Aliyah is hard, but so fulfilling, says Trevor Shaff
PHOTOGRAPH BY SUZANNE BELLING
“I was at the peak of my life when my wife Susan and I made this sudden decision to go,” Shaff told SA Jewish Report in Israel.
That was six years ago. “I was in my early forties at the time and felt as if I were king of the world, but Susan and I were not deterred.”
Shaff followed in the footsteps of Russell Kaye, former national head of the CSO in South Africa and Brett Roome, who was in charge of the CSO in Durban.
“I can’t believe I did this and now I never want to go back to live in South Africa,” said this father of three – David (21), Sarah (18) and Jason (14).
The family have made their home in Modi’in, a developing city in the middle of the country and are happy with their choice. “We have a large flat and a big garden. Life is not easy – it is a different culture. I speak Hebrew, but have some problems with the language, like not being able to understand adverts on the billboards.
“Sometimes I think it is all a dream and I will wake up back in Cape Town.”
With Shaff’s reputation in his field, he had no problems finding a job in Israel – with MIP Security – a large security company.
“My first project was to advise all the hospitals how to better protect themselves against attacks. Dialysis patients were moved to more inaccessible places in the building and premature babies were never placed near windows.
“In fact it I was at Tel Hashomer Hospital during Operation Protective Edge, giving advice, when the hospital was attacked and this underscored the necessity of the security measures.”
Shaff was also seconded to Sydney, Australia, to advise the Jewish community there on security and worked with the country’s Jewish Community Group, which is similar to the CSO in South Africa.
“MIP works closely with the Jewish community with regard to the physical security of all the communal installations.”
In 2011 Shaff was approached by the Bank of Kenya to be a senior security consultant. “The Kenyans were not that security conscious and admired the Israeli security.”
For a while Shaff spent three weeks of every month in Kenya and his help was invaluable, especially after the terror attacks perpetrated by Al Shabaab, the terror organisation which carried out, among other atrocities, an attack on a busy shopping mall.
“That’s when I really learnt what it was like to be out in the field as their man in Nairobi.”
While in Kenya, Shaff spent many a Friday night with his South African friend Steve Felder, managing director of Maersk, East Africa, Steve’s wife Devorah and their family.
Now Shaff has returned to his job with MIP Security in Israel and family life – at least for now. His wife Susan, who teaches English in a public school, recently was made head of the English department at her school.