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Sunday, October 4, 2015

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Montreal Jewish youth volunteering in Ethiopia

Tags: International
Gathered before leaving on their 12- day mission to Ethiopia are, front row from left, Montreal mission participants Laurent Elkrief, Cedric Kessous and Allie Novack, with, back row, federation staff member Elysa Ben Sabat and mission participants Talia Bensoussan, Elya Chalom and Karine Arzoine. Missing are Tamar Medalssy and Jordana Bernstein.

MONTREAL — Twenty young Jewish people from Montreal and Israel are currently in Ethiopia on a joint humanitarian mission.

In the spirit of the Jewish value of tikkun olam (repairing the world), Federation CJA partnered with the Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel to offer the 12-day service program in Ethiopia, which continues until Jan. 13.

The program brings together Jewish youths aged 18 to 25 from Montreal and the Montreal Jewish community’s partner city in the Negev, Be’er Sheva/Bnei Shimon.

The participants are volunteering to work on educational and health projects that will serve the local population, and at the same time, they are gaining an understanding of humanitarian challenges worldwide and learning through hands-on experience that Jews are obligated to work on behalf of all humanity. The young people are helping construct a schoolhouse, distribute vitamins and de-worming medication to children, and lead sports, art and learning activities in schools.

“This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Ethiopia with other Montreal and Be’er Sheva/Bnei Shimon students will expose me to a new culture and way of life,” said Montreal participant Talia Bensoussan before her departure.

“Learning about Ethiopian Jewish traditions and struggles will enrich my understanding of the diversity of the Jewish people and the richness of our heritage. Taking an active hands-on role in the work we will be doing in Ethiopia and seeing… how my efforts will benefit others [should] be rewarding, educational and empowering.”

The young people are also learning about Ethiopia’s history, development needs and programs that address humanitarian issues, and taking part in cultural exchanges with professionals and their peers.

Israeli participant Rosa Vota said she sees this trip as a unique opportunity for learning through personal experience about what is happening in Ethiopia, a Third-World country, a different way of life, the way people deal with problems, survival and the children who are born into this reality.

“I will have personal contact with residents as opposed to learning from the media, and see and not just hear about Ethiopia.”

The participants’ daily blogs and photos are being posted at federationcja.org/Ethiopia.

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