TORONTO — UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s Walk With Israel raised more than $500,000 and included more than 15,000 participants, organizers said.
Jaimie Schnier, Tessa Etlain-Silver, Michael Zagdanski at the RioCan Carnival.
The 71/2-kilometre walk led from Coronation Park on the waterfront north through downtown and back to the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place. The RioCan Carnival, with amusement park rides, a petting zoo and crafts, capped off the Sunday event.
Proceeds from the 2008 walk will go to programs for children and youth in Israel, with a specific focus on those in Sderot and the western Negev. They include trauma services, a program to reinforce roofs on some public buildings, and educational or social welfare services for youth at risk.
Joe Shedlitsky, 88, who has seen Israel go from humble beginnings to modern successes, said he was proud to have played a part. He fought alongside Ariel Sharon as infantry in Falluja, near Gaza, in 1948 during Israel’s War of Independence. He has been living in Canada since 1952.
“My emotions could not be higher today. Every day we should be happy to have come this far with the Jewish people in Canada and in Israel,” he said, adding that he has participated in every local walk since the first one 38 years ago.
Walker Carl Thorpe, a Christian man originally from Jamaica, said his support for Israel has strong roots in his family of nine siblings.
“Much of the component of my support is through my faith,” Thorpe said. “It’s impossible to be Christian and not support the Jewish state.”
At right, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion talks with particpants during the walk. At left, Thornhill MPP Peter Shurman, and Joe Oliver. Below, March of the Living staff and kids from this year’s trip. [All photos, taken by Dave Gordon]