As Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper embarked on his first official visit to Israel and the Middle East, he was joined by Chabad representatives from five Canadian provinces.

“We are deeply honored that the prime minister invited us to accompany him on this historic visit,” says Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn, the Ottawa-based director of public affairs for the Canadian Federation of Chabad-Lubavitch. “Since taking office in 2006, Mr. Harper has earned a reputation as a loyal friend of the Jewish people and a staunch supporter of Israel.”

“I look forward to visiting the Middle East to explore ways of strengthening peace and security, stimulating sustainable economic growth, and promoting essential Canadian values, such as tolerance and human rights, across the region,” said the Prime Minister.

The Chabad-Lubavitch contingent is part of the 150-to-200-member delegation from across the Canadian Jewish community that has been invited to join Harper on his four-day tour.

In addition to Mendelsohn, the Chabad rabbinic delegation includes Rabbi Zalman A. Grossbaum, Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, Rabbi Yoseph Y. Zaltzman and Rabbi Mendel Zaltzman from Toronto, Ontario; Rabbi Berel Mockin and Rabbi Yitzchok Gniwisch from Montreal, Quebec; Rabbi Yitzchok Wineberg from Vancouver, British Columbia; Rabbi Shmuel Altein from Winnipeg, Manitoba; Rabbi Menachem M. Matusof from Calgary, Alberta; and Rabbi Mendel Feldman from Halifax, Nova Scotia.