(AJNews) – I wrote in my last Pomegranate message about the wonderful diversity of Jewish Calgary, and of the fulsomeness and beauty it brings to our community. I compared this diversity to the lulav and etrog, the four species, and noted that we are comprised of people with different backgrounds who live in diverse households, and who often live and breathe their Judaism differently than one another. Yet, somehow, when we come together as one, and put our differences aside or, even better, when we truly listen to each other and have dialogue, we are an exponentially more authentic and
As I write this message, I am preparing to attend our amazing Coast-to-Coast Partnership (CTC-P2G) meetings in Etzba Hagalil (the Galilee Panhandle). This is a unique partnership with six cities across Canada and five municipalities in the north of Israel. In total, eleven distinct groups coming together as one to form our Coast-to-Coast Partnership2Gether (CTC-P2G). This is like no other Israel ‘twinning’ in the world in that each municipality including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Halifax and Atlantic Canada, Kiryat Shemona, Metulla, Yesod Hama’ala, Galil Elion, and Mevo’ot Hahermon is key to the partnership, and the relationships are not simply bilateral.
Furthermore, the partnership is constructed and motivated to support the region as a whole. Therefore, redundancies of programs or infrastructure are limited, offerings are maximized and scaled (i.e. mental health initiatives, special curricula, etc.), and through gesher chai (living bridge) programming across the ocean between communities, authentic relationships are cultivated and cemented. Of course, there are opportunities to support capital and program projects in specific parts of the region, and many of the partners do so directly. But the focus of the core budget of the partnership and the broader thinking of the CTC-P2G committee, is to bolster the region as a whole. What is good for one is good for all, even though it might look different for how each partner and their citizens and other stakeholders experience it.
The bulk of those involved in the partnership, both Canadian and Israeli, have not only learned much more about one another’s way of Jewish life, but also have forged lifelong friendships, even becoming mishpacha (family). It has been over three years since we last met face to face, but I know it will be like no time has passed at all. We will certainly commit to hard and meaningful work – building up a region with great needs, scarce resources, and significant diversity in its population. We will also definitely hug and smile and laugh, knowing that no challenge of time or distance can alter the care, love, and hope we have for our partners and friends in Etzba Hagalil, nor can it distract us from the work to be done.
It seems to me, though, that the true strength of the partnership is that it is a labour of love shared by people who care deeply. They care about one another, about the region, and about Israel. What could be more motivating and more satisfying? Please consider joining us in our efforts – you will be welcomed with open arms.
Adam Silver is CEO of Calgary Jewish Federation.