GRAPEVINE: 70 years of Telfed

Telfed’s 70th anniversary celebrations.

MK Avraham Neguise (photo credit: BERNARD DICHEK)
MK Avraham Neguise
(photo credit: BERNARD DICHEK)
ON SUNDAY of this week, all roads led to Jerusalem for members of Telfed and the recipients of Telfed scholarships. Unfortunately, they did not choose the most ideal date on which to arrive, and due to the construction project at the entrance to the city were caught up in traffic congestion resulting in delays of an hour and more for a ride that should have taken 10 minutes at most.
This year’s annual scholarship gathering was a spectacular kickoff to Telfed’s 70th anniversary celebrations, which coincide with those of the State of Israel, as Telfed, the Israel branch of the South African Zionist Federation, initially served the needs of the many South African volunteers who came to fight in the War of Independence.
Five hundred and thirty-one scholarships were awarded at this year’s Scholarship Gathering, which was hosted at the Knesset by MK Avraham Neguise, who chairs the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs.
Under the stewardship of Telfed’s Endowments, Scholarships and PRAS Committee, scholarships are awarded according to financial need or the ability to volunteer with immigrant families, perpetuating Telfed’s ethos of assisting immigrants. In fact, two-thirds of this year’s recipients were immigrants, or the children or grandchildren of Southern African immigrants. In addition, 166 Israeli students, whose origins range from Ethiopia to Australia, were among the scholarship recipients.
Neguise voiced appreciation to Telfed for its successful contribution to the absorption of more than 25,000 immigrants during “seven decades of outstanding service.” Emphasizing the equality of opportunity in Israel, Neguise encouraged the students to maximize these opportunities.
Telfed chairwoman Batya Shmukler spoke of how Telfed has evolved from an organization that was created to assist Southern African Mahal (Volunteers from Abroad) soldiers in 1948 to the wide-ranging organization that it is today. Shely Cohen, who chairs Telfed’s scholarship committee, lauded the generosity and foresight of the donors who fund the scholarships. Four scholarship recipients recounted their experiences, acknowledging the importance of Telfed’s scholarship program.
ST. PATRICK’S Day is on the immediate horizon, and in Jerusalem will be celebrated on Saturday, March 17, in the Pasha Room of the American Colony Hotel, where the musical mood will definitely be Irish with pianist Deirdre Brenner, soprano Mairead Buicke and violinist Rita Manning, who are all from Ireland, and will be presenting authentic Irish music by well-known Irish composers.
The American Colony is one of the most veteran hotels in Jerusalem with a genuine Middle Eastern ambience and a wealth of history, some of which can be learned from documents and photographs on display. With or without the concert, the hotel is worth a visit.
THE LAST line of John Milton’s poem “On His Blindness” – “They also serve who only stand and wait” – certainly applies to the bevy of stills photographers and video cameramen who waited for hours last Friday to catch a good shot at the end of the long police interrogation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They all knew in advance that he would not emerge from his residence in shackles. Nor would he emerge at all for that matter. He was going to America on Saturday night and he still had to prepare.
The back of a police car leaving the compound outside the residence could have been taken from any media archive of previous interrogations at the Prime Minister’s Residence and the public would never have known the difference.
GUESTS AT the annual Purim luncheon hosted by Jerusalem Post columnist Barbara Sofer and her husband, Gerald Schroeder, author of the best-selling book Genesis and the Big Bang, included Lynn and ADD expert Amnon Gimpel, who came in fancy dress for the occasion and brought two of their three dogs, which were also attired in Purim costumes. They proved to be the best-behaved canines that one could ever encounter, so much so that even people who are not well disposed to dogs could not object, because the dogs were so quiet and docile, and only those guests sitting right next to the Gimpels were aware of their presence. The luncheon was also an opportunity to wish Schroeder well on his 80th birthday.