Wednesday, August 01, 2012
The JUMP Toronto group for Jewish young professionals visits Israel with JNF Canada.
"JNF Canada teamed up for this mission with JUMP, the Jewish Urban Meeting Place in Toronto for young professionals aged 22-32. There are about forty people on this tour, and it's been a great trip." Rebecca Woods Baum
, Outreach and Program Coordinator of JNF Canada
, was describing the recent KKL-JNF Canadian mission that recently visited Israel. "The mission's name is 'Take Back Zionism' and it's really about falling in love with Israel," Rebecca continued. "KKL-JNF is the ideal venue for such a trip, because it's the ultimate Jewish organization, and '100% Israel.'
JUMP group at tree planting in Lavi Forest. Photo: JNF Canada
"We visited a lot of KKL-JNF sites and projects in Israel, including Halutza
, where KKL-JNF is helping build new villages for the Gaza Strip evacuees, Martyrs' Forest
, the Besor Research and Development
Station and Yatir Forest
, to mention just a few. We also were in the Carmel Forest, where we participated in KKL-JNF's 'Forester for a Day'
program. We visited the memorial for the 44 people who were killed in the blaze, which was a very powerful experience for everyone.
"Before this trip, many of the participants had never heard of KKL-JNF. I think that now they have gained a better understanding of everything KKL-JNF does for Israel and also of the country's needs," Rebecca concluded.
Shlomo Buzaglo, co-leader of the group together with Rebecca, spoke about JUMP and the partnership with KKL-JNF: "JUMP has been around five years and is geared towards young Jewish professionals in Toronto. We offer classes on Judaism, socials, festivals, volunteer projects, professional development workshops, networking and more. Our goal is to strengthen the bond between Jewish people, their heritage and Israel. We understand that Jews aren't necessarily going to synagogues to explore their Judaism, so we created a place that's non-judgmental and fun.
Forester for a Day in the Carmel Forest. Photo: JNF Canada
"This trip to Israel was partially subsidized for participants who completed an eight-week course at the JUMP center in Toronto. We're hoping that some of them will become the Jewish and Zionist leaders of the next generation. This is the first time we've partnered with JNF Toronto for such a mission, and I would say that the partnership is seamless. We had daily classes in Eco-Zionism with Dr. Bentziyon Lavie of KKL-JNF's Youth and Education Division and learned about how KKL-JNF is at the forefront of environmental activism in many different fields.
"Many of the sites we saw had a powerful impact on the group. My feeling is that they'll be going home with a sense of holiness and connection to our people and our land. In terms of working together with KKL-JNF, I think both our organizations will enjoy a longtime partnership. It's been really great working with Rebecca, and the KKL-JNF people in Israel whom we've met are truly amazing."
Group at Kibbutz Malkia. Photo: JNF Canda
Lisa Weinberg teaches business to high school students in Toronto and said that this trip was very different than other times she had visited Israel: "I've been meeting new people with new interests, and it's been very interesting to see the group dynamics. I have to admit that I had basically total ignorance about KKL-JNF before this trip, as did many people in the group. In fact, when someone said that KKL-JNF is not just about trees, everyone laughed. My favorite was our visit to the greenhouses in the Negev and picking vegetables. We couldn't believe that so much produce could be grown in such a hot climate. Most of us didn't know each other before the trip, but now we've become like a little community."
Tracey Goldman is a student at the Teachers College and this was the second time she was participating in a KKL-JNF mission to Israel: "I came last February to work in the Carmel on helping prevent forest fires in the future. JNF organizes wonderful events in Toronto, which I really love to attend. One of the things I realized as a result of this visit is that once you recognize the KKL-JNF flag and logo, you see it everywhere in Israel. I'm definitely planning to stay involved with KKL-JNF!"