Michael Manhaim’s five-year term as executive director of Hatzofim (Israeli Scouts) Australia and Garin Tzabar Australia-Pacific began amid bushfires, floods and then COVID lockouts.
But it ended last week with incredible memories, moving farewell receptions in Sydney and Melbourne hosted by scouts and a sense of pride in playing a central role in both organisations’ growth on our shores.
Under Manhaim’s leadership, Hatzofim’s Melbourne (Shevet Onnot) and northern Sydney (Shevet Shahar) chapters bolstered their programs and camps, and a second Sydney chapter was established earlier this year in the city’s eastern suburbs and a new partnership with BJE NSW.
Manhaim told The AJN it’s been heartening to see that momentum realised and said further expansion is on the way.
“One of my last duties was visiting Perth, to start Hatzofim small program offerings there,” Manhaim said.
“That followed earlier visits to Adelaide and Brisbane, and now we’re receiving strong interest in Canberra and Byron Bay.”
Manhaim recalled how when he first arrived in Australia on an initial three-year contract, he knew little about it, “but very soon, when I met people, I realised how it is the most warm, Zionist and supportive Jewish community I’ve ever seen”.
He added, Hatzofim “should not be seen as only a youth movement, but a means to strengthen and support Israeli-Australian families to maintain and to share their Israeli culture”.
“The Israeli community here wants to engage with and be more included in, the broader Australian Jewish community.
“This is happening more, it’s great to see and my successor [to be announced soon], will continue to work with the whole community.”