Heart to Heart was founded in 2011 as a partnership between the Givat Haviva in Israel and Hashomer Hatzair/Camp Shomria in Canada. Givat Haviva is an Israeli non-profit organization dedicated to promoting mutual responsibility, civic equality and cooperation among divided groups in Israel. Since 1949, Givat Haviva has run educational programs based on these principles in order to build the foundation for a shared future and shared society. The organization ensures parity between Palestinian and Jewish Israeli leadership and was awarded the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education in 2001.
Hashomer Hatzair is a Jewish Youth Movement that was founded in 1913 and has been operating in Canada since 1923. The movement runs year-round educational activities based in Toronto, as well as an overnight summer camp (Camp Shomria) located just outside of Perth, Ontario. Hashomer Hatzair Canada works with youth to build progressive Jewish values, links to Israel, community, and a commitment to social, environmental and economic justice in a setting based on youth leadership and responsibility. Hashomer Hatzair Canada views Heart to Heart as a central way to translate these values into action.
Who makes Heart to Heart happen on a daily basis?
A dedicated and passionate community in Toronto has formed around Heart to Heart since its launch in 2011. Day to day operations are managed by our dedicated staff who are based in Toronto.
Heart to Heart is governed primarily by a volunteer leadership committee. The committee is a standing committee of the Board of Hashomer Hatzair - Camp Shomria and is comprised of members of the GTA's Jewish, Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities. The committee meets monthly throughout the year, with members working as individuals or as part of task forces as needed. Heart to Heart also has an Advisory committee comprised of prominent members of the GTA's Jewish, Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities who bring their many years of experience working in the field of shared society, dialogue, and intercultural work to the table. The Advisory committee meets twice annually.
How is the program funded?
Givat Haviva and Hashomer Hatzair/Camp Shomria contribute in-kind donations, primarily in the form of human resources and programming spaces. However, Heart to Heart depends primarily on private donations from Toronto’s Palestinian, Arab, Muslim and Jewish communities, as well as from many other diverse donors. Heart to Heart has received support from Family Foundations and was the recipient of a three-year grant from the Narayever Congregation's Social Justice Committee. Heart to Heart does not receive any funding from the Canadian or Israeli governments.
Heart to Heart participants are responsible for the cost of their flights to Canada. All other costs, including a limited number of flight scholarships, are covered through fundraising efforts. In the future, we hope to be able to provide more flight scholarships to reduce the financial barriers to participation in the program. You can view our donor list and/or contribute at our Donate Page.
Camp Shomria is a culturally Jewish summer camp. How does this affect the program?
Being hosted at a summer camp that is culturally Jewish does impact the Heart to Heart program. There are elements of Camp Shomria that inevitably make the Jewish Israeli participants feel more at home and comfortable than the participants who are Palestinian citizens of Israel. However, as a program we acknowledge this bias and are constantly addressing it.
The cultural implications of being hosted at a Jewish summer camp have consequently created powerful opportunities for group dialogue. It also creates a space where the group can explore how they can take action collectively and in solidarity with their peers. This is exemplified when Ramadan fell during the program, as Jewish participants often decided to fast alongside their Muslim peers. These type of conversations have spurred further joint action to influence Israeli society such as the letter our 2015 cohort wrote to the Minister of Education, and the statement our 2018 cohort wrote in response to the passing of the Nation State Law.
While the group is hosted by the camp, it has autonomy within it. Heart to Heart provides it’s own programming and we are constantly working to create an equitable space, where everyone feels comfortable and welcomed. The Camp Shomria staff and campers also work hard to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all Heart to Heart participants. It is of great benefit to Heart to Heart participants to be able to participate in this unique and energetic community, outside of their own programming. Heart to Heart also provides an amazing educational opportunity for Camp Shomria’s Jewish Canadian campers to learn about life in Israel from different perspectives.