Israelis reach out to small communities

Two special Israeli visitors spent a weekend in early May connecting with different groups in the Edmonton Jewish community. Doron Gertzovski, 26, and Netanel (Nati) Benami, 25, were on a small communities mission. During their 10 day tour of Canada, Doron and Nati also visited Calgary and Ottawa. The Small Communities program is a partnership with the Jewish Agency, the Federations, and Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora.

In Edmonton, they spent time with Talmud Torah students, Hillel Edmonton, teens from B’nai Brith Youth Organization, local Israelis, Temple Beth Ora and Congregation Beth Shalom. Doron and Nati’s goal was to bring Israeli culture during this packed schedule.

“For us, it’s amazing opportunity to bring Israel, to bring our Judaism, and our Israeli story to the community,” says Nati.

“We have an opportunity to educate by sharing our stories and find that the connections and the dots that connect us. The connection is we really live in Israel and they live here but we all have the same feeling that we want to help and represent Israel,” says Doron.

Nati is based in Tel Aviv where he is a social media manager at a start up company. Before his military service, Nati accomplished a gap year as a Young Emissary (a program of the Jewish Agency) and lived in Westport, CT, USA, for a year. During that year, he conducted dozens of events and activities for the local Jewish community. At the end of this year, he volunteered as a counselor at JCA Shalom (Malibu, CA) Jewish summer camp.

Doron is a dance and theatre teacher who works with the Israeli Ministry of Education and is a dancer in a dance group that performs in Israel and abroad. She’s based in a small community of moshav Avihayil in Emek-Hefer Valley Regional Council. Currently, Doron is a student at the Kibbutzim Seminary College with a master’s degree in visual arts.

They both say that this tour was an opportunity not to educate but to share stories and experiences. Doron and Nati encouraged everyone they met in Edmonton to keep in touch with them so their relationships could continue beyond the mission.