Telfed: Providing support and assistance

For over 60 years, Telfed has provided support for Southern African immigrants in Israel, in keeping with the Jewish community’s long- standing tradition of looking after their own.

An evening to remember

In late June, Telfed hosted a reception honouring Philip Krawitz (Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the United Jewish Campaign) and welcoming Alison Katzeff on her first visit to Telfed. That evening we also celebrated the official unveiling of the plaque dedicating the ‘Eliot and Myra Osrin Administration Centre’ in the Telfed building.

At this very special event, Telfed Vice-Chair Batya Shmukler and Former Director Sid Shapiro thanked the Osrins and Krawitzs for their exceptional dedication and support of the State of Israel and Telfed. The ‘Philip and Michele Krawitz Annual Bursary’ — to be awarded each year to a deserving student — was launched, and Philip presented the inaugural bursary. The highlight of the evening was Philip’s fascinating address to the lay leaders, volunteers and community members present. He commented on the projects that the UJC is in involved with, and outlined the challenges that the local community faces.

Philip commended Telfed on their efforts to assist Southern Africans in Israel: “The fact that Telfed is essentially a professionally-run, volunteer-driven organisation, really appeals to us. Telfed has become such an important player in the delicate process of ‘Klitah absorption) and deserves all the support and encouragement possible”. It was a memorable occasion for these prominent leaders of the Cape Town community to be received and honoured as committed partners by Telfed.

Telfed’s unique PRAS programme

The word ‘pras’ in Hebrew means prize — and this Telfed flagship project is all about teaching students the ethics of ‘give and take’, and how giving to the community can benefit them.

Initiated ten years ago, PRAS is unique in its multi-dimensional life lessons for those who participate. Essentially, generous bursaries are awarded to students who commit to doing 94 hours of community service per academic year. It is a ‘win- win’ project, designed to support the continuing education and advancement of the younger generation while teaching them the importance of helping others. In the 2013/14 academic year, 126 students participated. The Telfed PRAS coordinator, Dana Levy-Tavor, is already receiving applications for the 2014/15 academic year. Each application is carefully vetted by the Endowments and Scholarships Committee, led by chairman Batya Shmukler.

Managing mental illness in the family

Through our social worker, Louise Geva, Telfed has sponsored and organised two events on the subject of managing mental illness in the family. In December 2013, forty people attended an event on the subject. The speakers were Dr. Shirli Werner of the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who lectured on public attitudes towards mental illness; and David Lochoff from SW Ariel University and Director of Assisted Living and Sheltered Housing for people that live in the community and deal with mental disability. He spoke about the rights of people with mental illness and options and opportunities in the community.

Due to the success of this first event, another informative evening was organised in May, this time hosted at the MILAM Counseling Center for Families of the Mentally Ill in Kfar Saba.

The lecturer, Shuvit Melamed, explained that there is a 20% to 50% improvement in the medical condition of patients following psychosocial family intervention and improvement in the well-being of the family. It was also encouraging to learn that Israel is a leader in the field with advanced family services and advanced rehabilitation services.

Picnic in the park

At the end of June, Telfed’s Hasharon Regional Committee (serving Ra’anana, Kfar Saba, Hod Hasharon and Herzlia areas) organised a picnic in the beautiful Ra’anana Park, coordinated through Netta Steiner, Head of Volunteerism at Telfed. The purpose of the picnic was to bring together young families in the Sharon area. Assisting new immigrants from Australia Telfed will continue to assist new immigrants from Australia in their absorption process, during their first year in Israel. They will be entitled to the services of Susan Sharon, Telfed’s Klitah Counselor, Sharon Bernstein, the Employment Advisor and Louise Geva, the social worker. They will also be met at the airport by Avraham Rimini.