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2017 Award Ceremony

How did it come to pass that all those who filled the hall stood with tears in their eyes, clapping their hands?

Telfed held its Award Ceremony last weekrecognizing the exemplary achievements and dedication of Southern Africans who volunteer their time to better Israeli society.

Darryl Alter and his wife Dianne, together with Maish Isaacson, were the guests of honour, who presented the volunteer awards in memory of their parents (Harry & Anita Alter and Archie & Blanche Isaacson, respectively).  Two especially prestigious awards were conferred during the evening, a Special Merit Award  to Josie Shlain and the Yakir Telfed Award - the presentation of which brought all those present to rise for an enthusiastic standing ovation honouring its recipient, Sidney Shapiro. 

True to South African tradition, many guests arrived early and tucked in to the delicious buffet, whilst enjoying some Southern African mingling. No-one imagined the level of excitement that would soon be felt.


L-R: Chairman of the Board of Governors (BoG) Leon Charney, Machal World Chairman Smoky Simon, BoG member and Former Chairman Hertzel Katz, Dr. Michele Shapiro. 

Politely ushering themselves in to the hall, guests, friends, excited children and proud family members settled in to their seats. Newly elected Chairman Batya Shmukler shared a few words of welcome, (see here) commenting that “through the years I’ve come to see what an incredible organization this is supported by dedicated people who help others”. She concluded by saying that “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. When you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”.

The purpose of the evening was to pay tribute to the voluntary work undertaken by Southern Africans in Israel, and several candidates were nominated to receive special acknowledgement.  Called to the stage accompanied by the roaring applause of their family and friends, the following volunteers (voted for by their peers) received certificates of appreciation, flowers and warm embraces: Beryl Schmidt, Hayden Bailey, Miriam Syber, Barry Kornel, Marion Polusky-Nakash, Libby Strous, Len Markuschowitz, David Goldberg and Joel Goodman. 


Nominees and winners of the Telfed accolades

Whilst all the volunteers made valiant contributions in their respective fields, none the more so than Ros Bak – who was the leader in this category, being presented with the Telfed Volunteer of the Year Award for her assistance to the community over a number of years, in a variety of capacities.  (See the Telfed 2017 Hall of Fame for profiles on all nominees - click here).


L-R: Telfed Chairman Batya Shmukler shares a warm embrace with Ros Bak,
Telfed Volunteer of the Year (2017)

Ilana Bank received The Harry and Anita Alter Memorial Award from Darryl Alter (son of Harry and Anita z’l and sponsor of the award).  Darryl spoke of the award being a special way of commemorating the memory of his parents and encouraging people to do good and give back to society. For her part, for the last 15 years Ilana has been involved in several community initiatives, including The Benny Joss Community Food Project, Gift Box Project and the Bar/Bat mitzvah Project, “to assist those who find themselves going through hard times…giving them hope”.

L-R: Dr. Darryl Alter presenting the Alter Memorial Award in memory of his parents to Ilana Bank

The Archie and Blanche Isaacson Memorial Award for a Young Community Volunteer went to Shiri Berzack, who plays an integral role in welcoming young olim to Israel.  This was presented by sponsor of the award Maish Isaacson, in loving memory of his parents, who were shining examples of unaffected altruism.

L-R: Maish Isaacson shares with Shiri Berzak the 'Young Community Volunteer' award in memory of his father, Archie and mother, Blanche.

The excitement grew, reaching a crescendo not only with the musical repertoire provided by Daniella Mann, but also with the final two awards, given in recognition of significant achievements.

L-R: It's all smiles as Josie receives the 'Special Merit Award' from Batya Shmukler

The “Special Merit Award” was scooped by up Josie Shlain, who endeared and entertained the crowd with his good humour and stage presence, proving through his spirit and speech that he was only 91 years ‘young’! A former Machalnik (overseas volunteer in the IDF), Josie has enriched the Southern African community in Israel in a number of ways – as one of the founding members of the Hachshara Building and Agricultural Centre – today the Ha’aretz Museum and of Moshav Shitufi – and perhaps most significantly, for his role in the establishment of Isrentco, the Telfed Housing system which offers discounted rentals for new olim.  

The piece de resistance and highlight of the evening was the final award, the prestigious ‘Yakir Telfed’.  During Telfed’s 70 years of activity, this has been conferred on only 6 individuals – those who have “rendered outstanding service to Telfed consistently, over an extended period of time, showing exceptional and outstanding interest and providing a major contribution through his/her activities and efforts to the well-being of the Telfed organization itself and/or its “clients”. The man of the moment in this instance was Sidney Shapiro.


L-R: Good friend Smoky Simon shares the delight in Sid's special moment

Dorron Kline, Telfed’s CEO, who MC-ed of the evening, spoke of the many community projects that were initiated by Sid, a tapestry of leadership roles, educational, housing, sustainability, aliyah and klita programmes.  As far back as the 1960s, Sid held community leadership roles in his home town, Cape Town.  When he made aliyah in 1970, he continued to make his mark at the helm of Telfed, donating endless hours around the clock to ensure that Southern African community members in Israel were well attended to.

As he took to the stage to receive the award, the atmosphere in the hall was excitedly electric, welcoming this pleasant and respectful gentleman, who confided that notification of the accolade ‘sent an adrenalin spurt straight through me’.


At left: Sid Shapiro - recipient of the 6th Yakir Telfed Award. 

Sid reflected on his years with great eloquence and introspection, recalling unusual experiences and the many colleagues with whom he worked. His strength of character and charisma are felt the moment you meet him, and these very characteristics were present on stage.  He expressed his gratitude to Telfed for bestowing on him this honour - and not surprisingly, Sid gave credit to the people he worked with. He counted one hundred and four of them over the years!

He went on to say that “this award is especially meaningful to me because it comes from an organization that has been a major element in my life and one of which I am so proud to be a part… Yes, those were 43 years jam packed with challenges, excitement, difficulties, achievements and even some disappointments, but they were filled to the brim with gratification and contentment”. (see full acceptance speech here


Sid's family beamed with pride.  At left, with his beloved Michele.

Sid's family sat with their eyes sparkling with pride and excitement, smiles plastering their faces. Some admitted that they had no idea how much he had contributed over the years.  If there was one person in the room that understood the depth of his personal commitment, it was his wife, Michele.  His trembling words of appreciation for her support over the years brought up many a tear from those present, as he shared how she “never objected to the very long working hours – and there were many of them – and always gave me strong moral support.”

It was a most special moment, understanding the honour that this award entails and the personal sacrifices made over the years. As Sid’s speech drew to a close, all those present stood up to salute him on this accolade, ending the evening with thunderous applause and tears of joy.


See photo album on Telfed's Facebook page: click here

To read the the article on Haaretz, click here.

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