Getting A Second Chance in Life

"This site is a living testimony to the redemption of our land and the redemption of orphaned children that is the legacy of Isaac Ochberg.

By KKL - JNF STAFF
July 24, 2011 17:01
KKL-JNF

KKL_240711_A. (photo credit: KKL-JNF)

"This site is a living testimony to the redemption of our land and the redemption of orphaned children that is the legacy of Isaac Ochberg. It is eminently appropriate that KKL-JNF is responsible for a project in honor of Isaac Ochberg, since this organization and this man are inscribed for all eternity in the history of our unique region." Hanan Erez, head of the Meggido Regional Council, was speaking at the dedication ceremony of the Isaac Ochberg Scenic Lookout Memorial that took place on Wednesday, July 20. The audience included descendents of "Ochberg Orphans" from Israel, the UK, the United States and South Africa. The families, all of whom were wearing t-shirts printed especially for the occasion, took pictures of themselves next to the names of their parents or grandparents inscribed on ceramic signs on the striking memorial created by KKL-JNF.

"There could be no better place for the Ochberg Lookout Memorial than the Ramot Menashe biospheric park, which was recently officially KKLrecognized by UNESCO," Erez continued. "I would like to thank all the people who were involved in realizing this project, especially everyone at KKL-JNF, who worked tirelessly and made certain that the plan was executed to perfection. This site will be a place where people can come to appreciate the magnificent view as they stroll its paths." The Story of Isaac Ochberg
Isaac Ochberg was born in Uman, Ukraine in 1878. At age 17, he emigrated to South Africa, where he became an extremely wealthy entrepreneur and highly respected businessman. In 1921, when Ochberg learned that Jewish orphans were facing hunger, disease and pogroms in the wake of World War I, Ochberg traveled to the Ukraine, and, with the permission of the South African government, returned a few months later to Cape Town, accompanied by 187 Jewish orphans.

Ochberg was a proud Jew and eminent Zionist who was also a representative at the 16th Zionist Congress held in Zurich in 1929. "I deeply believe that the Jewish problem will find its ultimate solution only in the Land of Israel," he said. The most munificent bequest in Ochberg's will was designated to acquire land for the purpose of the creation of new settlements by KKL-JNF. This bequest remains the largest personal donation received by KKL-JNF to this day. It enabled KKL-JNF to redeem a tract of land on which Kibbutz Dalia and Kibbutz Gal-ed (Even Yitzhak), stand today.

Honoring a Great Man
Mr. Andy Michelson, KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol, who emceed the moving ceremony, introduced Ms. Elizabeth Smith, the charge d'affaires of the South African Embassy. Ms. Smith remarked that the world is not changed by events, "but rather by individuals who change immediate circumstances. Not always are their deeds known or celebrated, but sometimes, like today, recognition is given to an individual who changed lives for the better.
"Everyone knows that children are the most vulnerable in times of war and turmoil. We need to be confronted with personal suffering to be reminded that situations are first and foremost personal, and only then general. Orphans have a difficult road to self-discovery and to dealing with the singular circumstances of their childhood. Each child who was rescued by Isaac Ochberg received a second chance in life. His example reminds each of us to emulate him, and person by person, we might help change the world. In the words of an African saying, "The body of man is very small compared with the spirit of the man that inhabits it."

Mr. Maish Isaacson, the past president of Telfed, the South African Zionist Federation in Israel, said that Telfed would be planting trees in a KKL-JNF forest as a gesture of the South African Jewish community's appreciation of Isaac Ochberg: "Isaac Ochberg has been a source of inspiration for us. Since 1948, the South African Jewish community has been involved in building new communities in Israel. We have also made 600 scholarships available for young people to learn in Israel's universities, and by doing so, we feel that we are continuing in the tradition of this remarkable man."

Mr. Avinoam Binder represented KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler at the ceremony: "Isaac Ochberg was a dreamer who made dreams come true. When he purchased the land here, the scenery was nothing like what we see from the lookout today. The land was barren and desolate. Ochberg dreamt that the Jewish people would come here and establish a Jewish state. This project in his honor is to educate future generations of Israelis not to take our many blessings for granted. KKL-JNF is honored to take part in this project in memory of a man who believed in the future of Israel."

"In my capacity as chairman of the Ochberg Committee," said Mr. Bennie Penzik, "I would like to thank KKL-JNF for this magnificent site in honor of a man who we will always remember as 'Daddy Ochberg'. In a movie clip about Isaac Ochberg that KKL-JNF made in 1950, the KKL-JNF chairman says that 'a man can save his memory from oblivion by linking his name to the land of Israel.' The amount of money that Issac Ochberg bequeathed KKL-JNF in his will, something like one hundred million dollars in present-day value, is still the largest donation ever given to KKL-JNF by one person.

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