You are here

Story of Sinai Rome

Sinai and Beverley Rome
 
I was born in Braamfontein, Johannesburg in 1923, and went to the Spes Bona primary school in Braamfontein from 1929 till 1934.  I then entered Parktown Boys' High School, where I studied from 1935 till 1939, obtaining my Junior Certificate in the First Class in 1937 and my Matriculation Certificate in the First Class, with three distinctions (Latin, Mathematics and Physical Science) in 1939.  
 
In 1940 I began my studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg for my B.A. degree, receiving scholarships each year which fully covered all my university fees. After three years I graduated as a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Classics (Latin & Greek) and receiving a First Class pass in 11 out of the 14 subjects I studied for my degree.
I spent 1943 at the Transvaal Education Department's Teachers Training College in Johannesburg, receiving my Transvaal Teacher's Diploma.
 
I taught for the Transvaal Education Department during 1944, at the Sir John Adamson High School in the southern suburbs of Johannesburg.
 
In 1945 my former Professor in the Classics Department of the University of the Witwatersrand, Professor T.J.Haarhoff, invited me to return to the Department as Tutor (and later as Temporary Lecturer) in Latin.  I was happy to accept his invitation, and taught Latin in the Department for the next three years.
 
At the suggestion of Mr David Mierovsky, Director of the Transvaal Board of Hebrew Education, I returned to my academic studies, in Hebrew, in order to become a Hebrew teacher for the Board, and in 1946  I received my B.A. (Honours) degree in Hebrew at the University of the Witwatersrand.
 
During 1946 and 1947 I taught for the Board of Hebrew Education as Principal of the Parkview-Greenside Hebrew School in Johannesburg.
 
When Habonim was founded in South Africa, I was in one of the first gedudim, called Gedud Gibor, in 1933.  I participated in the Habonim Camps held in Lakeside, Cape Town in 1937, and the one at Nahoon, East London in 1941.   
 
 
Sinai Rome in 1948
 
When the Jewish poulation of Braamfontein dwindled to the extent that it could no longer support a Habonim gedud, I moved into the field of Hashtilim, and became the Shatal of a Mashtela based at the Wolmarans Street synagogue in Joubert Park, Johannesburg.  
By this time I had become very involved in the Zionist Youth movemrnt.  As the Movement was organized on party lines, and I had always been a General Zionist, when the United Zionist Party was founded in 1944, I joined it and became a member of its Execurive.
Habonim by this time had developed a Socialist orientation, and not being in agreement with this orientation, the United Zionist Party decided to create its own youth movement, which we named Bnei Zion.  
 
Mervyn Isaacson and I founded Bnei Zion in 1945, and I was honoured to be chosen as its first Menahel.  Those were busy years, preparing the groundwork for the movement, deciding on a uniform and writing the necessary handbooks.  In the meantime I was elected to the Transvaal Zionist Youth Execurive, and was electedd as its Chairman in 1947.
By the end of 1947, however, I knew that early in 1948 I was due to leave for Palestine, as I had been selected to be one of the 25 Zionist Youth leaders from the Diaspora who had been chosen to attend the 2nd course of the Jewish Agency for Palestine's School for Diplomats, set up to train diplomats for the future Jewish state.
 
When it became clear however, that the second course of the School for Diplomats would not be able to take place (it was due to open on the 14th  of May 1948!), I came to Israel anyway, as a foreign volunteer (Machal) for Israel’s War of Independence,having been enlisted into the Codes & Ciphers Dept. of the Israel Air Force, where I served as adjutant to the Commander of the Department, with the rank of First Sergeant.
 
In July1949  I was demobilized from the Israel Defence Forces.  The Director of the Jewish Agency's first School for Diplomats, Dr. Walter Eytan, had in the meantime become the Director General of Israel's Foreign Ministry, and as the second course of the School for Diplomats had not been able to take place because of the War of Independence, he decided that as only 6 of the 25 candidates who had been accepted for the second course had come to Israel anyway (and I was one of them), those six would be accepted into the Foreign Minhistry and "learn diplomacy on the job", as they had not been able , through no fault of their own, to participate in the second course which never took place.
 
 
 
I started my diplomatic career in May 1949, although I had not yet been demobilized from the I.D.F., in a post similar to the one I had filled in the Air Force, as adjutant to the Director of the Department of Codes and Ciphers in the Foreign Ministry.
 
At the end of February 1950  I took leave  from the Ministry to go back to South Africa, to marry Malka Gans, of Woodstock, Capetown, and on our return to Israel at the end of March, we settled in our flat in Jan Smuts Boulevard in Tel Aviv.  We later had a son, Michael, born in 1956.
 
In 1952 I learned that Israel was planning to open its first Embassy in Rio de Janeiro, which was then still the capital of Brazil.  I asked to be included in the staff being sent there, and was delighted to be appointed Second Secretary and Consul, in what may well be the most beautiful city in the world.  In order to have a completely Hebrew name, I Hebraized my first name from Sydney to Sinai.
 
I served there from  March 1952 until October 1954, when I was recalled to Israel to be one of the Foreign Ministry's three candidates to participate in a year-long study course in the field of Political Science at the Allenby Barracks in Jerusalem, under the auspices of the Prime Minister's Office, together with representatives of the I.D.F., the Israel Police and Israel's Secret Services.
 
On my return to the Foreign Ministry I served in the Economic and African & Asian Divisions until November 1958, when I was appointed to our Embassy in Santiago, Chile, where I served for two years, until November 1960, when I was transferred to our Embassy in Havana, Cuba.  This was shortly after Fidel Castro had came to power, and I was in Havana during the unsuccessful invasion sponsored by the United States at the Bay of Pigs.
I returned to Jerusalem in May 1961, to serve  as Director of the courses  for foreign trainees in the International Cooperation Division, on whose behalf I also participated in  missions to Sardinia and Cyprus, until December 1964, when I was appointed First Secretary at our Embassy in Mexico City and, as in my previous postings in Chile and Cuba, as Deputy Chief of Mission, serving as Chargé d'Affaires, or acting Ambassador, in the Ambassador's absence.
 
While serving in Mexico, I was appointed Chargé d'Affaires at our Embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay, during a change of Ambassadors there, from July till September 1965.
In May 1967 I was transferred to our Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, as Counsellor and DCM, until Ocober 1968, when  our Ambassador to Canada, Aryeh Eshel, died suddenly one night, and I became Chargé d'Affaires, or acting Ambassador, for almost half a year, until a new Ambassador arrived.  In October 1969 I returned to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.  I served as Deputy Director of the Director General's Office until August 1972, when I was appointed Deputy Director of the International Organizations Division.  In this capacity I was a member of Israel's delegations to conferences of the International Red Cross in in Teheran, Iran, and in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1973and 1974, and to two  international conferences on the Protection of the Mediterranean, held in Barcelona, Spain in January 1975 (as Head of the Israeli delegation) and again in February 1975.  In January and February of 1973f the United Jewish Appeal in the Unites States invited me to go on  a lecture tour for them to the Jewish communities in Kansas City ( Kansas), St. Louis (Missouri) and Miami (Florida).
 
In May 1976 I was appointed Ambassador Plenipotentary and Extraordinary of Israel to Ecuador and served in this capacity, in its capital, Quito, until August 1979. 
On my return to Israel I was appointed Director of the Public Relations Division of the Foreign Ministry,  and in February 1981 was appointed, in addition to that post, as Acting Director of the Ministry’s Information Division, and served in that capacity until my appointment as Consul General of Israel in London in May 1981, where I was stationed until July 1986.
 
Before leaving for London I graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with an M.A. degree (with distinction) in Romance Philology.
 
I had been divorced in 1978, and In 1983 I  married Beverley Magonet, of Harley Street, London. 
 
My son Michael came to live with me when I was appointed to the Embassy in London.  He has a Bachelor's degree  in Electrical Engineering from the Technion in Haifa, and started his professional career  with General Electric (UK) soon after arriving in London.   In 1988 he married Heather Freirich, of New York, and they have two children: Joshua, born in 1992, and Olivia, born in 1998.  Michael has settled in the UK, and he and his family live in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  Michael is presently the Sales Manager for Europe and Asia of the German company XFab Semiconductor Foundries AG.
 
On returning to Israel in 1986, I served as Director of the Human Rights Division of the Foreign Ministry until my retirement in 1988, with the rank of Ambassador.  
 
Sinai Rome  srome@netvision.net.il 
 

Sign up to receive our Newsletter

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Advertisement