UJA Federation of Greater Toronto recently welcomed 20 Diller Teen Fellows from its partner region, Eilat-Eilot, for the annual Jewish Communities Mifgash. The Diller Teen Fellowship is UJA’s 15-month teen leadership development initiative that aims to bring together teens from Israel and the Diaspora. The Jewish Commuities Mifgash (JCM) is the first exchange opportunity uniting the 20 Toronto Diller Teens with their peers from Eilat-Eilot.
From April 7-17, 2016, the visiting teens were immersed into the life and culture of Jewish Canadian high school students, bringing to life the values of UJA’s partnership with Eilat. Each Eilat Fellow was hosted by the family of a Toronto Fellow. For Itamar Kofman, a Toronto Diller Teen Fellow, and his family, this experience was incredible. “As an Israeli living in Canada, I found JCM to be a life changing experience for both me and my family. Having another Israeli living with us for a week strengthened our Israeli identity.”
In addition to the friendships and group bonding that are highlights for teens from both countries, the Eilat cohort took a journey through Toronto while their counterparts were in school. They explored Toronto through the lenses of Community, Jewish Identity, Leadership, Culture, and Tikkun Olam. From visiting Niagara Falls and watching a Raptors game to meeting with key Rabbis and community leaders, JCM provided a broad overview of our community and how it is connected to Israel. They were welcomed into TanenbaumCHAT for an Israel Engagement experience with Grade 10 students, where they got a taste of high school in Toronto. They hosted a mock Passover Seder for Holocaust Survivors in partnership with Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, and even created a custom Haggadah focusing on Jewish Identity. The teens also attended two UJA committee meetings (the Israel Engagement Committee and the Israel and Oversees Committee) to learn from the community leaders that support partnership in Toronto and Israel.
The week concluded with a special visit to Queen’s Park organized by CIJA. After touring the parliament, the teens met with MPP Monte Kwinter and MPP Mike Colle about the role of our government in supporting the Jewish and secular communities of Toronto. The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem arranged a special meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne, who was at parliament for a Yom Hashoah ceremony. The Premier commended the Diller Teen Fellows for their commitment to global leadership. “It was a great honour for me to meet the Premier of Ontario,” said Liraz Shaul from Eilat. “She showed me how open minded the people of Ontario are.”
“After this amazing JCM experience, I feel like I have a whole new addition to my family [in Eilat],” said Kofman. In July, the Toronto Diller Teen Fellows will visit Israel and spend one week in Eilat-Eilot with their peers. We look forward to continuing to develop this partnership with our family in Eilat and across Israel.
Do you know the future leaders of our community?
The Toronto Diller Teen Fellows are now accepting applications for the 2016-2017 cohort. Apply now at jewishtoronto.com/diller