Tammy Ben-Haim has had a globe-spanning career as a diplomat in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her first posting was Advisor for Political Affairs in the Embassy of Israel to India, New Delhi, then in Greece where she served as Deputy Ambassador, from there to Washington DC where is was Minister for Public Diplomacy and back to India, this time Consul General in Bengaluru.

Before joining the Foreign Ministry, Tammy worked in the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Finance, and in the Finance Committee of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. She also worked as an advisor to several lawmakers in the Knesset.

How did you become a Consul General? Where did you study and how has your experience been?
The short answer to the question is that I was lucky. I have a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I was serving at the Embassy of Israel in Washington DC as Minister for Public Diplomacy and was in charge of the biggest division of the Ministry in the Embassy when I was told that HQ was looking for a new Consul General for South India. As I have always wanted to come back to live and be posted in India, I started making a few calls, that resulted in my posting here directly from the USA.

Which are the places you have served at before moving to India?
In addition to serving for nearly four years in Washington DC, I served as Deputy Ambassador to Greece for five years, filled in for a bit as Charge in Nepal, and of course served before that in our Embassy in New Delhi.

What has been your role as a Consul General in Bangalore?
The role of Consul General is quite large and encompasses many aspects. I act as CEO of the Consulate and ensure that everything is running smoothly, the team knows and fulfills their jobs and duties, and that we get the funding and support we need from Headquarters in Jerusalem. My role also involves representing Israel in and to South India – I ensure that we are represented in the multiple exhibitions that happen here, including the upcoming 26th edition of BTS. I make connection and cooperate with government officials from the different states that we cover, with business leaders, industry representatives, and organisations. I also work to find issues and places for collaboration that will be beneficial for the states and people here in India and the people and State of Israel. A few months ago we brought smart and green mobility companies to Chennai and are now working on a large delegation in this field to bring to Bengaluru, as Karnataka is the fourth largest automobile producing state in India, and I believe that there is much we can do together in this field, especially around electric vehicles.

What skills do you think are most important to succeed in your field?
Being a diplomat requires many skills from different fields; as the job itself changes from position to position and place to place. You must be a quick learner and be willing and able to adapt yourself to new and sometimes unexpected situations. You must keep a clear vision of who you are and what you want to do and accomplish; but you must also be flexible enough to adjust yourself and your goals to better fit the situation and place you find yourself in. You should have general knowledge and be able to connect with people. I think you also need to be self-motivated and organised because a diplomat usually has many things going on at the same time that usually involve multiple partners and issues; so you must be able to know what needs to be done for each project and be able to move through them seamlessly. That is one of the main reasons women are such good diplomats – they can multi-task and keep many fires burning well at the same time.

What are the ongoing preparations for the Jewish New Year or the Rosh Hashanah in September?
Honestly, and luckily, there are not too many preparations that need to be done. We will have a family dinner with friends from the Jewish and Israeli communities in Bengaluru, Friday night, as the Jewish holidays always start at sunset of the eve of the previous day. As this year Rosh Hashanah, our New Year, falls on Saturday, we will be celebrating Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath day of rest, New Year together.

Some Jews go to synagogue, Jewish Temple, to pray and bring in the Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah. We will say some blessings at home with our guests and then eat a meal that will include dishes that celebrate the New Year. Some of these are apples and honey to show the bounty of the earth and wish for a sweet year, pomegranate to show the hope that our good deeds will be as plentiful as the number of seeds of the fruit, we will also eat Challah bread that we eat for every Shabbat (Friday night) meal, and have honey cake for extra sweetness; and of course, wine for the blessings.

Let me take this opportunity to wish all of our friends and people of Bengaluru a health and sweet year; though you may not celebrate it, each cycle, each day is an opportunity for each of us to have a fresh start and be kind.