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Acceptance Speech

YAKIR TELFED

Acceptance Speech of Sid Shapiro

6.9.2017

Erev Tov,

For me standing here on this stage as an award recipient, is a most strange and yet humbling experience. For the past 50 years on similar occasions it was usually me, together with others, who was bestowing awards and accolades on other awardees.  Yet, here I am! So it must be true.

At the outset I want to extend my sincerest appreciation to all of you at Telfed for this most prestigious award which, I must admit, came as a total surprise. That phone call from Maish in Japan, conveying the news of the Yakir Telfed Award, sent an adrenalin spurt straight through me. I assume that is how one feels when one gets a call from Ariella at Mifal Hapayis!

This award is especially meaningful to me because it comes from an organization that has been a major element in my life and one of which I am so proud to be a part.  Furthermore, it bestows on me a very unique honor in that I now share this prestige with the 5 previous awardees for whom I have always had the utmost respect.  Hertzel, Annette with your permission, tonight  I wish to remember the first Yakir Telfed recipient, Eliot Osrin, of blessed memory, the outstanding champion of Telfed and a dear friend and mentor of mine who passed away recently.

Now, on reflection, that in day in February 1970 when Leib Frank called me offering me a job at Telfed I didn’t realise that that was to be the opening of an avenue for me to fulfil my life’s aspirations which were planted at the age of 8 when I joined the Zionist Youth Movement. These aspirations grew, as I did, into adulthood and from that early age my life revolved around the Jewish People, the Jewish Religion and the State of Israel. Of course, this was enriched by my parents and home life, particularly by my mother who always dreamt of making Aliyah to Israel – which was not to be.

You have seen on the screen some of my endeavors: As the A Team says, “I like it when a plan comes together”. There were many such plans. For instance, after working on a project for the establishment of a new Yishuv for over 6 years, it is amazing to attend the corner stone laying ceremony.  What a warm feeling it is to receive a phone call of thanks from an oleh for helping resolve a personal problem.  And It is a once in a life time experience to be at the airport at 2:00 a.m. to receive the first 18 families from the FSU whose Aliyah Telfed facilitated. 

Friends, I can tell you that every time I visit 19 Schwartz Street, or Amishav 27 & 31, standing in the shadow of our 104 rental housing apartments which, together with people such as Jose Shlain and others, we managed to bring to fruition, - that is a real WOW.  Telfed is still the only Olim Organization providing such a facility.

And today to see how my babies, PRAS & SASI, are growing in leaps and bounds – that’s a great prize to receive!

Yes, those were 43 years jam packed with challenges, excitement, difficulties, achievements and even some disappointments, but they were filled to the brim with gratification and contentment.  This was not only a personal fulfilment. I was privileged to help shape the solid and sustainable organization together with many professional colleagues, including my predecessors Sam Levin, Leib Frank and Itz Stein, wise consultants and remarkable voluntary leadership over the years. I believe we have provided a firm foundation upon which future generations can continue to build.

To the many chairman (there were 10 of them!) I had the privilege of working with; the committees, the wonderful staff (104 colleagues at last count), I say thank you for all the support and encouragement.  To our new chairman Batya together with your Directorate and Exco; to Dorron, Nava and co- workers thank you all for this honor and for this memorable ceremony.

To my wife Michele, who never objected to the very long working hours – and there were many of them, always giving me strong moral support, this is much appreciated and not taken for granted.

To our kids and grandkids who have joined me tonight this has made this occasion even more special.

And finally to all my friends and relatives who have come from far and near and who have often taken an interest in all I did – Toda Raba.

Some-one once said “Recognition from one’s peers is the only real recognition”.

I can vouch for it. It truly is! 

- Sidney

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