THE CANADIAN ISRAELI PARTNERSHIP: NESI’AH TOVA
As Canada turns 150 and Israel turns 70 this year, I wanted to take a moment to consider what we’ve learned from the history of the Israeli-Canadian relationship. The friendship between Canada and Israel began even before the State of Israel declared its independence. As early as 1947, Canada was one of 11 countries that served on the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), which was tasked with making recommendations for the future development of the area that is now Israel. Today, Canada and Israel enjoy a free trade agreement, signed in 1997, making Israel one of only three countries that enjoys this trade status with Canada. Indeed, in the Middle East conflict, no other nation, not even the United States, has been so liberally and publicly supportive of the policies of Israel’s government as the Great White North.
Toronto specifically is one of Israel’s greatest supporters, a fact made very clear through UJA Israel Engagement’s program in Toronto. This year and in year’s past, Toronto hosts the largest contingent of ShinShinim worldwide with our communa coming in at 25 Shinshinim! This is something you, as a community should be proud of. I know I am. Toronto also has a unique relationship with the Eilat/Eilot region, the city of Bat-Yam and Toronto has also played an important role in the rebuilding of the city of Sderot.
Just as Israel and Canada have a strong relationship, so too is there a strong partnership between Beth Tikvah and Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda through the UJA ShinShinim program. Even as I am speaking to you now, my partner Noam, is delivering this very speech to their congregation as they also prepare to shortly depart on the UJA Mission to Israel. Noam noticed how the amazing Toronto -Israel partnership has affected both Toronto and these cities in Israel in a very positive way; so much so that it made him a bit jealous. So in true Noam style he took this feeling and translated it into action. With his Holon enthusiasm and pride, Noam wondered why his city doesn't have its own partnership yet? Noam believes, and I agree, that partnership regions in general, are very important because it’s like having a second home, another place in the world that you feel welcomed and accepted in. I also think that the bond Toronto has with Israel is very unique and I wish that all communities in the world would have this kind of connection. Noam has already begun a conversation with people at the Jewish Agency For Israel (JAFI) and in his municipality to start moving things forward toward a new partnership with Holon, yes, even all the way from Canada.
As some of you will be leaving this week on the UJA centennial mission and travel around Israel, I would like to wish you all a few things. I wish that the weather will be nice, as it surprisingly and unexpectedly has been here. I wish you enjoy what you see and also, what you don’t- please feel free to report back to us. We, as Israelis, have to remember that there is always room for improvement. I wish that you’ll eat as much as possible of the best food there is, and bring some back with you. Visit the many shuks/markets, the beaches, the incredible historical sites both modern and biblical. Learn about Israel’s fascinating history, meet interesting people, and travel with an open mind. And while you're at it- say hi to my family, or maybe take a side trip to Zichron Yaakov, with hugs from me to my family. If it is your first trip, I wish that it will be the first of many and for those of you who are returning, may you be impressed by all the many things that have changed and improved since the last time you were there.
Wishing you all a meaningful, enjoyable and memorable experience!
Nes’iah Tova and Shabbat Shalom!