By Lili Goldberg
As the only child of a single mother, independence is my greatest aspiration.
I am not the typical South African Olah. For starters, I consider myself an entrepreneur. I was raised in a home with Jewish traditions by my non-Jewish mother. After realising that a BCom was not right for me, I decided on a gap year in Israel. With a dream to convert, my gap year would include learning in a midrasha and studying giur. It was my paternal grandfather, Solly Goldberg z”l, who introduced me to Telfed and the South African community in Israel. The support I received from Telfed motivated me to ‘pay it forward’. Israel is my home and I want other young, single Olim to feel the same sense of “coming home” as I have experienced.
When I first arrived in Jerusalem, I had passed the age of eligibility for national service. As I couldn’t serve, I decided to focus my efforts on those who could, by packing food parcels and hosting shabbat meals for Lone Soldiers. As COVID-19 hit, I decided to make a change and move to Tel Aviv. During this time, I was looking for new opportunities to volunteer and realised that young Olim who could not see their families in South Africa or Australia were in need of a strong social support system in Israel. Joining Telfed’s Youth Committee for South African and Australian under 35s was just the opportunity I was looking for. I was elected as the Chairperson of the Youth Committee and am excited to be a part of a young, dynamic team of Olim. My ‘team’ includes young South African and Australian Olim with a shared love of Israel and an understanding that young Olim will have an easier klita (absorption) with a supportive network.
Our team recently delivered welcome baskets to new Olim who arrived during lockdowns, we will be hosting a rooftop braai and we have been assisting Telfed’s Lone Soldier Committee with a project to send gifts to Lone Soldiers across Israel.
If you are prepared to work hard, Israel offers great opportunities. I knew academia was not for me but that I could make my mark with hard work. I am a strong believer in leading a healthy lifestyle and found many opportunities in this field. I am currently selling sports equipment and offering personal training for women. During lockdowns, interest in personal training spiked as gyms closed, and I am delighted to now have assistants supporting my business. I love that there are certain areas in Israel which seem underdeveloped, offering great opportunities for small business owners.
Israel is a country of miracles and I am constantly inspired by Israelis’ determination to flourish. I am proud to be living in a country that is growing and prospering; a country that provides a sanctuary for Jews of all persuasions, a safe haven and a home. We invite young Olim to join us and to get involved in a unique community within Israel. You can follow the Youth Committee on Instagram – @telfedyouth.
Published in the print edition of the December 2020/January 2021 issue.
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