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Inspired by Sylvia Raphael

The South African Expat community in Israel can look with pride at the wide diversity of fields in which they have added to everyday life in Israel, during the 70 years of the existence of Telfed, and even before that, during the 30 years of the pre-state British Mandate era. 

South Africans have made a huge contribution in the spheres of medicine, politics, jurisprudence, business and economic activity, sport, kibbutz and moshav establishment, industry and much more (too numerous to mention). Over and above these are the services rendered by South Africans in the murky clandestine world of organisations such as the Mossad, which we very rarely hear about, unless there is a spectacular success or failure. That is precisely how the world came to know about the exploits of Sylvia Raphael, a daughter of South Africa in whom we can take immense pride.

While Telfed has previously arranged regular annual memorial services for Sylvia at her graveside, we decided that this year, being Telfed’s 70th birthday, warranted more of a gala-type event. The memorial was held on 12 July 2018, at Protea Village, which was quite fitting with its strong South African connection and large expat community in residence.

We were hosted by Bennie Katzman, chairman of the Protea Village Residents Committee who also acted as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. The audience was entertained by the Eitz Chaim Choir under the direction of Moshe Cohen, with solo performances by recent Oleh, Barry Braun. The audience was welcomed on behalf of Telfed by Events Committee Chairman, Peter Bailey, who reminisced about the amazing contribution that South African Expats in general, and Sylvia Raphael in particular, have made to life in Israel. Dave Kaplan, who has conducted in-depth research into Sylvia Raphael’s exciting life, gave an introduction to the documentary. Tracing Blood deals with Sylvia’s life, looking at the event that took her from being an anonymous Mossad operative to an internationally recognised secret agent whose cover had been broken. This documentary certainly tells an amazing tale of courage and fortitude.

The audience was treated to further choral renditions by Moshe and his choir, while Barry Braun intoned a deeply moving Haskarrah in memory of all fallen Mossad agents who have served this wonderful country. Following the screening of Tracing Blood, Dave Kaplan spoke about Sylvia to reiterate what had been witnessed on the silver screen. Harris Green, chairman of the Telfed 70th Committee, closed the event by thanking all those who had participated in the event, as well as the organisers (with a special mention to Dana Ben Chail).  The evening ended on a great note with the singing of Hatikvah, led by Moshe Cohen and the choir.

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