Strengthening an authentic relationship between Israel and Diaspora

UJA’s Israel Engagement Department has been abuzz over the last few months and we are pleased to share some of this activity with you through our newsletter; from our annual Israel Engagement Mission, to our inaugural Head-of-School Mission to Israel, from our collaboration with the dialogue delegation Sparks of Change toour upcoming Diller JCM (Jewish Community Mifgash).

Pesach has always been my favourite holiday. I love the family time, the traditions-old and new of the Seders, I even love the food. I also love the rich symbolism of this holiday. Symbolism like the call to remember and name our history, our road to freedom and to own the responsibility that comes with experiencing slavery. Also, least we forget knowing the quest for freedom and finding ourselves with such freedoms both in the Diaspora and in the ever-changing, diverse and rich country in Israel.

Pesach also connects so deeply to the work that we do together. Israel Engagement at its core is about strengthening an authentic relationship between Israel and Diaspora through building deep and ongoing relationships that focus on contemporary issues in the Israel of today. Israel which we celebrate in the Haggadah has evolved into the Israel that we are so deeply invested in. We work with our greater community, we find connection points and meaning, and we aspire to foster a love of Israel in young people in our schools, camps and synagogues. And through this journey of grappling, contemplation, love, questioning, I encourage all of us to do so with the sensitivity and passion that guides our retelling of the story of Pesach.

And with Pesach around the corner, with the ever-changing seasons, we have some of our changes to share. I will be off for the year on maternity leave, returning to the department and our important work together in March 2019.  Throughout this year, I look forward to participating in the creative, stimulating and ongoing Israel Engagement opportunities offered to our community through UJA’s Israel Engagement.

Lior Hameiri, whom many of you might remember from previous years, will be returning with his family to Toronto and will be assuming the role of Interim Director, Israel Engagement as of July 2018. Between my departure and Lior’s arrival, please direct your emails and needs to the respective professionals:

ShinShinim-Yahav Barnea,
Diller- Hadas Hait-Barnea,
Israel Engagement STEM and Partnership Initiatives- Sasha Wittes,

An early Chag Aviv Sameach and best of luck over the next few months,
Ryla Braemer
Director, Israel Engagement


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