The inaugural Olim L’Arava day took place on Thursday 18 November, where the Arava Australia Partnership and the Zionist Fedration of Australia’s (ZFA) Israel Office hosted more than 60 Australian Olim in the Arava to experience and taste what the incredibly unique Partnership region has to offer. The group was joined by Acting Australian Ambassador Matthew Wise and Moriah Ben David, ZFA’s Israel Office director.
The day started with Olim being bussed from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem before a delicious breakfast in a greenhouse setting. There is no better way to start a day full of activities, than looking over the desert landscape, soaking in the nature and experiencing the amazing produce from the region. There, the Olim could hear the story of the Arava, while picking and tasting fresh Arava fruit and vegetables.
Later, Olim heard about the pioneering journey of the Porat honey farm, which was one of the first farms in the Arava, before visiting the Arava Artist’s Exhibition in Zuqim and taking in the local artistic talent. The day was finished off by meeting the director of the Arava International Film Festival Eyal Shirai and watching a short movie produced and filmed in the Arava.
ZFA CEO Ginette Searle said, “. This program offered our Australian olim, many of whom were not yet connected with our partnership community in the Arava, with a unique desert experience while at the same time connecting them with the people of the Arava and with other Australian Olim. It was also the perfect opportunity to introduce to the Arava region and to further strengthen the connections between our communities through the Arava Australia Partnership.
AAP National Coordinator Stacy Hayman said, “there is no zoom event that can create a personal connection to the Arava as honestly, strongly and genuinely as simply being in the Arava. We are delighted to have been able to provide this unique experience to our Australian Olim at a time when they have been separated from family and friends. We hope they will now view the Arava as their home away from home in Israel”.
Acting Ambassador Matthew Wise addressed the Olim in the Arava, ““Israel and Australia share a long history and deep friendship. We are both migrant nations – we know at a personal level what it is to uproot our lives and re-establish communities in new places. The connections kept and the new ones made between Australia and Israel are what gives the relationship the vibrancy, energy and meaning of which we are so proud.”
Dr Riva Hayman, who recently made Aliyah from Sydney said of the day, “we had a fabulous day, meeting the chalutzim in who live in the Arava with such passion to fulfil David Ben Gurion’s dream of the making the Negev bloom was truly inspiring. They were so warm and welcoming that I would be happy to make the 3 hour drive again, and soon! It was great to meet other Olim – what a lovely way to meet up with old friends and make new friends.”