The Zionist leader heading for Zion

At an age when many would consider retirement, 65-year-old Andrew Balcombe is to join the ranks of the long-distance commuters.

The chairman of the Zionist Federation is making aliyah this week — but is continuing in his communal role. He will have completed his first two-year stint but plans to stand again when the post comes up for election in September.

“I will be travelling back and forth between Israel and Britain, but it won’t be as often as some people who do it weekly,” said Mr Balcombe. “In fact, I and my wife Jean feel privileged to be going to Israel at this time.

“I will be coming back as much as I am required by the ZF. For instance, I will be back in June, September and November for various events.

“We have built up the ZF considerably in the past couple of years. There is a full programme for the coming year and I have a very good team around me. That, together with the benefits of modern technology, means that I have no qualms about going,” he said.

Mr Balcombe, a Harvard business graduate, is currently the chairman of one company and on the boards of several more, including one Israeli high-tech business.

He and his wife have owned a property in Israel for 14 years and have decided to go now because two of his three children and eight grandchildren live there already. One son, a doctor, did live in Israel but is now working in America.

Mr Balcombe said: “The ZF does a lot of work in Israel. For instance, we have a mission going in July — so that makes even more sense.

“It’s not easy leaving the home we’ve had for 38 years and all our friends. But there are terrific opportunities, and a very good life in Israel.”

    Last updated: 2:59pm, May 13 2008