Telfed is a member of the Directorate of Partnership Together (P2G) Beit Shemesh-Mateh Yehudah-South Africa. Initiated in the 1980’s by past Jewish Agency Shlicha to South Africa, Mickey Blumberg, P2G connects between the communities of the city of Beit Shemesh and the regional council of Metah Yehudah (the largest regional council in Israel, stretching from the Judean Hills to the Dead Sea) and the Jewish community of South Africa.
Through face-to-face meetings and exchanges, the communities learn about each others' sense of identity, share successes and challenges in building their communities, develop an appreciation for diversity, learn how events in Israel affect Jews overseas and vice versa, and explore ways of helping each other with our challenges. Through these activities, P2G seeks to promote mutual understanding, cohesion and inspiration.
The activities are based on two mutually reinforcing legs: "People to People" and "Community Building".
People to people creates connections between the communities in Israel and in South Africa through face-to-face encounters, exchange programs and long term relationships. Community building efforts provide content and inspiration on which to base the connections. Community building currently involves leadership development, educational activities, dialog and coexistence initiatives, as well as health and wellness.
This month, the steering committing of P2G held its annual convention in Israel. P2G lay leaders, Israel Centre staff and Shlichim from Cape Town and Johannesburg joined their counterparts from Beit Shemesh and Mateh Yehudah for a week of brain storming, budgetary planning and getting to know each other. Telfed was represented by its CEO, Dorron Kline. The gatherings also included meetings with the Mayor of Beit Shemesh, Rabbi Moshe Abutbul. The Mayor stressed to the steering committee that he views the city of Beit Shemesh as a place for all types of Jews and not just a city for the ultra-Orthodox community. He pointed out that the new building project in Ramat Bet Shemesh A is designed specifically for the general Jewish population. Mayor Abutbul responded to a question from the steering committee, expressing his support for a special South African Building Project in the city, with unique discounts for South African Olim, similar to the well-known Telfed-Dimri building project in the city of Modi’in. The task was given to Telfed to investigate such a possibility.
The photo below shows the steering committee in the Beit Shemesh City Hall meeting room.
Sadly, this steering committee bid farewell to the Director of the local partnership, Gideon Vennor, staff member Naveh Yogev and Mateh Yehudah Chairman Ruku Sofer. Their farewell party, in the presence of the Mayor of Beit Shemesh, was also an opportunity to welcome in the new Director, Merav Shany and new Mateh Yehudah Chairman Tzion Gabay. Dorron Kline was the MC of the very moving evening.
Left to right: Tzion Gabay (Chairman – Mateh Yehudah Region), Gideon Vennor (outgoing Director), Mayor Moshe Abutbul, Dorron Kline (Telfed CEO) and Aviva Chalbi (Chairman - Beit Shemesh)
As the South African contingent bid farewell to their Israeli counterparts, it was clear that the intensive week had given many new ideas and much positive energy for the new P2G Director, Merav Shany, to build on. We wish her and the P2G team much success and Telfed is happy to continue playing a positive role in this wonderful partnership between South Africa and Israel.