Why is this important?
Toronto’s Jewish community is internationally known for the strength it derives from its relationship with Israel. Meaningful relationships and enduring bonds between Israelis and the Diaspora through people to people connections are a key element of communal strategy. A flagship program of people to people contact is UJA Federation’s ShinShinim program which places these young emissaries for one year in 40 community institutions including day schools, supplementary schools, JCCs, camps, youth groups, Hillel and synagogues, across the political and religious spectrum in Toronto. The relationships developed through this program create lifelong friendships and connections to Israel for everyone touched by the ShinShinim. These firsthand experience leads to deeper connections, greater understanding and increased touch points between Toronto Jews and Israel and Israeli society.
What are the trends?
The number of UJA Federation ShinShinim emissaries serving in, and hosted by families in the Toronto community is on an upwards trend, with a 21% pt. increase on both metrics seen from 2014 – 2015. A 13% pt. increase in the number of institutions and organizations served by the ShinShinim emissaries from 2014 – 2015 has also occurred, likely partially due to the increase in the number of emissaries.
The ShinShinim program continues to grow and develop, meeting the needs of the community, by aligning closely with the strategic priorities of UJA. Specifically the program works to forge strong connections with Israel through people-to-people relationships, against a backdrop of real issues in Israel. The ShinShinim are finding ways to impact the community beyond those involved in our nearly 40 institutional partners. This year alone the ShinShinim are facilitating 10 impact projects- going in large groups to institutions to bring real Israel. Additionally 2017 will see the pilot of the Go Public initiative wherein 10 ShinShinim will be meeting bi-weekly for 8 sessions in the first Toronto public school, widening our reach. Through ShinShinim and the Israel Engagement Initiative we all work towards the strategic plan of “galvanizing the community whether in times of crisis or celebration”. The ShinShinim are uniquely positions to organize, participate and inspire our community in difficult and celebratory situations. The people-to-people work of our initiative help to position the Toronto community better advocate on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, as they have more intimate relationship with Israelis and understanding of the real Israel.
How are we doing?
The surge in the number of ShinShinim emissaries from 19 to 24 (the greatest amount of emissaries of any ShinShinim program globally), has been effective in increasing the number of linkages within the Jewish community in Toronto.