Meet three Canadian teenagers choosing to stay in Israel during the war

A few Canadian teenagers who decided to stay in Israel after war broke out with Hamas on Oct 7, 2023. From left: Joey Lipetz, making tallitot and tzitzit for soliders in his Israeli yeshiva; Leora Prutschi, helping displaced Israeli children at a refugee camp; and Maya Winkler, who is babysitting IDF soldiers' kids. (Supplied photos)

Maya Winkler, 19, was supposed to be taking classes at Reichman University in Herzliya this year—but is instead spending her days collecting supplies for Israeli soldiers and babysitting their kids.

Leora Prutschi, 18, was supposed to be on a reverse Shinshinim project—a year of service for Diaspora teens in Israel—but is instead commuting from Eilat to Timna, 30 km north, to teach English to displaced Israeli kids whose homes were destroyed.

Meanwhile, Joey Lipetz, 18, studies at a yeshiva in Mevaseret Zion, near Jerusalem, where he also assembles piles of ritual green prayer shawls for soldiers and recites psalms for them.

These three teenagers are among an untold number of young Canadian Jewish students who went to Israel for a gap-year program, or to do a year of university studies, only to find their plans dramatically upended by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and subsequent war. And while many in their cohort have returned to Canada, these three have chosen to remain in Israel, despite pressure from their families.

Winkler, Lipetz and Prutschi spoke to The CJN Daily host Ellin Bessner about why they feel safer staying to help Israel, even as they face rocket attacks in a country traumatized by the barbaric murders of 1,500 Israelis and foreign tourists near the Gaza Strip a month ago.

What we talked about

  • Learn more about Maya Winkler and her brother Zachary’s famous fundraising charity events for SickKids in The CJN archives (2018 and 2014)
  • Hear the hostages’ families plead with Canada to do more to help free their loved ones held by Hamas in Gaza, on The CJN Daily
  • Meet the social worker who helps bereaved Israeli families identify the remains of their loved ones murdered by Hamas, on The CJN Daily


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer.Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here.