The new and old Shlichim came from across the country, Johannesburg and Cape Town itself, to meet each other and become acquainted with the unique South African Jewish conditions and the distinctive challenges faced by the Jewish community here. The 2014 seminar was fortunate to have Offer Isseroff attend, Offer is the Deputy Head of the Shlichim Unit at the Jewish Agency for Israel and he flew to South Africa, in part, to take part in this year’s session.
The seminar included meeting with organisations allied with the work of the Israel Centre and the Jewish Agency for Israel and supportive of Israel. The Mishlachat were addressed by representatives of Bridges for Peace, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, Group 18 and Africa for Israel Christian Coalition, while the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Partnership2Gether programme also discussed their work in South Africa. Naomi Hadar of the Israel United Appeal/Kerren Hayesod Johannesburg spoke about their important role in fundraising and bringing attention to Israel in the South African Jewish Community. The Israeli Shlichim also heard from the South African Union of Jewish Students how they deal with Anti-Israel events and bias on campus and received an in-depth report back on the recent Onwards Yalla Israel Advocacy MASA programme that many SAUJS members participated in.
A highlight of the seminar was a guided tour through the South African Jewish Museum and the Shlichim were also fortunate to catch the Samuel Bak Retrospective while it was still being exhibited in Cape Town. Both aspects of the tour were very informative and meaningful. The work of Samuel Bak brought home the importance of the State of Israel to the Jewish people, even emphasising the significance to Israeli born Jews. The history of the Jews in South Africa was eye-opening to the Shlichim and gave them a greater understanding of the past’s impact onto the current South African Jewish Community. They were introduced to the vast and impressive contributions made by Jews to South Africa and the rich and varied history and culture of the Jewish presence in this country. This trip gave perspective and understanding to the Shlichim on the South African Jewish Community as a whole and the connections and interactions with the transformation of South Africa in its entirety over the course of the last two hundred years.
The Mishlachat were fortunate to be presented with a session by Frans Cronje, deputy Chief Executive of the South African Institute of Race Relations, entitled “The Next Ten Years: A time-traveller’s guide to the future of South Africa”. This gave the Shlichim a comprehensive understanding of South Africa now and in the near future and exposed them to many insights and nuances unique to the country, thereby helping in the work in South Africa with the Jewish Community and beyond.
Amidst all the workshops and information sessions the Mishlachat were able to experience the natural beauty of Cape Town with a sunset hike up Lion’s Head, an amazing opportunity to appreciate the majestic scenery on offer. Of course a moment like that would not be complete without an Israeli flag being waved from the summit of Lion’s Head.
The Seminar’s aim was to bond all the Shlichim together, wherever they may be working, and give them in-depth insights into the South African landscape they will be working in and how best to engage with South African Jews and beyond as representatives of Israel were achieved. Once again the Mishlachat Seminar 2014 was successful and provided a worthwhile blueprint for the activities of the Shlichim around South Africa in the year to come.