We overcame Pharoah; we will overcome this too

Telfed CEO Dorron Kline welcomes a group of South African Olim who landed in Israel in February 2024

The past few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions in Israel as we’ve faced unprecedented tragedy and trauma  –  but also an outpouring of love, generosity, courage and resilience. The overwhelming sense of pride that our community felt as they saw photos of the first two South African Olot who landed at Ben Gurion after the war broke out, greeted by sirens in Ben Gurion Airport’s arrival hall, was unparalleled. 

Who would make Aliyah in these uncertain times? Over 100 South Africans! 

In the five months following the brutal attacks on Simchat Torah, we welcomed 100 South African Olim, resolute in their decision to make Aliyah during a war. As Osher Amanda Favel said, “I promised myself that I would be in Israel before the end of the year.  Although I was a bit hesitant to come to Israel before the war happened (different cultures, a whole new way of life, etc.), the war took that anxiety away and made me want to come to Israel more than ever. Everyone overseas suddenly seemed to be against Israel and spoke and spread lies about my beloved country – and for this reason, I felt that now, more than ever, I need to be in my country, with my people.” 

Now that she is settling in her new home she adds, “I can truthfully say that even though there’s a war going on, I still feel safer here. I am so happy to be surrounded by other Jews and like-minded people as we all stand together and defend our beloved Israel against the world. War or no war, I’m here to stay!”

In a recent interview on Israel’s Channel 12, young Olim from around the world (including Ben-Tziyon Opert from Cape Town) reflected on making Aliyah during a war. In unison, they spoke about a sense of solidarity, of belonging, and a desire to have children who will one day feel this same sense of belonging. 25 percent of our recent arrivals are between the ages of 18 and 25, and they join a remarkable nation, making their contribution to rebuilding and recovery in response to the attacks on 7 October. 

As always, those considering Aliyah are advised to plan and prepare in advance. And while we are dealing with uncertainty, Telfed’s Pre Aliyah Advisor, Josie Lutrin, reiterates the importance of advance preparation: “Do your research and take ownership of your Aliyah.” She also quips, “Change your One Time Passwords (OTPs) to email.” Telfed’s Employment Advisor, Yael Strausz, adds: “Learn Hebrew!” While new vocabulary may include miklat (bomb shelter) or mechabel (terrorist), it should also include giborim (heroes), mitnadvim (volunteers) and beyachad nenatzeach (Together we will win). 

When concluding the Hagadah this year, we hope the words ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ resonate deeply. As a nation, overcoming adversity is a part of our story, as is our biblical connection to the Land of Israel. Next year, whether you decide to make Aliyah to Jerusalem, or to other towns or cities across Israel, we have wonderful South African communities who will be delighted to welcome you. War or not, this is our home!

Telfed www.telfed.org.il Email: info@telfed.org.il

• Published in the April 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.

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