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President Reuven Rivlin welcomes Telfed

Telfed Volunteers and Staff meeting with President Rivlin, Jerusalem - photo credit: Brian Spector

JERUSALEM – in celebration of 70 years of service to the olim community, representatives from Telfed - South African Zionist Federation (Israel), were honoured to meet with President Reuven Rivlin at the President's Residence on 7 August 2018. President Rivlin welcomed Telfed and reiterated that, in spite of the challenges, Israel is both a democratic state and a Jewish state. The President acknowledged the vital role that world Jewry plays and spoke of the shared goal between those in Israel and diaspora communities. The President quipped that as a Jerusalemite he never had the opportunity to make Aliyah.

Telfed celebrates its 70th birthday marking seven decades of assisting the olim community. However, the contribution of Southern African olim preceded the establishment of the State of Israel. President Rivlin spoke of influential South African olim prior to 1948 and the impressive contributions that members of the ex-South African community have made over the years.

Telfed Chairman, Batya Shmukler, spoke of the significance of Telfed as the first organisation for olim to be set up during the War of Independence. Established in 1948 to support 804 machalniks who volunteered in the War of Independence, Telfed continues to support olim to build a home in Israel, so that, in time, Israel will be strengthened through the unique contributions of these olim.

CEO Dorron Kline explained the evolution of Telfed over the past 70 years and how it meets the changing needs of the olim community. Telfed currently assists approximately 500 new olim who arrive from Southern Africa and Australia each year. In addition to absorption (klita) services and pre- and post-Aliyah support, both financial and emotional assistance are provided to over 400 needy olim each month, 400 scholarships are allocated annually, support is provided to lone soldiers, 105 apartments are rented to olim (at 30% below market value), employment counselling is offered and a sense of community is instilled through over 70 events each year around Israel. Telfed relies on the generosity of its donors to provide these services to the community. Past Telfed Chairman, Hertzel Katz and Youth Committee member, Shiri Berzak spoke of Telfed's history and future, respectively. For new olim, having a network of people who understand the challenges they face is invaluable.

In his concluding remarks, President Rivlin noted that the South African community has always been highly regarded, having actively participated in the building of Israel. He praised those in attendance for having made Aliyah, emphasizing that they are the real Zionists.  



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