going to bed) and not feeling at home was never an option. We got to spend time at their school Danciger every day, plus there were all of the day trips we went on nearly every week day, and even more so we spent time at one of the student’s houses every evening. All of us became unbelievably close in the short time we were there.

Kiryat Shmonah is where the rest of the trip happened, and going into too much detail would take up the entire newspaper! We had many unforgettable times, some of the highlights were the giant Purim party at their school, and the last night we were there, where we all stayed at a park until midnight because we did not want to leave each other. We are still in frequent contact! We all returned from the trip as better leaders and prouder Jews.  Our understanding of and connection to Israel was definitely strengthened from this trip.

I would like to thank the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg for helping to fund this program. Without them I would not have been able to make lifelong friends and be a part of the most exceptional trip at the Gray Academy. It is an unbelievable experience that I will never forget for as long as I live. 

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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