Finding your place and your people in Israel

South African women toasted the new year and new beginnings at a welcome event, hosted by Telfed’s Raanana Regional Committee.

In parallel to Israel’s natural, geographic and demographic diversity, communities across the country each have their own unique character, from bustling cosmopolitan cities to rural farming communities. 

A dedicated cadre of Olim volunteers across the country have stepped up to guide South African Olim before, during and after their Aliyah. Telfed’s regional committees provide advice and information about their respective communities, they welcome new arrivals and are instrumental in helping all Olim (including those who are already established in Israel) to maintain a connection to the South African community through regional gatherings. 

With so many factors to consider when emigrating to Israel, deciding where to live can be somewhat overwhelming. Daniela Shapira, Telfed’s Aliyah and Klita Advisor, encourages future Olim to “consider employment opportunities, schools, transport, the cost of living, the level of religiosity and whether one would like to settle in a region with a strong English-speaking community.” 

“We have 24 regional committees who can answer questions specific to their communities. They are a source of support and information,” says Telfed’s Volunteerism and Events Coordinator (and South African Olah) Michelle Nathan. “Telfed’s regional committees welcome Olim when they land, and the connections created are long-term with local events catering to the specific needs of each community.” 

Maya Shapira made Aliyah in her early 20s. “When I was a young Olah, Telfed assisted me and I am forever grateful! I remember anyone and everyone who was kind and helpful and it was so significant for me as my Aliyah was so hard. Today, I have the chance to be on the other side, helping new Olim where I can, just to make things a little easier. This inspires me to be part of this incredible organisation.” 

Maya heads Telfed’s Haifa regional committee, which has seen a growing demand for social activities as Olim are looking to reconnect and expand their networks post-Corona. Ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Haifa Olim community arranged a picnic with over 50 Olim from the northern port city. New Olot to Raanana met for a catch up over cocktails, with veteran Olot welcoming new women to their city. Regular regional coffee mornings are held around the country, and Jerusalem will be holding their inaugural coffee club in October. 

“People are looking for connections, whether they are new to the country or whether they’ve been here for decades,” adds Michelle. “It is thanks to our volunteers that we have a strong South African presence throughout Israel.” 

Telfed Email:

• Published in the October 2022 Digital Edition – Click here to read it.

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