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Chairman Batya Shmukler's Speech at the Knesset (March 2018)

I really am thrilled to be here as chairman of Telfed and to welcome all of you to this special event. I’d like to extend a special welcome to all our past chairmen of Telfed, members of the executive and the directorate, our wonderful staff members, representatives of the various trust funds, volunteers, and of course, to you, the students.

As you may know Telfed is celebrating our 70th anniversary of activity in Israel, and how wonderful it is to be here in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, as Israel celebrates its 70th year of independence.  

We are also going to be celebrating Pesach soon, where Jews around the world celebrate the Festival of Freedom. Here we recount the biblical story of our struggle from slavery to freedom, and our ultimate journey to independence as a Jewish people in a Jewish homeland. In a similar way I see Telfed as part of our modern day story to live freely and independently in our Jewish state.

We have come a far way from helping those 804 brave Southern African Machal soldiers who came to volunteer in the War of Independence in 1948. Over the past 70 years Telfed has evolved and adapted to the various needs of the Southern African community in Israel and today, we take great pride in being one of the most productive and active Aliyah support organizations in Israel.

Telfed takes great pride in helping with the klita of olim from Southern Africa as well as Australia and Holland. Settling into life in Israel can be challenging and so we provide support in a number of areas.

Telfed provides subsidized rental of 105 apartments to olim of Southern African descent in 3 different apartment buildings. Our very first hostel building was built in 1951, followed by two additional buildings in Tel Aviv and Ra’anana. These buildings allow us to provide housing assistance to new Olim, but more importantly, the rental income from these buildings enables us mainly to provide financial assistance to 400 individuals every month to try and help them live with dignity here in Israel.

One of the ways to ensure a successful aliya is to help people find gainful employment in order to help them settle down and integrate smoothly and we now have an employment counselling service as well as a mentorship program for olim seeking employment. We try to match up new olim with professionals in their field to help with their successful integration into the job market.

We have expanded our activities and focus from being a solely aliyah based organization to being a community based one as well.  We recognise that as times change, so to do the needs of the community and we try to facilitate this in various ways.

We provide assistance and support to lone soldiers, and together with organisations such as The Michael Levin Centre and Garin Tzabar.  We try to be there for these soldiers while they are so far away from their families during their army service and after they are released.

We have a wide variety of community events in cities throughout Israel, organized tiyulim, lectures of interest, picnics, bingo evenings and other social events to encourage people to meet up and network. On average, we have 90 events a year countrywide, with over 4500 participants.

Another great programme is called TECI- Telfed Ethiopian Community Initiative. Within this programme, we run a program to teach people in the Ethiopian community English.

While our primary focus in obviously on the South African Jewish community in Israel, we continue to maintain strong ties with the local Jewish leadership in SA and the community as a whole. We are active participants in the Aliyah fairs every year and send hundreds of Telfed magazines to the Shuls and community centers in SA, in order to encourage Aliyah and showcase the tremendous achievements of Israel and the South African community living here.

There is an old African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go together”. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our wonderful staff and incredible volunteers for work they do. Telfed is actually a volunteer based organisation run by a modest staff and volunteers such as myself. We have about 300 people who volunteer around the country, organising all of our regional events and activities and we could not do what we do without them.

Now onto the most important topic for this afternoon - you the students who are part of this year’s Telfed scholarship programs. Nelson Mandela said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and we are incredibly proud that we are able to support so many students every year with their academic studies. We are so grateful to our generous donors and trust funds that enable us to give out over 400 scholarships every year.

I would like to make special mention of some amazing, dedicated people who were instrumental in putting this impressive event together:

To Dorron Kline, CEO of Telfed, who was the brainchild of the scholarship gathering and who encouraged us to have this gathering under the auspices of the Knesset Aliyah, Klita and Diaspora Committee in such a prestigious venue. To Dana Levy Tavor, head of the scholarship department at Telfed, Simone Pikas from the scholarship department and to Shely Cohen, chairman of the endowments and scholarship committee along with all of the fantastic, dedicated volunteers on the Endowments, Scholarships and Pras committee. None of this would be possible without your constant hard work and dedication - thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.

The Knesset took its name and membership from the Knesset Hagedolah (Great Assembly), convened in Jerusalem by Ezra and Nehemiah in the 5th century BCE. It is within these great walls that the destiny of the Jewish State is decided. Policies are voted on that will determine our future; today, within these same walls, my hope is that our Telfed scholarship recipients will, through their knowledge and leadership, also help to determine our country’s future...

Thank you          

 

שלום לכולם.

איזו התרגשות להיות פה היום בכנסת כחלק מחגיגות ה-70 לארגון תלפד- הפדרציה הציונית דרום אפריקה ישראל - וכמובן גם למדינת ישראל.

לפני הכל אני רוצה להודות מכל הלב לחבר הכנסת ד"ר אברהם נגוסה, יושב ראש הוועדה לעלייה קליטה והתפוצות, וגברת דנה גורדון  - מנהלת הועדה שמארחים אותנו היום. ברוכים הבאים ל…

אנחנו שמחים לארח היום גם את נציגי רשות התאגידים- רשם ההקדשות, שעוזרים לנו רבות ברישום ההקדשות. בזכות אותן הקדשות וקרנות אנו יכולים להעניק מידי שנה את המלגות לכם הסטודנטים.

אנו מעריכים מאוד את העבודה של רשם ההקדשות, ורוצים להודות לכם על שיתוף הפעולה לאורך השנים.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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