SA Jewish Maritime League celebrates 75 years

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The South African Jewish Maritime League (JML) is currently celebrating its 75th Diamond Jubilee.

The JML’s objectives include promoting, encouraging and supporting all maritime-related activity within the Jewish community of South Africa and in Israel; supporting and developing community-based maritime education outreach programmes; and promoting maritime activity amongst the Jewish youth. To mark its 75th year, which runs from October 2013 — October 2014, the JML has hosted and will be hosting a number of exciting activities.

Maritime Day with Camp Kesher

The JML’s 75th Diamond Jubilee celebrations kicked off with a project that underlines the objectives of the SA Jewish Maritime League, which is to provide and inspire youth upliftment.

Partnering in a project with Camp Kesher, which provided their children with a fun and educational maritime day was most appropriate and reflected much of the diverse activities of 75 years of JML.

Camp Kesher is an annual camp that is held in the December holidays in Lakeside, Cape Town. It caters for Jewish children aged 8 — 16 who for financial, emotional or other reasons cannot or would rather not attend one of the other available camps. The event with Camp Kesher took place on the 26 December 2013 at the Imperial Yacht Club at Zandvlei, near their campsite in Muizenberg. The weather conditions were near perfect with blue skies and a light breeze.

We focused on providing an opportunity for the children to experience sailing for the first time in a safe environment.

The 64 participants, whose ages ranged from 8 to 16 years, were divided into groups of twelve. Each group commenced their sailing session with 15 minutes of safety instruction, which included fitting life-jackets, capsize drill and more.

They then moved on to 45 minutes of sailing. There were two boats on the water at a time each, with one licensed instructor for each boat.

Those who were not sailing at the time were entertained with various maritime themed activities including, a water/boat safety station where they learned about the different parts of a boat, tying knots and more. There was also a craft station set up where they built cardboard boats and received craft kits which included wooden cut-outs that were pieced and glued together.

Camp Kesher organised for volunteers to make kites with the children, and soon the nearby park was taken over by 64 enthusiastic kite flyers. There was also a waterslide, which added to the fun.

Each child was delighted to receive a ‘goodie bag’ that included snacks, treats and a peak-cap which went straight onto their heads. The hands-on activities of the day were only interrupted by a scrumptious lunch and lots of cake.

The success of the programme far exceeded both our expectations and that of the Camp organisers. The SA JML has been requested to host another day for Camp Kesher in December 2014.

Upcoming 75th Diamond Jubilee celebratory event

In May, the SA JML will host a cocktail evening to showcase our many achievements and projects over the last 75 years. The event will also be the launch of the JML ‘Sailing Together’ 2014 programme.

The Sailing Together programme has proven to be most successful, the first being ‘Sailing Together 1993’ with many more similar events following. This programme brings together a diverse and often traditionally conflicting group of young people whose commonality is their passion for the sea.

The programmes have over the years taken on two formats. The first is to bring young Israeli and Arab youths together in equal numbers for a 10 day sailing project in South Africa. The second format is to take a group of South African Jewish and non-Jewish youth to Israel to participate in a Sailing Together project.

The Sailing Together 2012 programme, which was only the second time we took a group from South Africa to Israel, was a collaboration with the Israel Sea Scouts and was held in Akko, Israel.

Jewish and non-Jewish participants bonded as a South African team. For many in the group, travelling through Israel and visiting Yad Vashem was an eye opener and their first opportunity to travel abroad and experience a culture beyond their borders.

The 2014 programme will yet again take on a different and unique format. Commencing in October 2014, the programme will see a group of children from Israel’s Yemin Orde Youth Village coming to Cape Town to experience Succot in South Africa.

Their week-long experience will include sailing in Table Bay and perhaps sailing to Langebaan as well as dinghy sailing at Zeekoeivlei, They will be touring the Cape Peninsula which will include a visit to the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the South African Jewish Museum. Please let us know if you would be available to host any of these Israeli children.

How you can get involved…

• Join as a member of the SA JML
• Encourage youth members to take part in maritime activities
• Contribute maritime-related articles to JML’s Ha-Yam magazine
• Support the publication of Ha-Yam through advertising
• Sponsorship of any of our above- mentioned projects

For expanded articles on the SA Jewish Maritime League history and activities, please see our newly re-designed website, www.jml.org.za. If you would like to receive a copy of our annual publication Ha-Yam and join as a member, please e-mail us to council@jml.org.za