Jewish Press of Pinellas County

Africa Part 3 – Hope

 

 

The word HOPE can be used as a noun or a verb. It can be a proper noun. It can be an active or transitive verb meaning to cherish a desire with anticipation.

A highlight of my African experience was meeting with both the former Tanzanian ambassador to Israel, Job Masomo, and the current Israeli ambassador to Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, and Seychelles, Michael Lotem.

I have a cousin in Ra’anana, Israel. A few weeks before I left on my trip he mentioned to me that he used to play golf with an African ambassador at a golf course in Caesarea. What are the odds that it could be the ambassador that I would meet? Job Masomo is a gentle giant who immediately recalled the golf games with my cousin. We met at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Dar Es Salam in the beginning of my trip. He and Nermine Rubin of Water 4 Mercy have a wonderful working relationship.

Ambassador Masomo had an integral role in the collaboration of the Israeli technology and African educational institutions comprising Water 4 Mercy’s mission. Recently retired, he is spending his days back in Tanzania traveling between his family homesteads. He accompanied us to the villages in Dodoma and witnessed the transformative force of technology combined with determination. His dedication to the well-being of the people in Tanzania is palpable. He has hope.

Ambassador Michael Lotem met with us at an open-air market in Nairobi. I presented him with a hard-bound copy of Seth Siegel’s best-selling book, “Let There be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World.” The technologies described in Siegel’s book are the catalyst for the success of the agricultural projects happening now in Africa. We sat drinking tea and eating Lebanese salads, exchanging stories and learning more about the connection of Israel to the African countries under his purview. Deeply concerned for sustainable physical and economic health of the African people, Ambassador Lotem is eager to share Israeli know-how and technology in order to constantly improve and fine-tune the process. He has hope.

We spent Shabbat in the city of Arusha, having dinner at the home of Yehuda Amir Kahalani, who is a rabbi, a lawyer, and college professor as well as being the leader of the Jewish community. Rabbi Yehuda welcomed us warmly and introduced us to his family and a few members of the community. We came with gifts of tefillin and siddurim from a lovely woman in Tampa who has connections with Yehuda and the Jewish community in Arusha. Ma’ariv service was held in the small chapel on the other side of the driveway. Nermine and I observed from the slightly elevated “balcony” in the rear of the chapel. There were beautiful carpet mats on the floor rather than chairs or pews. The mixture of Swahili, Hebrew, and Aramaic prayers was mesmerizing. We spoke about the difficulties faced being Jewish in Africa and how they compared to being Jewish in Florida’s Gulf Coast. And we also spoke about the joys of observing Judaism and the beauty and universality of Shabbat dinner. Candles. Challah. Wine. Some of the melodies were a bit different, but the feeling was the same. Yehuda is determined to create a vibrant Jewish community in Arusha. He has hope.

Water 4 Mercy provides water, food, and hope to remote African villages. I saw it with my own eyes. My life is changed from this trip. My appreciation for safe water to drink, plentiful, nutritious food to eat, and the freedom to hope is never-ending. Water. Food. Hope.

Please feel free to reach out to me at the Federation office, on social media, or email – mkaufman@jewishgulfcoast.org.

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