Netanyahu Kicking off Walk with Israel 2010

Published: May 22nd 2010
in News » Local

Walk with Israel
Pic: UJA

This year’s UJA Walk with Israel will definitely be like none other. With more than $200,000 raised in corporate sponsorship and approximately 15,000 walkers, this year’s walk is sure to be the biggest yet. For 2010, walkers will also have the opportunity to not only express their solidarity and support of Israel, but to be face to face with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who will be kicking off the 7 km walk by delivering a live address at the Ricoh Coliseum.


He is scheduled to arrive at 10 a.m., with security checks beginning at 8 a.m. Audio/video feeds will be provided in special rooms of the adjacent Direct Energy Centre, holding approximately 5,000 people, to allow walkers and their close family members to engage in the Prime Minister’s appearance.


Lianne Leboff, co-chair of the 42nd annual walk along with her husband Bruce, told Shalom Life that “having the Prime Minister of Israel with us, in person, for our annual Walk with Israel, reinforces our connection with Israel.”


Especially with recent controversies surrounding Israel, Leboff stresses the importance for Jews of the Diaspora to take an active approach and show their solidarity with Israel.


“Israel has been marginalized and demonized and alienated in the world community as Diaspora Jews its incumbent upon us to actively show our support for Israel…this is a solidarity walk as I see it,” she said.


Walkers will be marching in solidarity, beginning at the Direct Energy Centre and walking from Coronation Park along Lakeshore, up lower Simcoe blvd, down Bathurst and the Portland centre and ending at the Direct Energy Centre where the walk will host its Rio Can festival.


Not only will participants be showing their solidarity towards Israel but they will also be supporting the children of Bat Yam, a city just south of Tel Aviv. The city has been hit with high unemployment rates and poor living conditions. It is also home to children who are predominantly Ethiopian Jewish immigrants who look towards an education system that will allow for an easier integration into the Israeli community.  These children and youth will be benefitting from the close to $200,000 that will go towards the development of athletic programs, dance programs and other recreational programs that will aid in the integration of these immigrant youth with their neighbouring Israelis.


Although according to Leboff, Toronto has already has some involvement with Bat Yam, this is the first time UJA’s Walk with Israel campaign will be raising funds for this touching initiative.


This year, the organizers of the walk have made the green decision of allowing supporters of the walk to donate online, making for an easy, fast, paper-less option. Unlike previous years where walkers were given large printed packages of forms, donations will be made online and a tax-receipt is sent directly following the donation. Also, trash cans will be easily accessible, making supporting Israel not only paperless but trash-less too.


For their great efforts, walkers and sponsors will be treated at the Riocan festival with kosher BBQ courtesy of Gluskin Sheff as well as falafel  and will be entertained by a variety of carnival games, the Spin Master Play Zone, a petting zoo, the Teen Zone with Guitar Hero, The IBI Group Israeli Art Centre, manicures and much more.


But the party doesn’t stop there! There will also be an after-party off-site at the Berkeley for Jewish university students participating in the walk, featuring shuttle buses to take them from the Direct Energy Centre where the Riocan festival will take place, to the party.


This year’s event has been designed to accommodate all different age groups, different levels of physical capability with Bubbie and Zaidie friendly routes, and to allow all members of the family to enjoy what is going to be one of the most unforgettable Walk with Israel’s yet!

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