Chinese Dragon Boat Festival Paddles into Israel
The third annual Dragon Boat Israel festival took place along the Sea of Galilee in Israel last week. The two-day festival, which originated more than 2,000 years ago in China and is now practiced in more than 70 countries around the world, brought together 700 competitors of all ages, ethnicities, fitness levels and abilities. The Chinese Ambassador to Israel, Zhang Yongxin, performed a traditional rice ceremony blessing, kicking off the 300-meter race. Among the participating paddlers was a mixed national team of Chinese and Israeli nationals, as well as teams from charitable organizations such as the One Family Fund and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Israel. This festival is the result of a joint Israeli-Canadian initiative formed in 2012, and in recognition of its roots, all funds from this year's event went to Hebrew University's Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, a biomedical research organization established between the two nations in 2008. As this video reveals, Dragon Boating is a unique hybrid of Chinese sports- and cultural-diplomacy, as well as a celebration of teamwork, harmony and cross-cultural cooperation and understanding.