UJA Federation’s Walk with Israel was first held in May 1970, when it was called the UJA Walkathon. The first Walk was organized quickly with no advance publicity, yet it still raised $55,000. In the early years, funds raised in the Walk went into UJA’s Israel Special Fund. Since then, the money has supported particular projects in Israel that often involve children, since children are the main fundraisers in the event. The Walk with Israel has grown into the largest event in the Toronto Jewish community, with over 20,000 people participating as volunteers or walkers, and funds raised reaching as high as $400,000. The event has had several name changes since 1970: Walk for Israel (1978-1993); Community March for Israel (1994-1996); Israel Funwalk (1998-2002); and the current name, Walk with Israel.
The Walk with Israel is one of the programs mounted by the Annual Campaign department of UJA Federation. It is planned by a Cabinet Committee, with one or two laypeople as chairs, and numerous sub-committees. The main UJA staff undertaking the planning and execution is the Walk Coordinator. Each year, sub-committees are formed for recruitment, logistics, marketing and public relations, the Festival, food, entertainment, etc. The Walk also involves many outside entities: companies approached for prizes, donations or sponsorship; entertainment groups; the Toronto police force, which provides traffic control, marshalling and a parade permit; city government, for park use permits and outdoor signage; community groups mounting displays; costumed character rental companies; and manufacturers of the t-shirts, hats and buttons produced each year for Walk participants.
In addition to being a major fundraiser, the Walk fashioned itself initially as a fitness challenge to children and athletes, with a route as long as 31 kilometres in 1976. Over the years, this length has been reduced significantly, with the event evolving into a more manageable and family-oriented event. In the last decade, with periods of tension overseas, it has been framed as a demonstration of solidarity with Israel. Alongside the main event, alternative fundraisers such as a large Raffle, Dance-a-thon, Aerob-a-thon and Learn-a-thon for Eitz Chaim day schools, have been held in some years to encourage more people to contribute. Incentives for those who collect sponsors have grown over the years, from free t-shirts to a succession of prizes depending on the amount of funds raised. The grand prize draw for many years was two El Al airline tickets to Israel.
The location of the Walk has moved from the Bathurst Street 'corridor' of the Jewish community, to a downtown route that for some years went through the historic Jewish neighbourhood of Kensington Market and more recently, begins and ends at Coronation Park by the lakeshore and winds around the downtown streets. There is now also a kick-off party at the Walk’s starting point. Since 1984, the Walk has culminated in a big festival, featuring rides, petting zoos, a barbecue, musical entertainment, clowns and other attractions. This was usually held in a park or the BJCC parking lot. When the Walk route moved downtown, the Festival shifted to Ontario Place, and more recently, it has taken place on the CNE grounds by the lakeshore. Since 2007, the Festival has been sponsored by RioCan, and 'yogen fruz' became a major sponsor of the Walk in 2008. Other Walk sponsors have included Roots Canada (supplier of t-shirts), Shopper’s Drug Mart, Henry’s camera centre, Canada Trust, National Bank Financial Group, and the Canadian Zionist Federation.
Scope and Content
Sub-series contains records that document the planning and coordination of the Walk for Israel each year, as well as photographs and other records from the day itself and post-walk evaluation and wrap-up activities. The records include meeting notices, agendas and minutes, information sheets, lists, schedules, sitemaps, correspondence, school presentations, permits, press releases, design work, invoices, flyers, and photographs. Materials distibuted to participants include walker passports that had to be verified at each checkpoint, sponsor books, collection envelopes, tickets and other ephemera.
Most of the records have been arranged by year, broken down by function, in the following order: Walk oversight (the Walk Committee and chairs); recruitment of participants; volunteers; logistics such as route and police/security coverage; publicity and public relations, design of memorabilia (i.e. hats); sponsorship and prizes; financial management; the Walk event itself; the Festival; related fundraisers, particularly the Eitz Chaim Day Schools Learnathon; and post-event evaluation. The Festival records document the planning of food, entertainment, displays, amusements, and volunteers, and include photographs taken on the day of the event.
Sub-series 17-1 also includes individual files containing photographs from ranges of years. These were added to this series after the major portion of the "Walk" records had already been processed.
Physical description note: Includes ca. 4513 photographs (1948 negatives, 431 jpgs), 8 videocassettes, 4 optical discs (videos), 12 posters, 13 t-shirts, 4 buttons, 2 shoelaces, 1 jacket and several hats.
Reproduction restriction note: Though there is no textual evidence indicating ownership of copyright, it is believed that all rights to the Graphic Artists negatives in this sub-series were transferred to UJA Federation (Communications department), since they were the ultimate possessors of the negatives. Copyright for photographs by Stephen Epstein remains in his possession. Other UJA staff photographs by Eve Marks are the physical and intellectual property of UJA Federation.
Copyright may not be held by the Ontario Jewish Archives. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain permission prior to use.
Item is a blue and white painter's cap that reads "UJA Walk for Israel" along the front. There is a footprint printed on the top and the sponsors' logos are across the back. The sponsors are Paul Slavens Real Estate Limited, Coca-Cola, H. Halpern men's shirts and accessories, Shoppers Drug Mart, Henry's camera centre, and Beaver Canoe clothing company.
File contains contact sheets from 35 mm film featuring images of checkpoint staff at picnic tables; walkers at the starting line; groups with banners, and representatives, of Beth Tikvah Hebrew School and United Synagogue Day School; a bagpiper; "Mr. Peanut" character in costume; juice stop; speakers; "Happy Birthday Israel" cake; CB radio operators; and groups of young people. Identified in the photographs is Al Waxman signing autographs. There are also men, who may have been popular sports figures at the time signing autographs.
Photography by Action Photographics (Miles Spencer Nadal).
The 1974 Walk for Israel was "a family affair" that attracted 5,000 participants, including a busload of students from Kingston. It took place on Sunday, May 12. The route started at Lawrence and Bathurst, went downtown and then north again to the BJCC. Walk pledges were collected on a per-mile basis, with money being collected after the walk took place.
File consists of five images of a group of people with a costumed fox, presumably a mascot that year, and a Walk sign. The images were taken at 11 Goldfinch Court in the Finch and Bathurst area, which appears to be simply an apartment building complex.
The 1976 Walkathon was held on May 30. Funds raised went towards UJA's Israel Special Fund. This year's walk was the first in which community groups took charge of each of the checkpoints, beginning a long tradition of B'nai Brith's involvement in the Walk.
File contains images of three runners in motion in the parking lot outside The Fitness Institute. File also includes a green and white poster for the UJA Walkathon on May 30, 1976, featuring a stylized hand holding a Jewish star.
In 1977, the 8th annual UJA Walkathon was part of the UJA of Metropolitan Toronto's Maccabiah '77 games. The Maccabiah is a "Jewish Olympics" that offers Jewish athletes a premier opportunity to compete and, more generally, encourages the community to participate in a day of sports and activity. The games were first held in Toronto in 1970. For Maccabiah '77, the Walk took place alongside a fundraising run for UJA-B'nai Brith and a YM-YWHA Swimathon. One feature of this Walk were amateur radio stations set up at the checkpoints for walkers to send out messages. The route took participants from Baycrest Centre, downtown to the Bloor JCC, then north to Bathurst and Sheppard.
Item is a poster, white with green printing, of the United Jewish Appeal of Metropolitan Toronto Maccabiah '77, taking place Sunday, May 29. It lists three component events: 8th annual UJA Walkathon, UJA-B'nai B'rith Runathon, and YM-YWHA Swimathon. The slogan reads "Join the community-wide sport day for UJA." Poster also features a symbol of the event: a Star of David with a walker, runner and swimmer inside it.
In 1978, the Walkathon was renamed the Walk for Israel, a name that highlighted the event's connection to Israel. The Walk's theme was celebrating 30 years of Israel's statehood, emphasized with a 30 kilometre route. The Walk was chaired by David Bloom and was distinguished by the amount of competition it involved. Walkers could sign up in teams and compete to raise the most money and/or cover the greatest distance. Teams were registered from schools, brotherhoods, clubs, youth groups, and various professions. A number of professional athletes, from the Toronto Argos, Maple Leafs, and Blue Jays, were present at various checkpoints to greet walkers. About 9000 people turned out on the day of the Walk, which finished up with a gala birthday celebration at Earl Bales Park.
Item is a button for the Walk. It is blue and white with orange footprints going across it, and it says "United Jewish Appeal: Celebrate 30 Years with 30 kilometres. Walk for Israel, Sunday May 28, 1978."
File consists of photographs promoting the Walk: three images depict leaders of the six professional teams in a starting position with Walk for Israel posters. They are (back row): Paul Schreider, Harvey Shaul, Stan Salsberg. (Front row): Rick Rodney, Carl Goldenberg, Izzy Snyder.
Another pair of images is of three Toronto Jewish Congress staff, Hedy Nivoix, Kurt Kramer and Shoshana Kalmus, with a sign that says, "We are Walking for U.J.A. on May 28th!!" A seventh photograph depicts a group of people with Walkathon passports at a meeting table. They include Stan Rose, Steve Poolovey, Adi Kolber, Howard Stilberg, Gord Stromberg, David and Molly Bloom, and Elliot Novak.
Title based on contents of the file.
Photography by Graphic Artists Photographers.
One print has masking tape across the edge. In the other, part of the background has been painted out.
52 photographs : b&w and col. (21 negatives) : 10 x 15 cm or smaller
In 1979 the Walk with Israel had a second name: the Canada-Israel Friendship Walk. This name highlighted the year's focus on walking for Israel's children, although the official name was still used. The Walk featured sports and show business personalities signing autographs, and drew 12,000 participants. Continuing with the Bathurst corridor route, the Walk started at the BJCC, went south to St. Clair and back to Earl Bales Park.
The Walk this year also featured an Early Bird prize. First introduced in 1978, the Early Bird draw was an incentive for walkers to collect and return their pledges soon after the walk. Those who did so within two weeks of the Walk had their names entered in a draw to win one of a number of prizes donated by local businesses.
File consists of photographs from three different photography jobs shooting publicity images for the 1979 Walk for Israel. The photos include the UJA 30th anniversary Walkathon challenge, with a meeting of men in suits and the head of the Pharmacy team, Izzy Snider, being awarded a plaque by David Bloom for raising the most money; runners photographed in a field at 183 Gordon Road; and students at Beth Tikvah Synagogue, with Elliott Novak and Stuart Razin holding a poster and passport and wearing buttons. The poster reads, "United We Walk: The Canada-Israel Friendship Walk. Walk for an Israeli Child, Sunday May 27, 1979."
Also included is an envelope containing one of the passports and one of the buttons referred to above.
The 1980 Walk for Israel took place on Sunday, May 25. It was chaired by Verne Chelin and Jerry Panet, and the TJC staff coordinator was Mark Gryfe. New to the Walk this year was a "leadership mile" in which 25 prominent community leaders participated. These included Solicitor-General, Robert Kaplan; provincial minister of industry, trade and tourism, Larry Grossman; Toronto alderman, Art Eggleton; John Roberts; Toronto Jewish Congress president, Wilfred Posluns; Murray Koffler; and MIlton Harris. The 11 checkpoints along the 25 kilometre route were named after Israeli cities. 13,000 people turned out for the event.
Part of the Walk's promotion included a letter from Henry "The Fonz" Winkler to the students of Jewish schools in Toronto. The popular celebrity could not attend the Walk, but in his letter, he expressed encouragement for the students' fundraising efforts and wished them well.
File consists of publicity photographs for the Walk for Israel in 1980. Images include a group looking at a poster titled, "Walk for the Sport of Israel"; they are Pearl Teitelbaum, Isobel Berlin, Elliott Novak, Brian Katz, Adi Kilber, Vern Chelin and Jerry Ponet. Other photographs are of: Sid Chelsky and four unidentified individuals at a table; a portrait of Henry "The Fonz" Winkler; and a group of joggers warming up. The joggers are: Martin and Jeff Berger; their grandfather Stephen Berger; Toronto Jewish Congress president, Wilfred Posluns; Sam Filer, associate chairman of the CJC national executive; and his daughter, Marnie Filer.
File consists of photographs from the Walk for Israel in 1980. Images include Checkpoint #1, a crowd waiting to start at Earl Bales Park, and two smiling men wearing Walk hats and buttons. In the photograph of the checkpoint, the man in the centre, registering, is the 1980 UJA campaign chairman, Jerry Goldenberg.
The 1981 Walk for Israel took place on Sunday, May 3. Its theme was "Walk for the Youth of Israel," since monies raised went to build a sports complex for the children of Mazkeret Batya. Advertised highlights of the 1981 Walk included Al Waxman, a celebrity photo booth, the Blue Jays Bird, Mr. Peanut, and the Toronto Argos cheerleaders. The Walk ended with a celebration of the northern JCC's (BJCC's) twentieth anniversary. As an adjunct fundraiser, a 15-hour Danceathon, was held at the BJCC, where participants could dance from 11 pm to 2 pm the next day. The Danceathon was organized by Ruth Lootsteen and Jack Samuel.
File consists of photographs from two different photography jobs shooting publicity images for the 1981 Walk for Israel. They include a group holding a running shoe and a poster entitled, "Walk for the Youth of Israel," and a second group with a sign that says, "I'm walking. How about you?"
File consists of five black and white negatives of the Walk for Israel and the Dance-a-thon on May 3. There are two images of a group of walkers, one of people at a checkpoint table, and two of dancers. As well, the file contains photocopied photograph image of the registration table.
16 photographs (14 negatives) : 24 x 20 cm and 6 x 6 cm
In 1982, UJA's Walk for Israel took place on May 2nd and had a 25 kilometre route. It was chaired by Verne Chelin and Jerry Panet. The Walk celebrated its bar mitzvah year in 1982 with a celebration and carnival at the route's end at the BJCC. The cause for which funds were raised was the construction of a community centre in the town of Beit Dagar in Israel. Special appearances were made along the Walk route by Miss Toronto 1981, the Coca Cola robot, and a giant 'Smurf'. An adjunct fundraiser, the 15-hour Danceathon, was held for the second year.
7 photographs (6 negatives) : 24 x 20 cm and 6 x 6 cm
Scope and Content
File consists of photographs from two different photography jobs shooting publicity images for the 1982 Walk for Israel. They include a crowd of grade 7 students from Associated Hebrew Schools with Walk posters, and some members of the Big Brothers organization walking group lacing up their shoes. They are: Jack Samuel, Brian Demon and Gerry Levine, with Little Brothers Brian Spector and Louis Pisano.
File consists of three photographs of the Walk for Israel on 2 May 1982. Two are of a small crowd at an intersection accompanied by a clown and a banner that reads, "Toronto Freedom Lodge." One is of Paul Godfrey and his family signing up at the registration table. Four other images are of dancers at the UJA Dance-a-thon. File also includes a Walk button.
Photography by Graphic Artists Photographers.
Copyright is held by the Ontario Jewish Archives. Please contact the Archives to obtain permission prior to use.
7 photographs (6 negatives) : 24 x 20 cm and 6 x 6 cm
The 1983 Walk for Israel on Sunday, May 1st had a record turnout of 17,000 people. It was chaired by veteran Walk chairs Jerry Panet and Verne Chelin, and the cause was the construction of a community centre for Beit Dagon. Attractions along the 25 kilometre route included Big Bird, a Smurf, and Miss Canada. A draw was held for anyone who raised at least $50; the grand prize was two round trip tickets to Israel courtesy of El Al airlines. The Walk route began at the Bathurst and Sheppard plaza, and the day finished with a Lag B'Omer celebration in the parking lot of the BJCC. In these years, the Walk began around 7:30 in the morning, with volunteers arriving to set up as early as 4:30 am.
11 photographs (8 negatives) : 24 x 20 cm and 6 x 6 cm
The 1984 Walk for Israel took place on Sunday, June 3rd, beginning at the Bathurst and Sheppard plaza and ending at the Bathurst JCC. The route was a new one and was 20 kilometres long. As per the usual procedure, walkers handed in their money at the first checkpoint. The Walk chairs this year were Bobby Katz and Larry Shapiro. As in past years, B'nai Brith manned the checkpoints and acted as marshalls in overseeing traffic safety. The Walk this year had all the features that had become tradition: refreshments at the checkpoints, cartoon characters, appearances by public figures, and the grand prize of two El Al tickets to Israel.
File consists of images of three experienced participants in the Walk for Israel: Louis Goldman, Rachel Kanner and Nat Hurwich. Rachel Kanner is holding a large poster for the Walk for Israel, Sunday June 3, 1984.
File consists of six images of an Associated Hebrew School student with a Walk poster and certificate. Since the photographs were taken after the event, it is probable that the student was a prizewinner.
8 photographs : b&w and col. (5 negatives) ; 10 x 15 cm and 6 x 6 cm
1 folder of textul records
The 1985 Walk for Israel, held on Sunday, May 19th, was chaired by Bobby Katz and Larry Shapiro. "Celebrity" appearances along the 18 kilometre route included Toronto mayor Art Eggleton, Miss Canada, and Allison Hope of television's 20 Minute Workout. At the end of the Walk was the Yom Yerushalayim Festival in the parking lot of the BJCC. The festival included musical entertainment by the Stan Hiltz orchestra and the Spoons, karate demonstrations, and a replica of the Western Wall. For another year, El Al airlines donated two round trip tickets to Israel for a Grand Prize.
Item is a blue and white painter's cap that reads "UJA Walk for Israel '85: Official" across the front. A large footprint is printed on the top, and sponsors' logos around the back. The sponsors are Paul Slavens Real Estate Limited, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Toy Sales.