Making Aliyah – at 96!

August 28, 2012 by Henry Benjamin
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Lily Hyde is making Aliyah to Israel….at the age of 96.

Zionist Council of NSW president Richard Balkin presents Lily Hyde with her documents    pic: Henry Benjamin

A resident in Sydney’s Montefiore Home in Randwick for the last five years, Lily will join her son and his family in the Holy Land where she will celebrate her 97th birthday with her family in Raanana on September 26. Lily Hyde is the oldest Australian ever to have made Aliyah.

Her 68-yr-old son Robert told J-Wire: “My wife Gillian and I made Aliyah in 2010……although we continued to make frequent trips back to Sydney for business and of course, to see Mum. She took ill recently and we thought of her on her own and I made enquiries with an aged care home in Herzliya and booked her a room.

For the staff at the State Zionist Council of NSW Aliyah division, things proved hectic. Shoshanna Vitek said: “We were told Robert wanted to take her to Israel on twenty fours’ notice. We had had preliminary paperwork in place but they wanted to leave on Wednesday so we managed to work with Israel and get all the necessary paperwork taken care of in less than 24 hours.

In Israel, Lily will meet up with her two children and their families and will meet one great grandchild she has yet to see.”

Lily told J-Wire: “I am a frequent traveller and arrange all my own flights so I have had many trips to see my family.”

Showing the mezzuza she will take to Israel to Aliyah Shaliach Assaf Lapid, Shoshanna Vitek, Lily Hyde, Richard Balkin, Robert Hyde, SZCNSW exec director Lynn Niselow pic: Henry Benjamin

Waiting for her arrival in Tel Aviv will be Robert’s wife Gillian, their daughter Jacqui Hochenberg, 39, her husband Amichai and children twins Ori and Galad, 11, Edan 8 and Kiana 4 and their daughter Liza Kramer together with husband Saul and children Eytan, 8, Shay 5, and Edie 2.

For Lily, who has visited Israel three times in the last five years, it will be the first time she meets Edie.

She emigrated fromPretoria in her native South Africa to Australia 15 years ago.

Durban-born Lily Hyde told J-Wire: “When I was a little girl in South Africa I went to eight different schools so I didn’t have much opportunity to develop lasting friendships. I married my husband when I was 20 and he was 31 so he treated me like a little girl.”

Lily studied music and became a music teacher working in a Jewish orphanage in Johannesburg. She told J-Wire: “I played every day in the Monte but not for others because I spent a lot of time practising.”

A lover of classical music, Lily’s music books will hold a special place in the possessions she takes with her to Israel.

Shoshanna Vitek added: “Making Aliya has everything to do with the Law of Return which automatically grants Israeli citizenship to Jews in the Diaspora. Like all others, Lily had to furnish us with the appropriate evidence and assure us that she has no criminal records. This process can take up to three months but thanks to co-operation from the authorities it was completed in less than a day.”

Lily Hyde will be presented with papers on her arrival confirming that she is now an Israeli citizen.

“A dream come true….and with so many of my family by my side” a beaming Lily said.

When she moves into her new room this week at Beit Protea in Herzliya, founded by the South African Zionist Federation, Lily will get busy making new friends who share an old background.



One Response to “Making Aliyah – at 96!”
  1. david says:

    Great story.

    Is Lily the oldest person ever to have made aliyah from anywhere around the world?

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