Rank & File: South African Ambassador to Israel Reaches Out

Friendship Circle Jerusalem rounds the bases; ESRA holding benefit concert.

Steven Klein
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South African Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngobane meeting
with Telfed executive members in Tel Aviv this week. Telfed
South African Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngobane meeting with Telfed executive members in Tel Aviv this week. Credit: Telfed
Steven Klein

Putting out fires: South Africa is showing more of an interest in improving its relations with Israel since Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold visited the country this month, according to leaders of Telfed, the South African Zionist Federation in Israel. “We told Dore Gold, let’s work together. Let’s have a ‘firefighting’ team to deal with all the burning issues,” South African Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngobane said in a meeting this week with Telfed chairman Maish Isaacson, vice chairman Batya Shmukler and CEO Dorron Kline. Ngobane added that despite “elements that loudly proclaim that we should not meet with Israeli government officials, we disagree. We will talk to both sides if we feel this will advance peace and cooperation.”

Rounding the bases: Friendship Circle Jerusalem, which brings together volunteers and children with special needs, hosted its first Buddy Baseball game in the capital yesterday. The event was the brainchild of Dean Klassman, who founded the first Buddy Baseball game in Chicago. “We do not keep score, every player gets a hit,” Klassman said about the game’s atmosphere. “He contacted us saying he was coming to Israel and wanted to do something special,” Ora Wiener, who volunteers for Friendship Circle as part of her national service and helped organize the logistics on the Israeli side, told Haaretz. Wiener, who moved to Israel from Riverdale, New York with her family when she was 3, said 200 people participated. “It was emotional and heartwarming,” said the mother of one of the players. “The smiles could be felt across the baseball field.”

Dean Klassman and children participating in the Buddy Baseball game on Thursday.Credit: Ora Wiener

Benefit concert: For years, ESRA, the English Speaking Residents Association, has helped needy families in Netanya through its Hand in Hand Food Pantry project. When Nelly Perry was first approached to do something for the project, in 2008 she reached back into her experience in England organizing events and occasional concerts, the native of London’s Mill Hill told Haaretz. She was able to recruit composer and concert pianist Gil Shohat, whom she had known for years. “I got the impression he thought it was a one-off,” Perry recalled. Instead, the concert has become an annual tradition that will continue Sunday evening in Herzliya Pituah. All proceeds benefit needy families in Netanya. She added there has been a waiting list since the concert sold out in mid-February.

Rank and File was compiled
by Steven Klein.
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