By MYRON LOVE
Two weeks in Israel in late February and early March, compliments of the P2G (Partnership Together) program, has left a strong impression on the nine Gray Academy Grade 10 and 11 students who participated in the experience.
”P2G gave us the opportunity to develop a strong connection with Jews our age living similar lifestyles halfway across the world,” says Cari Slayen. This connection made the trip a unique and memorable experience and impacted my personal connection to Israel”
”P2G was such an amazing experience, and the friendships I made will last forever,” adds Bina Rubin. “Before we left Kiryat Shmonah, I called my parents and told them to book my flights because I want to go back in the summer.”
Shaked Karabelnicoff agrees that P2G was a very unique experience. “You are fully immersed and feel completely part of an Israeli family,” she says. “You eat Israeli food, listen to Israeli music and go to an Israeli school. Essentially, for two weeks, you live like an Israeli.”
Gray Academy teacher Avi Posen, a P2G alumnus himself, who now coordinates P2G in the school and led the trip this time, observes that the most powerful aspect of P2G is that the experience provides the students with a personal connection to Israel. “Since the inception of the program, nearly every participant in P2G has returned to Israel after graduation” he points out. “Many have gone to university in Israel, have made aliyah and volunteered or served in the IDF.”
“And most of the others become involved in our Winnipeg Jewish community.”
He adds that many other communities look to the Gray Academy program as a model of what they can do.
Last fall, P2G celebrated its 18th anniversary. Originally called P2K (Partnership 2000), the program’s concept was to link Jewish schools and students in major Canadian cities (other than Toronto and Montreal) with schools and students in different parts of Israel. Thus, the Gray Academy is paired with Danciger High school in Kiryat Shemona in northern Israel. Once a year, a group of Gray Academy students visit Danciger and Kiryat Shemona and, once a year. Danciger students come here.
As well, Gray Academy’s elementary school is twinned with Nachshonei Hachula elementary school in Yesod Hamala in the Hula Valley, also in Northern Israel, while Brock Corydon School ( home to the Hebrew bilingual program) is partnered with Ramat Korazim elementary school, which is just north of Lake Kinneret.
At the same time that the Gray Academy group was in Kiryat Shemona, Gray Academy teacher Silvina Mohadeb was visiting Nachshonei Hachula as part of a teacher exchange program ,leading programs and workshops connecting the two schools and communities.
Posen notes that the group of Gray Academy students who went on this trip (including Federico Biderman, Josh Muyal, Jacqui Cohen, Brooke Lieberman, Michelle Marchtein and Liat Stitz, in addition to Shaked Karabelnicoff, Cari Slayen, and Bina Rubin) was one of the largest delegations to date from the school.
Among the highlights of the visit,, Posen notes, were a visit to a seniors’ home in Kiryat Shemona (where the students presented the home with a mixer, which they had bought with funds they raised before the trip); a stop at an army base, where the visitors presented PVRs to the soldiers so that they can watch TV during their down time; experiencing a music festival in Jerusalem’s Old City; touring northern Israel; and seeing how Purim is celebrated in Israel.
“The kids were amazed to see a citywide Purim parade,” he says.
On their last night in Kiryat Shemona, Posen says, the Danciger school community hosted a farewell party attended by the host families and large student council. Each of the Gray Academy students gave a speech in Hebrew.
“It was an emotional evening,” Posen says.
On their last night in Jerusalem, the Gray Academy students had a reunion with recent Gray Academy P2G alumni of the past two years currently living in Israel. “We sent out an email inviting them to meet us on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem,” Posen says. “They all came even though only one of them lives in Jerusalem. They explained the impact that P2G had on them and what they’re doing in Israel now.”
Our New Jewish Reality
By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.
Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead
Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.
To read the full story on the CBC website, go to https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333
Israeli show satirizing students in the US who give blind support to Hamas
If you want to take a break from the tension that comes with following every bit of news associated with Israel’s war on Hamas watch this hilarious video satirizing the stupidity of US college kids who give unqualified support to Hamas: https://twitter.com/LeviYonit/status/1721272323087401428?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1721272323087401428%7Ctwgr%5E833a2a425e6d7029d6ef37b7c9042c1d81dbf8ba%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.timesofisrael.com%2Fisraeli-satire-shows-mocking-of-us-student-support-for-hamas-goes-viral%2F