Two Israelis got their first taste of Canada in early June. Lilach Bauer, 33, and Gilad Inbar, 27, came to Edmonton as part of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s small communities program. The emissaries also visited Winnipeg and Calgary. They spent a few days in each city, learning about Canadian Jewish experiences and engaging with the communities.
While they were in Edmonton, they formed relationships with several local Jewish organizations. Genesis and Hillel welcomed Lilach and Gilad on Thursday night. They attended Shabbat programs with Talmud Torah, PJ Library, Beth Shalom, and Temple Beth Ora throughout Friday and Saturday.
Lilach and Gilad expressed how grateful they are about Israel as their native country. They shared their rich family lineage in an interview with the Jewish Federation. Gilad said his family has been living in Israel for many generations, while Lilach’s family came from all over the world after the Holocaust. “Israel is home to all the Jews in the world. You have two homes, one in Canada and one in Israel. It’s a safe place for all,” said Gilad.
One goal of their visit was to allow the Edmonton Jewish community to understand Israel from the inside, as their country can be negatively portrayed on social media. They said that an internal perspective can help interpret Israeli headlines in the media. By explaining their life experiences, Lilach and Gilad could help educate Jewish Edmonton and share Israeli culture.
As they met members from the community, it fascinated the emissaries to learn how Jewish life in Canada differs from Israel. Gilad's intention was to come to Canada to express his Israeli story and understand the lives of Edmontonians. “It’s the connection between us that brings the spirit of Israel to here,” says Gilad.
“Most Israelis inside of Israel don’t have antisemitic issues. However, they have different issues. These can include protecting our Israeli and Jewish values worldwide,” adds Lilach. Gilad and Lilach say they feel connected to Jews in Edmonton through their Jewish identity.
They found Canadians to be very welcoming and our country to have wide open spaces. “People are kind and relaxed, and there is a lot of land. It’s not like this in Israel. I like it all green and the lakes,” says Gilad.
Lilach and Gilad left for Calgary on Sunday, June 4, hoping to visit Canada again and re-engaging with Jewish Edmonton.
The Small Communities program is a partnership between the Jewish Agency, Jewish Federations across Canada, and Israel's Ministry of Diaspora.