ZFA President and Executive Director – Visit to Israel
Israeli Presidential Conference, Telfed-ZFA partnership launch and more
There is nothing like waking to the clear light and air of a stunning Jerusalem summer morning, particularly when you’ve just stepped off a plane from Melbourne’s winter. Whilst our visit to Israel was certainly not a summer holiday, our two weeks in Israel, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the people, the food (yes, it’s always about food!) and the opportunities to develop projects and connections for our community is an annual highlight.
ZFA president Philip Chester, Israel Office Director Yigal Sela and I undertook a hectic schedule of meetings, conferences and visits, which included the Israeli Presidential Conference, the launch of the ZFA-Telfed agreement for provision of services to Australian olim, meetings with young Israel program participants, meeting the new Australian Ambassador to Israel and the incoming Israeli Ambassador to Australia, and of course a slew of meetings with our colleagues in the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organisation.
Philip and other Australian leaders also attended the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Board of Governors meetings which were held in Kiev. The meeting program was complemented by an emotional ceremony at Babi Yar, visits to summer camps for young people and meaningful engagement with the local Jewish community.
I am happy to advise that we met with four new shlichim for Australia, who will arrive and settle into their positions in the coming months.
We look forward to welcoming:
- Ron Alter – Habonim Dror and Aliya Sydney
- Aaron Kalman – Hineni / Central Synagogue Sydney
- Ortal Dary – Betar Sydney
- Nadav Shachmon – Netzer / PJV/ The King David School, Melbourne
All four are currently undertaking the Jewish Agency shlichim training program.
There is a definite “buzz” around our new “Kangarusski” Taglit Birthright Israel group. 38 young adults from Russian backgrounds will complete their ten day trip this weekend. All accounts (and fabulous Facebook updates) suggest they’ve been having the time of their lives and we look forward to all the news of the trip and welcoming the participants back soon.
I always like to take the opportunity to visit locations I’ve not been to before. This trip, Yigal Sela and I visited the (relatively) new Rabin Centre – an interactive exhibition which chronicles the life of Yitzhak Rabin and simultaneously depicts Israeli and world history in the corresponding time periods. It’s well worth a visit next time you’re in Tel Aviv. We also visited the inspirational Beit Issy Shapiro Centre in Raanana. This facility is in itself a remarkable tribute to Israel’s pursuit of excellence and tikkun olam as it develops and shares cutting edge techniques and methodologies to assist people with intellectual disabilities. The Australian connection there is strong, with former JNF Sydney shaliach, Benjy Maor and the ZFA’s own former Associate Director, Dara (Podjarski) Marcus working there professionally, and the previous Melbourne Aliya shaliach, Oren Sela a member of the board. All three welcomed us and gave us a personal tour of this wonderful institution.