Some 20,00 people marched through Toronto on Sunday in an annual show of support for Israel that also raised over one million dollars for education and projects in the Jewish state.
The Greater Toronto’s 46th annual Walk with Israel event attracted even more participants than last year’s 17,000, the Canadian Jewish News reported.
Among the dignitaries who took part were Israel’s Consul General to Canada DJ Schneeweiss, Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, provincial Tory Leader Patrick Brown, Toronto councilor James Pasternak and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Bennett read out a statement prepared by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Canada has been a friend of Israel for almost seven decades, through triumph and tragedy,” Trudeau said. “We will continue to stand with Israel, one of our closest friends and partners, thanks to our shared values and the presence of a dynamic and thriving Jewish Canadian community.”
Veteran participant 90-year-old Samuel Hershenhorn, who has walked every year since the inaugural event in 1970, was also there. Three hundred athletes also took part in a second annual run held alongside the walk.
The event raised around $1.1 million for charity projects in Israel. Some $460,000 came from corporate sponsorship earmarked for an educational program for at-risk youth in Bat Yam, social welfare and educational projects in Sderot, academic programs for residents of Israel’s south, as well as other educational and opportunity projects.
Wynne, who was recently in Israel for a week, told the crowd she had generated $87 million in business and trade deals for Ontario in the fields of high-tech, education and medicine.
“The possibilities of our two jurisdictions – Ontario and Israel – working together for our mutual benefit are huge. I was so gratified at the way we were welcomed in Israel and the opportunities we saw,” she said.
Toronto police chief Mark Saunders also addressed the gathering.
According to the report, as in a previous years, a small group from the Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish anti-Zionist group, held a small counter-protest with placards and a Palestinian flag.