Dragon Boat: a New Way to Experience Israel

Debbie Halton Weiss and members of the Dragon Boat Israel committee are living proof that all it takes to transform what might seem to be an impossible vision idea into a groundbreaking event is conviction, collaboration and hard work. Dragon Boat Israel on the Lake Kinneret will likely bring more Canadians to Israel at one time than we have seen in many years. It is the first-ever Dragon Boat race to take place in Israel and if the expected success is any indication Dragon Boat Israel will be a repeat event for years to come. The festival is also a fundraising initiative that will benefit two Federation-supported programs in northern Israel.

Since team and paddler registration opened in July 2011, the racing event has sold out. A total of 39 teams are registered, including Canadian and Israeli Breast Cancer Survivor teams. The surrounding 2-day festival is open to the public and promises to have something for everyone. Spectators will gather to cheer on paddlers and enjoy the celebratory atmosphere with live music, local art exhibitors, Israeli food, wine and more.

“It’s the kind of event that really brings people together,” Victor Yagoda, Dragon Boat Israel project manager and Director of Projects and Infrastructures at UIA Federations Canada said. “If there’s something that I’ve learned, it’s that dragon boating is about mispacha [family].”

Separate from sponsor funds, dollars raised from paddlers will benefit charities that Dragon Boat
Israel has selected to be the recipients of the festival, focused on programs for Children at Risk in Israel. The selected charities are:

• Youth Futures, which currently serves nearly 7,000 disadvantaged youth in 32 localities, primarily in the Negev and Galilee by providing them with mentors. These ‘Trustees’ build a strong relationship with the children and their families by coordinating with parents, teachers, school counselors and social workers to empower youth by providing them an equal opportunity to develop their academy and social skills.

• Net@ which effects change in young people living in the geographical and social periphery of Israel, by making them members of a dream team of the Israeli hi-tech world. Net@ combines advanced technology training with the encouragement of social values.