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  • “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in …” Book of Numbers (27:16-17) | Photo: JAFI
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On the Other Side of Aliyah

Anna Klechenova - 26 January 2021

May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in … Book of Numbers (27:16-17).

The former oleh from France, Rafael Tsefati, hosts the religious olim-families in the kibbutz Sde Eliyahu.

The First Home in the Homeland program works with many kibbutzim over Israel. One of the few religious kibbutzim that hosts religious olim, Sde Eliyahu, is located in the Beit Shean Valley. It was founded in 1939 by olim from Germany and today it is home to more than two hundred families. Four of them are former and actual participants of the FH-program (more extended information about this kibbutz you can find here http://www.sde.org.il/Pages/12/About_Us).

We usually write about olim, but this article is dedicated to one of them, who is on the other side of aliyah, Rafael Tserfati, the representative of the Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu for the FH-Program.

He made aliyah from France in 1974 after the Fourth Arab-Israeli War (Yom Kippur War). About 10 years after graduating the ulpan, he was elected Chief Secretary of the kibbutz and was the first former ulpan student elected to this position.

“Thanks to Raphael, many former prisoners left behind their criminal past and embarked on a righteous path”

He promoted various social initiatives. For example, the rehabilitation of prisoners. After all, they really need support and faith in them. Thanks to Raphael, many former prisoners left behind their criminal past and embarked on a righteous path.

Another of his initiatives was to stimulate family aliyah directly to the kibbutz. “All these years I have seen the importance of aliyah. For me it is very important, that olim feel confident and safe enough to come to Israel and stay here”, Rafael says.

“I consider the first year as the most important. Let’s say critical, for their future life in Israel”, Rafael recalls. The fact that all the olim families, who stayed for one year in the kibbutz, were able to find good jobs and became active members of the Israeli society, shows that the program fulfills its purpose”.

During the past five years families from France, Argentina, Germany and Great Britain made aliyah to Sde Eliyahu. Most of them moved to cities, but they still maintain the connection with the kibbutz and personally with Rafael.

Rafael cares about olim “like about his own kids” (he has 7 sons and 1 daughter). “I don’t mind receiving a telephone call in the middle of the night, solve their problems and give olim families the feeling that we care about them every moment and that we are here to facilitate their “smooth and soft” absorption,” Rafael says. The olim treat him as their own father as well, sharing with him all their celebrations and other important moments of their life.

“That all the olim families were able to find good jobs and became active members of the Israeli society, shows that the program fulfills its purpose”

Let’s pray that Rafael will stay healthy, full of strength and energy, and continues to represent our program in the kibbutz Sde Eliyahu for many years. Indeed, it is thanks to people like him that the olim find in Israel not only the “first home”, but also the “first family”.

Please support the “First Home in the Homeland” Project. Any amount is welcome!
Assisting a family in the “First Home” program costs € 230 euro / US $ 250 a month

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