Hand-in-hand: Partnership2Gether

An initiative that pairs Diaspora communities with regions in Israel, Partnership2Gether strengthens the ties between Canadians and Israelis.

Since the mid-1990s, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver has worked closely with our partnership region: Etzba HaGalil (the Galilee Panhandle). Geographically, economically and politically isolated from the country’s centre, Etzba HaGalil is challenged by a lack of jobs, infrastructure and opportunity. Security has often been a challenge for the region as well; the area bore the brunt of the 2006 Lebanon War, taking 40% of the missile hits launched against Israel. We are joined in the partnership by five other Canadian Jewish communities: Atlantic Canada, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Winnipeg.

While the security issues flowing from its location on the Lebanese border, the region’s bigger issues are related to social and economic factors.  The predominance of small, rural communities in the region, and its location in the northernmost part of Israel make it difficult to ensure that 50,000 residents have the same  social, educational and employment opportunities that are readily available in the centre of Israel.

Through Partnership2Gether (formerly Partnership 2000), our Jewish Federation has strategically invested funds to strengthen this region through education and social welfare programs, capital projects and regional development, and built enduring relationships between members of our own community and residents of Etzba HaGalil.

The partnership is based on a shared belief in Am Echad (one people) and has worked according to a two-fold mandate:

  • To provide deep and meaningful people-to-people connections between Canadians and Galilee Panhandle residents through the Gesher Chai (Living Bridge) program; and
  • To enhance the quality of life in the Galilee Panhandle in the areas of Youth and Education, and Capacity Building.

Gesher Chai (Living Bridge)
Gesher Chai programs promote global Jewish identity and unity through people-to-people connections between Canadian and Galilee Panhandle residents.  These include:

  • Relationships between day school students (exchange of emails, video-conferencing, exchange of holiday gifts, etc.), typically culminating in a mifgash (exchange) between students;
  • Relationships between educators (exchanges, joint curriculum planning, etc.);
  • Relationships between teens and young adults (social action mifgash, camp programs, dance troupes, medical school mifgash, Hillel, etc.);
  • Relationships between professional affinity groups (medical professionals, social service professionals, etc.).

The impact of these informal educational programs, which promote Jewish identity and unity for elementary and high school students, can be felt around the world and here at home. In this video, Vancouver students talk about the positive impact of Gesher Chai exchange trips with their sister school in Israel. This timeline chronicles the relationship forged between local dance troupe Or Chadash and our partnership region’s Hora Goel dancers.

Youth and Education
In this area we deal with a wide age range, from kindergarten to university, and programs in both informal and formal educational spheres. 

Capacity Building
This area includes leadership development, volunteerism, young populations, infrastructure, and regional development.