As Telfed celebrates its own 70th Anniversary together with the State of Israel, an ambitious project was launched to record the history of Telfed and Southern African Aliyah to Israel. It’s the story of a community that ‘punches well above its weight’ in its range of achievements.
Telfed’s board of directors, chaired by Batya Shmukler, voted to invest in the Telfed History Project with the aim of preserving 70 years of stories and create an online archive of those records as both a celebration and acclamation of the contribution made by Southern Africans to Israel as well as ensuring the stories are easily accessible.
The website www.telfedhistory.com was launched and the project is created and managed by former Telfed Chairman Dave Bloom working closely with former long-standing Telfed Director Sid Shapiro.
“We have video interviewed many current and former staff as well as volunteers and their stories provide important insights into the challenges and success stories of Telfed over all these years,” said Dave Bloom. “We believe that all the information being gathered will be important historical records for posterity and help inspire those involved in Telfed in the years to come,” added Sid Shapiro.
An important aspect of the project is the digitising of all the well-known Telfed magazines that have been published since 1975 and are now online. Each magazine is a history book in its own right with numerous stories of Olim, Telfed projects, events and the many personalities involved in the organisation.
The website includes over 15 hours of video interviews, nearly 25 hours of audio interviews as well as hundreds of photographs from Telfed’s archives. A special section is devoted to personal family and community stories of Southern Africans who have contributed to the building of modern Israel in so many different ways.
Several books were also digitised for the website including the story of the 803 Southern African Machal volunteers, many of whom had only recently finished serving in the 2nd World War but then came to support the fledgling State of Israel and fought in the War of Independence. Another is the book 70 Years of Southern African Aliyah — A story of Achievement originally published edited and sponsored by Telfed.
Another significant section is the Memoriam page where the stories are told of 87 former Southern Africans who fell in the line of duty – protecting both pre and post independent Israel.
The website has a powerful built-in Google search facility which enables visitors to type in keywords that interest them and find the relevant material.
“This is an ongoing project and we envisage adding more material in the coming years but its launch in 2018 is a symbolic celebration of 70 years for Telfed that has grown from strength in providing a wide range of services to Southern African Olim — including scholarships, housing, social services and community services,” said Bloom.