JNFU Canada mission participants pose for a group photo.
(photo credit: DENNIS ZINN KKL-JNF)
Most of the JNFU trip participants were Jewish and many had been to Israel at least once before.
JNFU is a JNF Canada organization that connects Jewish students in campuses across Canada. Accompanying the group was JNF Canada’s Campus and Young Leadership coordinator, Anna Kos, who described the participants as committed and passionate about Israel.
“We hope that they will be effective Ambassadors for Israel when they go back to their universities; especially on those campuses where the BDS movement is gaining strength with little opposition.”
Also accompanying the group were Sharon Geva and Gioia Menasce of KKL-JNF’s Canada Desk, together with Israeli tour guide Ron Elberg.
"KKL-JNF places great importance on bringing young people closer and strengthening their ties to Israel", said Sharon Geva. "The Canadian delegation is one of many groups that come here to get to know the country closely and the development activities of KKL-JNF."
On the penultimate day of the tour, the group traveled to Beer Sheva where they visited the local tennis center which is due to be renovated shortly following a generous donation from JNF Canada.
Israel Tennis Center (ITC) Manager Yaniv Sakira told the group that unlike other places in the western world, tennis in Israel is for not only the rich and privileged. He used his own life experience as an example of how tennis in Israel welcomes and helps the less fortunate members of society.
“I came from a poor background and a broken home. As a child, the ITC gave me the opportunity to channel my energies in a positive way that kept me off the streets and out of trouble. I managed to hone my skills and become one of the country’s best tennis players. Later I became an officer in the army and graduated from university. I can honestly say that the values and life skills I learned came from my years at the ITC.”
In response to his guests’ questions, Sakira explained that the club is open to all residents of Israel across the racial and religious divide.
“We have Jewish, Arab, and Druze players. Many of our members are children of Ethiopian immigrants. Three of our current champions who represent Israel in tennis tournaments around the world are from the nearby Bedouin town of Rahat.”
He then led the group around the facility while explaining the construction project that would soon begin. The building is being made possible thanks to the contributions made by of Friends of JNF Canada at its 2015 Negev Dinner in Toronto honouring Kevin Green and Joseph Frieberg. The building will be named the Green Frieberg Social Services Complex.
Read more about the JNFU Canada mission to Israel and see photos