What Independence Day Means to Young Israelis in Canada
Shalom Life talks to some of the young Israeli volunteers at Independence Day celebrations.
Toronto's Mel Lastman Square was jumping yesterday in celebration of Israeli Independence Day. The event catered to all age groups and walks of life inspiring a warm sense of unity among the Toronto Jewish Community. From bouncy houses and men on stilts to rock bands, the event brought smiles and an undeniably cheerful presence to North York Boulevard.
There were several youths in volunteer T-shirts happily walking around with handouts for their fellow community members. I was intrigued by this and decided to find out more about what it means to be a volunteer on this special day.
Kateya, a young girl who lived in Israel for nine years before moving back to Canada three years ago, left Israel because of war. "It was becoming dangerous to live there because they were taking in children to the army and navy." When asked about her thoughts on the importance of youth involvement in the Jewish community, she said, "I think it's important in any culture for youths to be involved."
Matthew, another young volunteer, recalls his life in Israel before moving to Canada two and a half years ago. "It was beautiful. We would be on the beach and watch the fireworks." He seems to remember his life back home fondly, but remains just as happy in Canada. "It's important because when people from Israel come to Canada they are exposed to so many cultures and they change their opinions on life. It's important to keep them in touch with what's happening in their home country."
The remarkable presence and excitement from youth volunteers was a beautiful sight leaving an imprint on my memory of the event. Israel and its people show resiliency, pride and compassion for their heritage. The people who participated in this event to celebrate their country's joyous day of independence could surely lead by example.