South Africans by birth, but proud Israelis by choice
PHOTOGRAPH BY SUZANNE BELLING
Gillian Benatar (nee Flax) grew up in Cape Town and was a keen member of Habonim Dror. She came to Israel in 1971, met her former Rhodesian (now Zimbabwean) husband Vic on Kibbutz Yizre’el and they settled in Ra’anana. Fifteen years later, they moved to Alfei Menashe “on the Green Line” and have stayed there ever since.
“This is my home. I have two sons, three grandchildren and one on the way. I teach English privately and I love it here,” she said.
Former Capetonian sisters Freda Shuster and Tessia Gordin (nee Levin) both live on Kibbutz Gan Shmuel.
RIGHT: Gillian Benatar
Freda went to Israel as a volunteer in June 1967 (“I stayed in Netanya and picked bananas!”). But she also picked her husband Ben Ami Shuster, brought him to Cape Town where they were married.
They have lived on the kibbutz for 48 years and have four children and three grandchildren. “I miss Cape Town, but my home is here,” says Freda.
In spite of a divorce and tragedy (Tessia lost her daughter Jacqui in a motor accident) she is happy living on the same kibbutz as her sister since 1975. Her other daughter, Tali Bitton, lives with her husband and three children at Sde Boker. Tessia works with the elderly, using a computer programme to improve memory.
A newer olah is Reva Rudolph, who arrived four years ago with her husband Professor Harold Rudolph. They were mayor and mayoress of Johannesburg in the city’s centenary year.
STORY CONTINUES BELOW PICTURE
Expats meet in Israel. Back: Natan Shalom; Michael Jankelowitz; Reva Rudolph; Tessia Gordin; Martin Furman; Linky Furman; and Monty Nussbaum. Front: Shirley Shalom; Riva Migdal; Hilda Stern; Freda Shushte; and Sheila Nussbaum
“We came here because three of our four sons had made Israel their home. I have always wanted to live in Israel and love it in Ra’anana and have made many friends. I do not miss South Africa but have been back a few times to see family and friends whom I do miss.”
Reva hasn’t quite mastered Hebrew, but copes very well with English – especially in Ra’anana, often dubbed “Ra’ananafontein” because of the many South Africans living there.
Shirley and Natan Shalom (he was active in the CSO in Cape Town) made aliyah 11 years ago. “It was not enough to see our six grandchildren in Israel only once a year,” say this couple who have settled happily in Netanya.
Riva and Cecil Migdal made aliyah 28 years ago. “We built our own house in Zur Yigal, where we lived for 17 years, sold it and now live in Ra’anana.” Two of their three children live in Israel, while one son is in London.
Martin and Linky Furman came to settle in Israel 40 years ago and spent two years on Moshav Kfar Daniel.
Martin, whose father was in the poultry business in the Cape, has spent the last 37 years as a poultry farmer on Moshav Timorim. Linky taught English in a government school. They are now retired, with three married children and 11 grandchildren “all living within an eight kilometre radius of our moshav”.
Former Glenhazelites Monty and Sheila Nussbaum, who made aliyah two years ago, are the newest olim in the group. “We always wanted to live in Israel to spend time with our children and grandchildren. We love it.
“However, we do miss our family and good friends in South Africa.”
Hilda Stern, who worked for two Jewish organisations in Cape Town, had no problems finding a job in Jerusalem. She left eight years ago to join her children and grandchildren.
Hilda works for Honest Reporting and lives in Modi’in. She misses South Africa and is coming on a return visit for two months in July and August to see her brothers in Johannesburg and Cape Town and to attend her high school reunion.
Michael Jankelowitz, formerly of Port Elizabeth, has lived in Jerusalem since 1972. He is the retired spokesman for international media at the Jewish Agency, where he worked for 35 years.
Michael recently lost his wife Denise, from Luxembourg , whom he met in Rome at a Jewish students’ conference. He has two children.
“In Israel it is easy to live a full Jewish life – no problems with kashrut or taking leave for Jewish holidays. Israel is yours – it is part of you.
“I can only recommend to young people that it is a practical option for your future. There is an international atmosphere, with young people from all over the world.”