On behalf of the Executive and the staff of the Zionist Federation of Australia, I would like to wish our partners and friends at Telfed, and the entire community of Olim in Israel, a שנה טובה ומתוקה, a sweet, happy and healthy New Year.
2020 most certainly has been a year like no other; one that has been unprecedented in its scale and impact on public health, on commercial life and almost every aspect of society. The impacts of the global pandemic have been felt strongly by Australians and Israelis alike. For new or intending Australian olim, it has thrown curve balls into their plans to leave Australia and settle in Israel.
Whilst the ZFA quickly and deftly moved to online programming, there is one major element of our work that cannot be replicated online: travelling to Israel, whether it is for a short or long-term program such as Birthright or Masa, or, of course, Aliyah.
I was not surprised to learn that numbers of people interested in making Aliyah had grown significantly around the world, including those in Australia. Aliyah remains a top priority for both the Jewish Agency for Israel and the ZFA. Despite border closures, limited flight availability and local lockdowns, we continue to provide support and encouragement for olim as they prepare and Telfed continues to provide the soft landing in Israel, even more necessary in these uncertain times.
We look forward to continued collaboration, to building on our strengths together, and to ensuring the continued success of Australian Olim in Israel.
Each year during the period of Rosh Hashana, we say “next year in Jerusalem”. That sentiment resonates all the more strongly in times like these when countries are closed and long distance travel is restricted. Most of us would be impressed by the recent peace agreement between Israel and the UAE and historic El Al Flight LY971 from Ben Gurion Airport to Abu Dhabi. I hope that that this occasion will inspire further steps forward in the direction of peace and that next year the skies of the world will be open for us not just to return to Jerusalem but to an Israel at peace with itself and all of its neighbours.
In the meantime, I wish you all a safe, happy and of course, healthy New Year.