SA leaders took gift of peace to Jerusalem

  • Forman Reeva
The Jewish Agency for Israel’s (JAFI) chairman Natan Sharansky last week played host to a delegation of two senior African Christian leaders accompanied by SA Friends of Israel’s (SAFI) Reeva Forman in Jerusalem. The trio had travelled to Israel to present Sharansky with a gift of support for the Holy Land on behalf of millions of Christian supporters of Israel across Africa.
by ANT KATZ | Aug 03, 2016

Also present was the Jewish Agency for Israel’s (JAFI) South African shaliach (representative), Aviad Sela, who made all the arrangements after Forman had advised the Christian leaders that JAFI was the best avenue through which they could give a gift to Israel and world Jewry.

The Jewish Agency for Israel’s (JAFI) chairman, Natan Sharansky last week in Jerusalem played host to a delegation of two African Christian leaders accompanied by SA Friends of Israel’s (SAFI) Reeva Forman. The trio had travelled to Israel to present Sharansky with an award on behalf of millions of Christian supporters of Israel across Africa.

Reeva hilow low“Apostle Linda Gobodo told me she wanted to take a message of peace from South Africa and all African Christians who support Israel,” explains Forman about how the visit came to be.

The gift to Israel and world Jewry from African supporters CREDIT: AVI MAYER, JAFI


Their support for Israel, explained Forman, was “not only prophetically, but also in their appreciation of Israel’s role in Africa’s development”.

And so Gobodo approached Forman, who she knows well from both Forman’s SAFI and SAZF activities, and asked her to whom she recommends the plaque be given.

Reeva hilow3

LEFT: Sharansky cannot hide his joy as he inspects the plaque with Linda Gobodo and Reeva Forman. PHOTO CREDIT: AVI MAYER, JAFI

Forman didn't hesitate to recommend Sharansky in his capacity as head of JAFI, the Israeli NGO primarily responsible for the immigration and absorption of Jews as well as for connecting all Jews to Israel and each other.

Reeva told Jewish Report Online on her return that he was “the only person in Israel who represents all Jewish people in the world” – across all streams of Judaism and across political party lines.

Gobodo made it clear that she didn’t want it to be (a) political (gesture) and she wanted it to be as inclusive as possible.

Reeva hilow low

RIGHT: From left, Pastor Olusegun (Segun) Olanipekun, JAFI Chairman Natan Sharansky, Apostle Linda Gobodo and Reeva Forman CREDIT: AVI MAYER, JAFI

After Gobodo’s approach, Forman broached it with shaliach Aviad Sela at the Israel Centre, JAFI’s chief representative in South Africa, who loved the idea. The Jewish Agency (JA) in South Africa operates in Johannesburg and Cape Town as “The Israel Centre”.

Sela set up a meeting with his boss, Sharansky. And it happened last week.

“It was all Linda’s initiative,” says Forman, “and she even raised the funds for the trip, including the cost for me to accompany them.”

Ideal timing: Africa/Israel relations expand rapidly

Apostle Gobodo is founder of the Vuka Africa Foundation, and Nigerian-born Pastor Olanipekun, is founder of the Institute for Christian Leadership Development in Pretoria.

Reeva hilow1Gobodo told Sharansky that, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said: “Israel is returning to Africa and Africa is returning to Israel.”

In 2014, she told him, Vuka was part of organising the largest rally in the world to support Israel during the summer conflict with Hamas.

It was also the largest pro-Israel rally ever to take place in Africa.

“We want you to know that there are millions of people in Africa who love, support, and pray for Israel.”

Olanipekun told the Israelis that his organisation believes that “Africa’s future depends on our connection to Israel. We have a great deal to learn from the Israeli people and we believe that we have a great deal to offer in return.”

Reeva hilow2They said they looked forward “to returning to Israel with dozens of leaders from across Africa for the third Africa Leadership Summit in Jerusalem in 2017,” said Olanipekun.

JAFI's South African shaliach Aviad Sela with Reeva Forman

JAFI’s international media
spokesman told Jewish Report that Sharansky “fondly recalled meeting with Nelson Mandela in 1990 and serving as an observer during the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994”.

That the African spiritual leaders had come to Jerusalem with an offering of peace was “deeply moving”, said an emotional Sharansky. “We need to pay more attention to the inspiring voices coming from Africa.”

The chairman discussed JAFI’s work in Africa, including project centres in Gondar, Ethiopia; and Winneba, Ghana, and told his guests that a third will be opening in Durban later this year.

Read all about them on this website

At the end of the meeting, he accepted his guests’ invitation to address the third Africa Leadership Summit next year in Jerusalem.


Sharansky with VladimirSharansky wants all Jews to make aliyah, but doesn't believe they should be forced to. Read this interesting Exclusive Interview “I don’t want to be the Commissar of Aliyah” after Sharansky last year when he sat down for an hour with SAJR’s Ant Katz at his Sandton hotel. Sharansky’s key message to SA Jewry: “How long is there a future for Jews in SA? You must decide. If you want to come (to Israel), we will welcome you.” But, he added, JAFI would support and strengthen Jewish life in the diaspora for those who chose to remain. Read his views on tackling anti-Semitism and a host of different issues.



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