Melinda Gates is credited with the assertion that “women speaking up for themselves and for those around them are the strongest force we have to change the world”.
This sentiment was never truer than during the recent visit of Dorothy Sank (nee Samson) to Telfed. The main topic of discussion during the visit was the up-and-coming SASI (South Africans Studying in Israel) academic support programme, the very idea of which was conceived by Dorothy at a meeting two years ago with former Telfed Director Sid Shapiro. Recognising the need for additional educational options for Jewish South African students and the changes in the current climate (with the difficulties that Jewish students face on campuses in SA), she envisioned the idea of a support network to be created by Telfed, with needs-based accommodation grants for SA students wishing to study at premier Israeli institutions in English. Dorothy spoke of the concerns in Cape Town (including the ongoing water challenges, the ANC call to downgrade the SA embassy in Tel Aviv, and the SA political climate) and how the SASI programme could also connect young Jewish students to Zionism by exposing them to study opportunities in Israel.
Chairman of the Telfed SASI committee Dave Bloom gave an overview of the objectives of the programme and the goals for the coming year, including the introduction of a broader social (volunteering) project for Southern African students in Israel.
Dorothy shared her hope that SASI could strengthen the ties between Israel and South Africa, developing the sense of community responsibility for those students who choose to return to Cape Town, Johannesburg and other centres for the younger generation, imbued in a culture of giving back and embracing leadership roles, especially in Jewish communal associations. Her passion and positive energy shone through — “I think Telfed is an incredible organisation. This is what we should be doing, helping each other!”, she said.
In closing, Telfed’s leadership expressed strong appreciation to Dorothy and the wider family for enabling SASI to come to fruition. Sharing a strong relationship with her parents Eric and Sheila over the years, it was wonderful to see how the second generation is equally compassionate, involved and committed to philanthropy, endorsing the notion that a family legacy is not something you leave for the next generation, but something you leave in them.
Another welcome visitor to Telfed was Julie Berman, Director of the SAZF Cape Council, who addressed the organisation’s lay leaders at the monthly directorate meeting.
Julie discussed issues on the agenda in Cape Town, including the undertakings of the Board of Governors, SAUJS and recent trends. “Many more people are opening Aliyah files. The Samson ‘SASI’ academic support programme for South African Students in Israel who wish to study in Israel in English (without necessarily making Aliyah) has boosted the viability of Israeli education. Previously this was not an option financially for many,” said Julie.
Batya Shmukler, Telfed’s Chairman, expressed appreciation for the relationship between the two organisations. Julie concluded by expressing her admiration for Cape SAZF Chairman, Rowan Polovin, whom she described as both ‘innovative’ and ‘dedicated’ in his endeavours.