Jewish Maritime League’s Diamond Jubilee

Diamond Jubilee: 75 years of Jewish maritime activity

An historic conference was held In June 1937 off the coast of Palestine on board the s.s ‘Har Zion’, at which the Palestine Maritime League was launched. It was renamed the Israel Maritime League on the creation of the Jewish State of Israel.

Fifteen months later, in September 1938, the late Dr Max Soloveitchik, while on a mission for the Keren Hayesod in South Africa, initiated the launch of the movement in Cape Town, and the first associated branch of the I.M.L in the Diaspora. This became known as the Cape Town Branch of the Palestine Maritime League.

After 1948, the name changed to the South African Friends of the Israel Maritime League and in 1973 the organisation was renamed the SA Jewish Maritime League. Originally founded as a subsidiary to the Israel Palestine Maritime League to support the Israeli Navy and maritime industry, the league played a major role in establishing the Nautical College in Akko, Israel and continues its support by providing annual bursaries to the college.

The SA JML continues its outreach in the South African context by providing three boats to yacht clubs for their local youth sailing development programmes. Our continued development outreach has resulted in three successful ‘Sailing Together’ programmes, bringing youth from all walks of life together as a young enthusiastic sailing team. In 2008, the JML became a founding member of SASLA (Sailing for Life Skills Association).

The JML’s objectives are to promote, encourage and support all maritime-related activity within the Jewish community of South Africa and Israel; support and develop community-based maritime education outreach programmes; promote maritime activity with Jewish youth and support our initiatives with sponsorships.

Our projects

• Ha-Yam, our annual magazine. To celebrate our Diamond Jubilee, and in partnership with the Gitlin Library, a vast collection of archive material will be digitally scanned and uploaded to our website.

• Overseas bursaries for the Nautical College of Akko: Approximately 440 cadets study at the college, from all religions and socio-economic groups. This year, 119 cadets graduated and 37 received scholarships.

• Local bursaries: Available for all maritime-related studies. This year, in recognition of his decades of dedicated service to the SA JML, a bursary in the name of Barney Sank will be presented to a student at the Lawhill Maritime Centre.

• Development sailing: The SA JML has provided 3 L26s yachts and dinghies to clubs in Cape Town. The JML 1 is based at the Royal Cape Yacht Club, JML 2 is based at False Bay Yacht Club, JML 3 is based t Hout Bay Yacht Club and the dinghies at the Imperial Yacht Club. They are all used extensively for development sailing. Over and above our initial contribution of a vessel, the JML provides annual assistance towards maintenance costs and assists youth development teams to race competitively. We have also assisted Rotary Scouts with funding for their vessel, which is also available for SA JML activities.

• Sailing Together brings together a diverse group of young people who are all passionate about the sea. The programmes have over the years taken on two formats; the one is to bring young Israelis and Palestinians together for a programme in South Africa. The second format sees a diverse group participating in the Summer Camp programme of the Israel Sea Scouts in Akko. South African Jewish and non- Jewish participants were able to bond as a South African team. For many in the group it was their first opportunity to travel.

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 Ha-Yam

• Support Ha-Yam through advertising.

For expanded articles on the SA JML history and activities, please see our Diamond Jubilee edition of Ha-Yam which will be published by the end of September. If you would like to receive a copy and join as a member, please e-mail us on