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600 Standing Together in Toronto last night

A conversation with Rula Daood & Itamar Avneri

Last night, over 600 people gathered in the Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library here in Toronto for an event co-sponsored by The New Israel Fund, Friends of Standing Together Canada, and Heart to Heart. I was in attendance and was delighted to see no fewer than two dozen DJC community members. The program was a moderated conversation by Dr. Miri Sucharov (professor of Political Science at Carleton University) with Rula Daood and Itamar Avneri. Daood (an Arab Israeli) is the National co-Director of Standing Together and a community organizer. Avneri (a Jewish Israeli) is a social and peace activist, a community organizer, and a member of national leadership in Standing Together. 

I have written and spoken about Standing Together so you may know its mandate, purpose, and goals. Succinctly, they are an Israeli grassroots movement comprised of Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel in pursuit of peace and equality for all. Their message is that the status quo – both in Gaza and in Israel – is no longer sustainable or viable and that for everyone in the region to experience peace, freedom of movement, security, and self-determination, there needs to be another option available to the Israeli citizenry. 

Leaders in Standing Together have been travelling around the Diaspora speaking to audiences, spreading their message, and asking for support (financial and otherwise). Last night’s speakers shared personal stories of trauma and injustices, as well as what drew them to peace activism. We also heard anecdotes of Israeli Arabs and Jews weeping together, working together, and grappling together since October 7.

If you attended last night’s event, please share in our DJC Facebook group what you heard, what you learned, and what you are taking away from that experience – so that our whole DJC community may learn and be inspired.

Heart to Heart

One of the evening’s co-sponsors, Heart to Heart, is a new organization for me and I am excited to share here what they are all about. It was founded in 2011 as a partnership between Givat Haviva and Hashomer Hatzair-Camp Shomria Canada. 

Heart to Heart is a youth leadership program for Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel. We are dedicated to empowering youth with the tools and skills they need to create a more inclusive and peaceful society. Our summer camp program, held in Ontario, serves as the springboard for year-round activities, community building, and joint action back home. 

Heart to Heart was created to counter the culture of division and fear that exists between these communities, the reality of structural racism and inequality in Israeli society and to create an empowered generation ready to fight this system and demand better. Although it may not be fair that young people inherit problems from previous generations, we believe that with the right tools, they can find the creative solutions needed to chart a new path. We believe that youth have a valuable role to play in creating change, not only as future leaders, but as meaningful actors right now. Heart to Heart participants are a ray of hope and a reminder of what is possible when people are given the opportunity to come together to learn and listen. (heart-to-heart.ca/what-we-do)

Each summer, Heart to Heart brings together teens, half of them Jewish and half of them Palestinian citizens of Israel, to a summer camp in Perth, Ontario to learn how to live together with trust and respect. Participants learn mindfulness practices, active listening skills, and how to engage in difficult conversations. Campers dream of a better and different future for themselves and their peers and carry these skills and visions back home. I hope you join me in feeling pride that the camp is located right here in our province!

Are you involved with Heart to Heart? Please let me know so I can continue to learn more about this important organization. 

Please let me know what you think about today’s offering: rabbiglickman@djctoronto.com. I look forward to the conversation.

This is our ongoing blog series to introduce the DJC community to podcasts, books, websites, and other media offerings that may expand our understandings of the current war in particular and Israel/Palestine more broadly. I hope you listen/watch/read these recommendations with curiosity, openness, and empathy.

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