Exploring Jewish Peoplehood first hand

Learning about Diaspora Israel relations is one thing, experiencing it for 10 days while hosting an Israeli fellow in your house is another.

One of the core experiences of the Diller Teen Fellows Program is Peoplehood; the awareness in unity, belonging to the tribe of the Jewish people. In March we hosted 20 Israeli fellows from our partner city in Eilat-Eilot for 10 days to learn about the Toronto Jewish community as a piece of the puzzle of the Toronto mosaic. The Eilat-Eilot fellows were hosted in our Toronto Teen’s homes, they learned first-hand what it means to be a Jew in Toronto.

During these 10 days our Eilat-Eilot counterparts visited synagogues of different denominations, the historic Kensington market, and they learned about indigenous history in parallel to Jewish history at the ROM. They visited our Provincial Parliament at Queen’s park, they met with Jewish students on campus through Hillel at Ryerson. They were introduced to the emerging Russian and Israeli community at the Schwartz Riesman Centre and they volunteered with vulnerable seniors at the Bernard Betel Centre.  These educational visits were balanced by fun activities such as; the CN Tower, Niagara Falls and a Maple Syrup tour!

These authentic experiences exposed our Israeli counterparts to questions such as; what does it mean to be a Jewish Teen in Toronto? How does Judaism integrate into the Canadian cultural landscape? How is a Jew in the Diaspora connected to Israel? What does the future of the Toronto Jewish community look like?

The experiences will follow our Israeli counterparts on their journey home. They will continue to ask these important questions and perhaps even be advocates for Diaspora Jewry. This sneak preview into our lives here will truly help build bridges between our teens and our partnership teens; Eilat-Eilot and Toronto. This experience will be even more heightened when we travel to Israel for 3 weeks in July to learn about life in Israel.

Hadas Hait-Barnea, 
Diller Teen Fellows Coordinator


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