Tikkun olam is the moving force behind Project TEN

  • Project TEN logo HOME.jpeg
“After my first experience of a township (in South Africa), I knew that Project TEN was something that the Jewish Agency and the South African Jewish community could do to make a difference for underprivileged communities in South Africa,” said Israel Centre shaliach Aviad Sela at the arrival of a group of young Israelis in Durban.
by ANT KATZ | Nov 10, 2016

The Project TEN concept is based on Jewish volunteers who come for three-month rotations to the country -  young dynamic Jews who want to make the world a better place, says Sela. They pay their own way and simply want to do something to improve the world.

jafi - aviad“While we may not have the scale,” says Sela, “Jews and Israel have incredible values to give. Every time there is a mass disaster in the world, be it in Haiti or Nepal, the question is always who will be the second to be there,” he says, as Israelis are always the first responders on the ground.

head Aviad Sela

The idea for Project TEN Durban is to integrate with southern African non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and assist them in any way possible to be more effective in delivering services to the most underprivileged societies.

Sela says it has taken time to plan the project, make the connections and put things together. “But,” he adds, “all the while the NGOs we approached were very excited.” This, he says, is one of the major contributions that world and local Jewry can offer the world at large.

“By contributing something… investing in assets, in people, in finance, and in effort. We are not a profit-based entity. We invest in giving tikkun olam. We are not expecting any return other than making people’s lives better.”

Project TEN logo.jpegThis is a completely new environment for Yarden Zornberg, Project TEN's director since its founding in 2012. He is more accustomed to setting up shop in the jungles of Mexico or the deserts in India. Far from communal support.

Durban, says Sela, offered JAFI (Jewish Agency for Israel) a destination where there was a need, offered a good environment for volunteers to work in and enjoy their spare time together as Jews from different places around the world and close to a Jewish community.

“If we find a need and a specialist like a water engineer or a doctor which will add value to the community,” says Sela, they will bring them out. Setting up the programme has involved networking with local NGOs.

“The entire purpose of this project is based on tikkun olam,” emphasises Sela. “It is not advocacy, not hasbarah or politics. We just want to share what our heritage has taught us, namely to help those less privileged than ourselves.

“I feel so happy to see that my organisation that represents world Jewry, the Jewish Agency, is sharing our caring and helping culture with southern Africa.”

Apart from Durban, the JA runs similar projects in Uganda, Ghana, Mexico and in two Bedouin communities in Israel. The first cohort of Jewish help arrived last week.


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