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By MYRON LOVE
“These are tough times for Israel,” says Dick Rothberg. “As Jews, we need to stand together. I want to encourage as many people as possible to visit Israel.”


Rothberg himself, along with his wife, Joanne, will be going back to Israel May 12-20 as Winnipeg leaders with a new Jewish National Fund (JNF) World Solidarity Mission to Israel. “We are expecting significant representation from the 47 participating countries,” Rothberg reports.
“One of our stops is scheduled to be the official home of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. I have been to the residence a couple of times before. ”
Among other highlights of the tour will be a social gathering and concert at an air force base and a massive rally of support at the Be’er Sheva River Park with residents of Be’er Sheva and residents of the Israeli communities bordering Gaza.
Rothberg’s own ties with Israel go far back. His grandparents (Harry and Ethel Lyons) and four of their children made aliyah in 1936. “My mother was already married to my father so she stayed in Melfort (Saskatchewan),” he says. “In the late 40s and 50s, my mother travelled frequently to Israel to visit her siblings and aging parents.”
Rothberg’s introduction to JNF involvement came about in the early 1970s following friendships that had developed with former JNF/KKL emissaries Lt. Col. Kuti Honigman and Avrum Kahlman and later on with Zev Kedem among others. There was an immediate desire to travel to Israel in February of 1974 following the Yom Kippur War. In addition, Rothberg’s father-in-law, Sam Galpern, the father of his first wife, Sondra (who passed away in 1985), was a long-time leader in the local Jewish community and was the JNF dinner honouree in 1977. Joe Sector, Isser Portnoy and Bill Goldberg also played a significant role in Rothberg’s decision to engage with the JNF and its tremendous work on behalf of the State of Israel.
Rothberg has been to Israel many times over the years – and he and Joanne have previously helped to lead, market, promote and recruit travellers on many occasions.
“We are really excited about this solidarity mission,” he says. “It looks to be a terrific itinerary.”
The departure will be from Toronto on May 12. The first few days will be focused on Jerusalem with visits to the Cardo and the restored Hurba Synagogue in the Jewish quarter. There will be visits to the Machane Yehuda Market, Yad Vashem and a walking tour of the Old City, side trips to a winery, a special army unit and the air force base for the aforementioned party with presentations by Israeli government officials. A highlight will be a rally on Jerusalem Day at Ammunition Hill with addresses by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and President Rivlin.
On Monday, May 18, mission participants will be transported to Be’er Sheva for the day, returning to Jerusalem later that evening.
The last day of the trip – May 19 – will be packed with activities, including a visit to Ayalon Canada Park, a stop at the I-24 Israeli News Station in Jaffa, a special culinary guided tour and food tasting in the Jaffa Market Shuk as well as the official visit to the President’s residence in Jerusalem.
The cost to participate in the world solidarity mission is $3,330 (US). This price includes airfare, meals, local transportation and lodging at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem. Interested readers may contact the JNF office at 204-947-0207 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a complete trip itinerary.

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