In May 1948, soon after the declaration of Independence of the State of Israel, the Egyptian army advanced and reached the Ad Halom bridge on the outskirts of Ashdod. They aimed to cross the bridge and capture the city of Tel Aviv. If this had happened, Israel would have lost the War of Independence. The newly formed Givati brigade held the Egyptians at bay, but they couldn’t do it alone. They called in the nascent Israel air force, which consisted of four Messerschmitt aircraft smuggled in from Czechoslovakia in pieces and assembled in secrecy at night by the Israeli air force technicians. None of the four planes had test flights. Their first mission was the attack the Egyptian forces and prevent the advance on Tel Aviv. On 29 May 1948, Two Israelis, one American Machal volunteer and one South African Machal volunteer piloted the planes. They took the Egyptians by surprise. The Egyptians were sure that Israel did not have an air force. The impact of the air attack was tremendous. The Egyptians stopped their advance. The newly formed Israeli Airforce and the Givati Brigade saved Tel Aviv! Sadly, the South African Machal pilot Edi Cohen lost his life in the attack. We commemorate him on the South African Wall of Remembrance in the Telfed offices in Ra’anana.
On 29 May 2023, the Israeli air force held a ceremony commemorating the pivotal air force attack on the advancing Egyptian forces at the Ad Halom bridge. One of the event’s organisers was Saul Simon, a pilot and the son of the late legendary 1948 Machal volunteer and bombardier Smoky Simon and air force volunteer Myra Simon.
In the photo, next to the new air force memorial plaque is, left to right, Dave Bloom (Chairman of World Machal), Tomer Bar (Commander of the Israeli Airforce), Hymie Goldblatt (1948 Machal volunteer, aged 100!), Dorron Kline (Telfed CEO and 1987 Machal volunteer) and Tzemach Blumberg (1956 Machal volunteer).
In mid-June, we welcomed an Aliyah group flight from South Africa.
Olim on this flight received their Teudot Zehut at the airport on arrival – a new policy implemented by the Minister of Aliyah and Klita, Ofir Sofer, together with Interior Minister, Moshe Arbel. Telfed has been active in finding a solution to the bureaucratic hurdles facing new Olim, in collaboration with partners in the Olim Association.
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Ahead of the formalisation of the new policy, the Olim Association met with Jewish Agency (JAFI) Aliyah and Absorption Unit Directors – Shay Felber and Orly Zuckerman. The meeting focused on finding solutions for long-awaited Israeli ID documents for new Olim and Aliyah promotion amongst participants in MASA (long-term programmes in Israel for young adults). Dorron and Shay also discussed the JAFI-allocated budget for Aliyah promotion in South Africa.
In the photo (left to right): Dorron Kline (CEO – Telfed), Sam Kadouch (CEO – CNEF French Student Organisation), Shay Felber (Director of the JAFI Aliyah and Absorption Unit, and JAFI Deputy Director General), Mario Lev (Chairman – Ole Klita organisation for South America and Chairman of the Olim Association), Orly Zuckerman (Director of JAFI Absorption Programs for Western Olim), and Eliahu Shaul (Director – Olim Association).
The next Aliyah group flight from South Africa is scheduled to arrive on 17 July.
Telfed and the Israel-South Africa Chamber of Commerce attended the “Innovation Journey South Africa” conference organised by the JDC (Joint Distribution Committee) and the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry. The event focused on how Israeli hi-tech impacts the South African agricultural sector, including how new Olim from South Africa contribute to this field. Dorron Kline (right) represented Telfed, and Shraga Barak (left) represented the Israel-SA Chamber of Commerce.
Ben Gurion University invited Telfed as an honorary guest to their annual Board of Governors gathering in Sde Boker, lauding the Telfed initiative of a seven-year medical degree in English in Israel. In cooperation with Ben Gurion University, Ariel University, and the Ministry of Absorption Student Authority, New Olim students can now study medicine in English in Israel for free.
The seven-year programme consists of a three-year Pre-Med degree in English at Ariel U and a four-year MD degree at the Medical School of International Health at BGU, with the first two years in English and the final two years in Hebrew. In the photo, Ben Gurion peers over the shoulders of Jeff Kaye, the BGU Vice- President for Public Affairs and Telfed’s CEO, Dorron Kline.
Unistream has been working for two decades to enable Israel’s youth to unlock their hidden potential and acquire professional and life skills to contribute to their future success. Unistream provides high school pupils with entrepreneurial tools to leverage to turn a dream into a business plan, enabling them to create new solutions. Telfed maintains regular contact with Michael Fisher, a South African veteran Oleh, and the Unistream Director of Global Development. Telfed utilised this contact to help create the Unistream Israel-South Africa Partnership Together Programme. 15 Jewish high school pupils from Cape Town and Johannesburg joined 15 high school pupils from the Beit Shemesh – Mateh Yehuda Region for two months of interactive entrepreneurial training sessions over Zoom. Four judges, two from South Africa (Dr Liat Arran and Anthony Rosmarin) and two from Israel (SA veteran Olim, Jonny Klompas and Mandy Gaziel), graded three entrepreneurial projects presented by the programme participants.
Daniela Shapira (Telfed’s Klita Advisor) represented Telfed at a meeting at the Jewish Agency’s Global Centre for Olim organisations. Daniela had the opportunity to meet with Aurelie Kroitorou (South African desk), Fabio Auben (Australia/NZ desk) and Arielle Di Porto (Aliyah Department Director of the Jewish Agency for Israel). The meeting focused on activities of the Jewish Agency and the processes involved in the approval of Aliyah applications.
Today, the Aliyah process begins with the Jewish Agency’s Global Centre where future Olim open their Aliyah files online and submit the relevant documentation. For South Africans and Australians, the Jewish Agency is responsible for the Aliyah process, required documentation and approvals.
Last week, Telfed CEO Dorron Kline helped to train the “Cycalive” Young Shlichim (emissaries) for their trip to South Africa in August this year on behalf of the Jewish Agency Partnership Together (P2G) Programme. Cycalive is a five-day bicycle ride from Johannesburg to Durban with the participation of Jewish and Black youth. It is the initiative of Rabbi Dovid Hazdan of Chabad, South Africa. The Shlichim chosen this year (in the photo from left to right, with Dorron in the centre) are all from Beit Shemesh (the Partnership Together city matched with South Africa): Yoav Goodman (Australian parents), Zechariah Lang (Australian parents), Yair Silverman (Australian parents), Ori Segal (South African parents) and Mordechai Solnica (American parents). Dorron gave the five Young Shlichim a two-hour training session on Telfed Klita (absorption) activities and background information about the Jewish community of South Africa. “In South Africa, you represent P2G, Beit Shemesh and the State of Israel. The SA Jewish pupils will turn to you for all sorts of information about Israel and Aliyah.”