What creating connections to Israel look like

The Israel Engagement department's mandate is to create and maintain strong connections with Israel. One way is to bring Israel into schools and into the community in innovative ways. Here are some of the projects we are working on in making it happen:

Project Encounter

Project encounter aims at promoting global citizenship, understanding cultural narrative, and most importantly works with teenagers on what it means to be a teenager today’s society. This innovative project brings together 10 ShinShinim and 10 grade 11 students from a local high school to engage in meaningful conversations and relationship building.  Throughout the year participants discuss issues such as identity, global citizenship, and their own place in the world.  Through these regular interactions with the ShinShinim, students develop an understanding of the differences between being a teenager in Canada and Israel and what common interests connect them around social justice issues. Currently, this project is running with Westmount Collegiate Institute in York Region.  

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)

The STEM school twinning initiative saw schools developing peer-to-peer and school-to-school relationships with those in Israel.  Currently we have 4 twinned schools (Bialik, RHA, Associated and Leo Baeck) with 2 more starting next year (Paul Penna and Netivot) our STEM initiative will reach over 1,200 students across Toronto and Israel. 

Each twinned school uses creativity, imagination, and collaboration to engage students in STEM education as well as expose them to Israel and Israel’s culture. The year’s projects included units on energy, the human body, and government and citizenship. 

One of the wonderful outcomes of our STEM initiative was the Jewish Day School Bridge Building competition hosted by Bialik Hebrew Day School. This year, 9 Jewish Day Schools participated along with 3 teams that travelled from Goldwater High School in Eilat. The delegation of students and teachers were able to learn more about Jewish education in Toronto, work together with Toronto students on STEM related activities, and tour Toronto.  We are looking forward to another year of learning, innovation, and resourcefulness from our STEM program.

Sparks of Change

Our newest program, Sparks of Change, was an incredible success. The Sparks of Change delegation came to Toronto to learn about Jewish North America and educate our Day School students on life in Israeli for both Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis. The delegation met with 4 Jewish Day Schools, and students from Westmount Collegiate Institute to talk about geopolitics, cultural narratives, and how they see themselves in relation to the other.

We look forward to continuing our work with all our partner institutions as we work together to infuse Israel Engagement into as many of our projects with the greater community as possible. 

If you want to learn more on any of these and other projects or if you wish to directly support any of the Israel Engagement projects and initiatives, please contact the Israel Engagement office at IsraelEngagement@ujafed.org

Sasha Wittes
Partnership Coordinator, Israel Engagement


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