Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Thank You Note from Elana Afrika

In South Africa I have the best of all worlds. I mean ALL worlds. I have a great Shul and community. I'm independent, I own properties, have great relationships with my Entertainment and Media Clients, and best of all...I have an extremely supportive family in Cape Town. My life here is perfect. But, being in media and entertainment and, working with more than 6 charity projects hardly prepared me for the journey that I was going to have when I finally left for Israel.

When writing in my diary on my bed one night last year August, I made a decision to make Israel the one place I have to visit before the end of 2011. I also made the decision that it won't just be a visit or travel like any tourist..I wanted something unique and chose Mayanot. I was born to Christian parents. I am Jewish and attend a Chabad shul and was ready for an experience that was different than the public life I had led up until then in South Africa where I host television and radio shows.

I traded my luxury car for a pair of Ugg boots that I would wear in Jerusalem that winter. I bought a new house a week before leaving for Israel, so that when get back to South Africa, I would move into a new home. I took the last post out of my postbox on the Monday, that Tuesday I resigned all my projects. I was a bridesmaid on the Wednesday and on the Thursday evening I left for Israel to settle in Katamon, Jerusalem.

Arriving in Israel and walking my first steps in the shuk, the hustle and bustle of Friday morning had me in awe. I knew everything was gonna be in order when, a man selling challa on the other side of his counter shouted at me, screaming, " Hey Janet Jackson! I love you!!".  It left me in hysterics! But not only that, I felt free to have my trendy Janet Jackson hairdoo in the best city in the world, surrounded by people who I could freely express myself to. I am Jewish ,and here, not even in the shuk, anyone questioned it. I was embraced. At Mayanot I attended lectures on Chassidus and learned from knowledgeable young women who knew the value of a lifestyle that is lead by Torah. I was, and until this day am extremely inspired. My lecturers were amazing. Being introduced to different topics and tours that I could only dream of, was real, and extremely hard to leave behind when having to head back to South Africa.

And then there were the woman who attended, who each have a different story and reason for attending Mayanot. Their stories would each be a script for a bestseller novel or billion dollar feature documentary film. I declared my "For me" moment. I expressed to the girls that when I head back to South Africa I am going to have a project that is "For me!" and made friends. Good friends.

I am back in South Africa. My community missed me. I tell them stories every week as a reminder of my time in Jerusalem. My new home is lovely. The postbox is filled with mails again, and my "for me" moment has arrived. I have learned that life starts from within before you can truly live it fully. I am living a few "For me" moments.  I'm delighted. It took a visit to Israel to show me what life is really about.

I will return next year, and the year after and beyond. Thank you, Mayanot.