Edmonton teens visit partnership region in Israel

After a week of meaningful ceremonies and celebrations for Israel at 75, I can’t help but marvel at how our community shows up. New volunteers are being mentored by experienced ones to guarantee activities persist and expand, and community members are being welcomed at multiple events and programs. Hillel and Genesis both had events this past week and welcomed new attendees as well. Our appetite to reconnect has not wavered, and with our community partners, we could do so in full force!  

Our connection to Jewish people not only happens locally, but across the ocean as well. This morning I woke to texts from our Partnership2Gether (P2G) Coast to Coast director in Israel, Meytal Novidomsky, from an Israeli P2G volunteer leader, Miri Armon (who started the incredible project we are funding through the Edmonton Jewish Film Festival), and from our P2G chair Erin Wright. They were excited to share with me how they were all reconnecting! Our participants on the March of the Living spent the day in Kiryat Shmona, visiting with teens from the region and volunteering at Renanim School for children with special needs. After the activities, they enjoyed a kabbalat Shabbat together and had kiddush and a song in memory of Alex Buckman z”l.    

March of the Living participants witnessed firsthand the joy of a country celebrating its existence for 75 years. I realized how Israel and Zionism have evolved over this time when I listened to a new Times of Israel (What Matters Now) podcast. In this podcast, Gil Troy explains Zionism and examines it under a new lens. The three pillars of Zionism are that we are a Jewish people, with ties to a homeland, and the right to establish a state in our homeland. He speaks of how the movement began as a political one, but now has grown to a human one—focusing on peoplehood, community, and connectedness. We are a people bonded to a nation, whether through our observances or through our association with a greater Jewish people.     

Our teens are also seeing how our United Jewish Appeal campaign dollars make an impact in the northern periphery of Israel. We are supporting building skills and expertise and keeping a connection to Israel through these P2G programs. The upcoming Edmonton Jewish Film Festival raises funds that help projects continue such as how we are connecting youth in Metullah with counterparts in neighbouring Arab villages. It’s a grassroots initiative responding to an identified need that we in our remote corner of Canada can nurture and endorse. Am Yisrael Chai-the Jewish people live!    

Switching gears, the applications for the integrated bursary program were due Monday, May 1. Because of the federal government strike, we are extending this deadline to Monday, May 8. You can direct your questions about the process or your application to Machelle at Jewish Family Services. We are also pleased to announce that we are hiring two students with thanks to the Canada Summer Jobs Grant. If you know of anyone who fits our requirements, please encourage them to apply.  

This has been a hectic week for our local parents, teachers, volunteers, and community members!    

I wish you all a Shabbat shalom. Please take a moment to register for the Edmonton Jewish Film Festival, as I look forward to seeing you at one of our four in-person films. 

Shabbat shalom,