03 Mar Keeping Fit and “Hiking” the Israel National Trail
Keeping Fit and “Hiking” the Israel National Trail
A new program created by Toronto’s Jewish Agency Shlichim gets participants moving, learning about Israel and raising money for Covid relief efforts.
Ariel and Lee are a husband-wife duo serving as Jewish Agency Shlichim (Israeli emissaries) in Toronto, Canada, working at The Anne & Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (also known as TanenbaumCHAT). With the coronavirus impacting their community, they initiated a new program to bring families together to learn about Israel and be active.
“Since COVID-19, we’ve been doing yoga and going on more hikes. We wanted to help families move and engage in fitness activities so we started brainstorming ideas,” explained Ariel.
“The school’s athletic teams couldn’t participate in their typical tournaments because of the pandemic,” Lee added. “So we decided to team up with the Athletic Department and that’s how we created the Tigers Trekking Israel program. TanenbaumCHAT’s mascot is the tiger.”
Tigers Trekking Israel combines physical activity and Israel educational content by having participants virtually explore the Israel National Trail. Consisting of 1200 kilometers, the trail zigzags its way from the north of Israel to the south, encompassing archeological landmarks, deserts, rivers and both historic and modern cities. More than 300 participants from Toronto (as well as Israel) have signed up and are now “trekking,” using My Virtual Mission, a goal-setting app that allows users to set up long-distance “missions” on a map and work towards completing the challenge with physical exercise.
“Tigers Trekking has been a great experience. As an Israeli, it is bringing me back to childhood trips around the country that I used to take with my family,” shared Shirley, a staff member at the school. “And it is keeping me in shape during these difficult times.”
Participants have the opportunity to unlock achievements as well as one-of-a-kind informational content along the way by walking or running and tracking their progress in the app. They can also win fabulous prizes in the process while supporting the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto COVID-19 relief efforts. Over $3,500 has been raised since the program kicked off at the end of January. Monthly prizes include TanenbaumCHAT apparel, professional jerseys, kosher food from local businesses, makeup kits, face masks and more, with the grand prize awarded in May being two roundtrip tickets to Israel.
“Our family has been loving the Tigers Trekking Israel adventure. The program motivated us to exercise more and get outside and we really enjoyed learning all the facts about different places in Israel,” said a TanenbaumCHAT parent.
“What a great idea and tremendous effort Lee and Ariel have put into Tigers Trekking Israel. We have been having fun as a family tracking our progress on the street and map views and letting our Israeli cousins know when we are ‘nearby,’” said another TanenbaumCHAT parent. “I cannot imagine the huge number of hours that it took to make this idea a reality. It’s a truly wonderful way to motivate our students to get up and move, especially during Covid. And combining it with Israel Engagement makes it extra meaningful.”