“Thousands of South African olim have benefited and established themselves in Israel owing to the foresight and vision of Eliot Osrin and his personal generosity. In fact, many of them are not aware of the debt of gratitude that they owe to Eliot.” These were the opening words of Sid Shapiro, former Director of Telfed (SAZF, Israel) at a special ceremony celebrating Eliot’s life, on the anniversary of the Shloshim.
Members of the Southern African community in Israel were invited to join the organization in paying respects to the Cape Town community leader, “a man so consistently kind, calm, strong, loving and loved” (his grandson’s remark).
Community members came from all over the country and were greeted by Chairman Maish Isaacson, who spoke of the crucial role Eliot played in Telfed’s history, encouraging philanthropic families to establish trust funds under the organization’s administration, which allowed for the charitable application of income generated. In addition, he ensured that Telfed received annual contributions from some of the Cape Town trusts, which collectively provided a sound financial backing for the many services Telfed undertakes on behalf of the SA community in Israel.
This was followed with prayers led by Rav Dorron Kline (CEO), the recitation of Kaddish and lighting of a memorial candle.
Visibly moved, former Director Sid Shapiro shared some of his memories and interactions with Eliot over the years, recalling how he “often felt there was a certain injustice to his anonymity, although this is exactly how he wanted it, being such a modest person.” He continued: “To me, Eliot was always an inspiration, a wise counsel, a mentor and friend... We will all miss his smile, his sense of humour, his uplifting joyfulness, his sincerity, a most of all we will miss a very, very dear friend.”
Those in attendance had the opportunity to share their recollections, and Abel Levitt (Former Chairman of the United Herzlia Schools, and a family friend for nearly 50 years) spoke of his experiences and memories, concluding that “it is up to us to ensure that the names of Eliot Osrin and Myra, both visionaries and social entrepreneurs, will not only be on buildings in Israel and Cape Town, but that their life’s work be an inspiration to the future leaders of our people, in South Africa, Israel and beyond.”
Martin Lewak – who served as Telfed’s Financial Comptroller in the past, suggested to the leadership of the organisation to consider setting up a fund in Eliot’s memory, which could be used to assist Southern Africans in Israel for many years to come, as a way of ensuring that his name is immortalised in Israel.
The film shown during the evening (“Five Decades of Community Service”) offered a touching and detailed overview of the Osrins’ communal involvement over the years, and re-iterated Myra’s part in their charitable endeavours. The role of the power couple was perhaps best summed up by Michael Lewis of London: “What he did was done with no fuss, no ego and with a practical common sense approach that not only brought results, but endeared him to everyone. Eliot was above all else a team player. Nowhere was this more evident than the team formed by him and Myra. She is a heroine both for her achievements and the way she cared for Eliot, and the intense support she gives to her children and grandchildren. Together they rocked the communal and philanthropic world in the only way that counts, changing people’s lives for the better.”
Tributes prepared by family members were displayed at the entrance, as well as from leading Cape Town community organizations. In closing, Rav Dorron spoke about the fact that the Kaddish prayer does not mention the dearly departed, but bestows upon us to make G-d’s name great – “Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba”. Eliot’s passing has left a huge vacuum and Dorron invited the community to follow his legacy, by bringing goodness back to the world to fill the void he left behind, and in so doing, exalting HaShem’s name. The evening ended with the crowd rising to sing “Hatikva”, the Israeli national anthem.
Eliot will surely be missed and forever remembered.