Making Aliyah is a life-changing journey. For most South Africans, the decision to pack up and leave the familiar is driven by the belief that Israel offers a better future.
Regardless of age, integration into a new country is challenging — Telfed’s scholarship programmes were created with this in mind. “We often hear parents say that they can only really settle down once their kids are happy,” said Telfed CEO Dorron Kline, “and that’s where PRAS provides a lifeline.”
‘PRAS’ (a Hebrew acronym for ‘Assistance Project’) is a Telfed scholarship programme where students volunteer with members of the Olim community. PRAS clients include the elderly and individuals with special needs, but the majority of students volunteer with new, school-age Olim. As Candice, a single mom who made Aliyah from South Africa said, “Our PRAS student, Jessica, has been phenomenal in everything that she does, including playing, assisting with homework and becoming a ‘big sister companion’ to my son.”
Niv, a medical student and PRAS Student Co-ordinator, was born in Israel. “My grandparents are originally from Johannesburg, and they made Aliyah 60 years ago. It was not easy for them. When I heard about Telfed and PRAS, I knew I must volunteer to help people like my grandparents. I had the privilege to enjoy the company of two amazing people, and we hosted the whole family for a Yom Haatzmaut braai!”
The students not only benefit from a scholarship, but the spirit of volunteerism that is central to the South African Jewish community and to Telfed, is perpetuated through this programme. In light of this, Telfed’s SASI scholarship programme will now fall under the PRAS umbrella.
South Africans Studying in Israel (SASI), a programme inititiated and primarily sponsored by The Eric and Sheila Samson Foundation, affords South African students the opportunity to experience student life in Israel while attending world-class universities. This experience is often the catalyst for Aliyah. The SASI scholarship includes a social programme, where students connect with fellow South Africans living and studying (and now volunteering) in Israel.
As the 2020/2021 academic year drew to an end and COVID restrictions on gatherings were lifted, Telfed scholarship recipients could meet in-person to mark the end of a challenging year. PRAS students enjoyed a picnic in Herzliya Park with live music, while SASI students met for an intimate dinner at Tel Aviv’s bustling Sarona Market.
If you’re planning on making Aliyah or considering studying in Israel, make sure to register for Telfed’s PRAS or SASI programmes before 31 August 2021. Details are available online: https://www.telfed.org.il/scholarships/
• Published in the PDF edition of the September 2021 issue – Download here.
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