Five years ago we began our long screening in the Jewish Agency to become a Shlichim family (as by now it is quite obvious that the Shlichut is a mission involving the entire family).
The initial idea was to go to a Spanish-speaking country, in order to ‘complete the cycle’ as my parents made Aliyah from there about 35 years ago. We were quite disappointed when eventually there was no location available for Shlichut, so we had to continue with our lives. In March 2011, after we had already gotten used to the idea that Shlichut would not happen for us, we received a phone call from Habonim Olami, telling us about this joint Shlichut between Habonim Olami and the Cape Town community, that might be suitable for us. To make a long story short, after meeting Tamar Lazarus in Israel and successfully passing the screening process, we were told we were chosen to be the Shlichim.
And so, in August 2011, we arrived in Cape Town. Not knowing exactly what would be awaiting us (a lot of good souls in Israel regarded us as ‘insane’ for going with our family to the ‘dangerous’ South Africa). From my work shadow experience (a week during May) we already perceived that this is an amazing community, but we never realised just how incredible. The last three years (and it’s really unbelievable how fast they have flown by) have been the most amazing three years of our lives, on a personal level, on a professional level and as a family (I think the fact that we came as four and are returning as five can testify to that! ).
This position turned out to be much more than I’ve ever hoped for. The ability to work on a deep and meaningful level with so many various groups has been fantastic, ranging from Bnoth Zion WIZO ladies, Christian Zionists to Cape Jewish Seniors; briefing the community about different events happening in Israel as well as working at the various schools. The opportunity I’ve been given to express my true passion for informal education, teaching in the schools a fresh new curriculum and of course being part of the Habonim Dror youth movement — working with the leadership and channichim involved, being able to challenge myself intellectually as well as have fun made it such an amazing experience (where else in the world could a 35 year old man find himself dancing at Havdallah with primary school kids). It was great to be part of the community and Israeli events, adding some Israeli perspective and trying to make them as meaningful as possible; and of course helping Olim to fulfil their dreams. I had the privilege of working with amazing people — the young shlichim, and, together with Maya, we tried to be one 19 big family for them.
There are so many people we can thank, and unfortunately our space is very limited. The warm welcome we received, the willingness of people to assist with anything that was needed, the hospitality of the community and the fact that we were not only embraced but were wholeheartedly made part of the community is all so valued. A special thank you to Tamar and Ronald Lazarus and Ben and Esta Levitas for making us part of their families. Our experience would not have been the same without you.
This is a remarkable community — I just wish people could see that though there are many different viewpoints, each of them possesses a special connection to Israel in their own way, with the similarities being much bigger than the differences. We as a community should look to what unites us and not what separates us. Cape Town is not only beautiful because of its scenery. It is the people that make it magnificent.
Wishing you a ‘Shana Tova’ and thank you for a really amazing three years,
Yaniv and Maya Nachmias and family