JP Online: Strengthening Jewish Identity

Jewish Partnership Online, hosted by Gil Troy

March 18, 2010 / 3 Nissan 5770

Before he became the public face of Jewish Partnership Online (JP Online), Gil Troy was admittedly something of a skeptic.

But a family visit to Israel soon changed that. Since the Troys lived in Montreal, his children asked to visit Maayanot, a school in Beer Sheva that was twinned through Partnership 2000 (P2K) with their Canadian Jewish Day School.

“The reception the kids received was just lovely,” said Troy, a Professor of History at McGill University and The author of Why I Am a Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today.

Very soon after he saw even more evidence that P2K – a platform connecting some 550 communities around the world in 45 partnerships – does, indeed, build living bridges.

This was in 2004, when Beer Sheva endured a double bus bombing.  Very soon after, a delegation from Montreal arrived to show support. The mutuality, the genuine partnership between the people of both cities, pushed Troy over the edge and straight into the realm of unabashed P2K advocate.

“When we sit back and talk about where the Jewish Agency should be going and where the Jewish people should be going, it is this kind of mutuality and this kind of vision that we need to be working on,” said Troy. “I think with P2K, they really got it!”

Established in 1994 by the Jewish Agency, United Jewish Communities, and Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, P2K has evolved over the past 15 from being a program that focuses on the needs of Israel to a program that focuses on the needs of the Jewish people, according to Andrea S. Arbel, director of the division of partnerships for the Jewish Agency.

“Today P2K strengthens Jewish identity and values on both sides of the ocean,” said Arbel.
And JP Online – four-minute videos posted on YouTube and the Jewish Agency website – is the perfect vehicle to showcase these values and the communities embodying them.

Troy, who is now based in Israel as a Shalom Hartman Research Fellow in Jerusalem, serves as the host for JP Online. Each segment begins with a Jewish value, such as “Jewish Peoplehood,” or “Loving the Land of Israel.” Then specific communities are featured.

“The thing about JP Online is we always emphasis the personal,” said Troy, such as the way Los Angeles and Tel Aviv work together through the arts and education.

Now in its third year, JP Online seeks to reflect back the work and goodwill done by the 300,000 people who are involved every year with P2K. And, as with everything in the age of YouTube, the possibility for exposure is limitless.

“My dream is that the excitement that this conversation generates will go beyond the P2K community so that people who are not already in on conversation will join us at the table,” said Troy.

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