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P2G Exchange Program with Israel Has a Profound Impact on Participants

by Rhonda Spivak, November 28, 2016



by Rhonda  Spivak
Ten Israeli students with two Israeli teachers arrived in Winnipeg between October 19-30 as part of the P2G (Partnership 2Gether) Program, formerly known as P2K (Partnership 2000 program).This exchange program builds unbreakable bonds between the students at  Gray Academy of Jewish Education and the Israeli students from Danciger High School in Kiryat Shmona. For many, the program is a life changing experience, one which makes Diaspora Jews appreciate Israelis and vice versa. About 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.
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." When asked by the Winnipeg Jewish Review whether it is the case that some Gray Academy Students apply to go on the program but are rejected, she said that while that happened on occasion in the distant past, "I can't remember there being a case in the past few years where a Gray Academy student who wanted to go on the program hasn't gone." She said that in the past few years if a student hasn't been accepted to go on the program in a given school year, then it is "guaranteed" that they will go during the next school year.
She also added that "We are grateful to the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg for continuing to support our ability to be connected to the program."
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."
This year the Israeli contingent and their Gray Academy counterparts lead a Shabbat service at Etz Chayim Synagogue and celebrated Sukkot and Simhat Torah at Adas Yeshurun Herzlia and Chabad Lubavitch and also at the Simkin Centre. They also visited the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Sixteen year old Ronit Priel said she really enjoyed "meeting new people" on her visit here and she especially enjoyed "seeing how Jewish culture is outside of Israel. In particular she was interested in seeing "the chazanit and the girls with kippot at Etz Chayim Synagogue, and also seeing women read from the Torah," which she has not witnessed before in Israel. She said that the Shabbat at Etz Chayim was for her the best experience of her trip, and added "I hope to stay in touch with the friends I have made here."
Seventeen year old Dor Arie from Metulla said that for him the highlight of his trip to Winnipeg was meeting the 'wonderful people" and noted that his favourite activity was "Laser -tag." Dor, who is in grade twelve said that next year he wants to serve in an elite special operations force (the "Duvdevan unit") in the  Israel Defense Forces , which trains in human and mechanical counter-surveillance.
Sixteen year old Omer Musiki said that P2G "is a very good program" and he enjoyed "getting to know everyone at Gray Academy," and "everyone has treated us so nicely." After the visit, he said he really "wants to keep in touch' with the people he has met here. He added "It is my first time in Canada, and it is very beautiful. I really enjoyed going to the Forks and the Zoo."
Lexi Palansky , who is in grade 12 at Gray Academy, went to Israel as part of P2G. "It is the best program the school offers in my opinion," she said, noting that "It is an amazing way to make lifelong friends in Israel." Maxine Jacobson also echoed this sentiment, saying she not only enjoyed going on the program to Israel but also enjoyed hosting two Israeli students here.
Tom Hagiladi, an Israeli teacher who was part of the exchange group said "I wasn't expecting such an intense experience," and noted that his Winnipeg counterpart Avi Posen at Gray Academy (co-ordinator of the P2G trip) was doing "an amazing job." He also mentioned it was interesting for him to see how "Judaism has developed more flexible forms" and made "adaptations," noting "It is rare to see women in Israel with kippot reading from the Torah."
Rachel Magnezi the other Israeli teacher who visited here told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that she would like to see the P2G exchange program being expanded. "I really hope there will be a way for even more children to be part of the exchange. I hope that next year even more Winnipeg children will come visit us in Kiryat Shmona."
Avi Posen  noted"P2G continues to be one of the most impactful programs in our Jewish community. The real life connections and relationships that are developed through P2G are truly building the Jewish people and bringing Israeli and Diaspora Jews together".
Shana Menkis, Strategic Development Co-ordinator for the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg summed things up by saying "In Winnipeg, we have so many activities to be proud of within our community. P2G is something we are proud to support within our city and across the sea. We can all be excited that with a program like P2G, specifically Gesher Chai, we are bringing Israel and the diaspora that much closer."








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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.