For Heaven’s sake

For Heaven’s sake

The volunteers of ZAKA SA, handling the work that few can do   By Chandrea Serebro It is truly humbling to meet people who do what they do with the purest of intentions and for the sheer virtue of it. Leshem shamayim (for the sake of heaven) is altruism at its best and it’s the only way to describe the good work that ZAKA does internationally. ZAKA is an international rescue and recovery organisation based out of Jerusalem in Israel, with branches all over the world, including a South African…

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Brave new world

Brave new world

Remembering Cape Town’s pioneer Rabbi   By Juan-Paul (Paysach) Burke South African Jewry is a relatively young community whose religious and communal infrastructure was built up by several pioneering individuals, be they rabbis, reverends, or laymen. In Johannesburg, there were the likes of Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Landau, and Rabbi Moishe Friedman. In Cape Town, there was Rev Joel Rabinowitz, Rev Alfred Philipp Bender, Adv Morris Alexander, and Rabbi Moshe Chaim Mirvish, to name but a few. To all of these and more, we owe our acknowledgement…

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Leader to us, parent to them

Leader to us, parent to them

  Some of the children of the man known as “Mr Community”, Gerald Leissner – who rose to success as MD of Anglo-American Property Services before moving onto ApexHi, and held numerous communal leadership positions, among them: chairman of Beyachad, national chairman and president of the Board of Deputies, and chairman of Yeshiva College and the Yeshiva College Hebrew Congregation – share with us their memories of growing up in his home   By Wendy Leissner-Machanik I have vivid memories of my father, a”h, always being there throughout my life….

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On the road to somewhere

On the road to somewhere

By Ilan Preskovsky There is a particularly pernicious problem facing Israel today that is perhaps rather less well known than the more newsworthy challenges that the average Israeli has to deal with: that of at-risk Israeli youth. According to the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, a social research company in Israel, a staggering 20% of Israelis under the age of eighteen are considered to be “at-risk” of having their long-term prospects compromised by everything from learning difficulties to their socio-economic backgrounds – with Charedi (Ultra-Orthodox), Ethiopian, and immigrant children being particularly affected. A…

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Milky and parev delights

Milky and parev delights

Some new ideas to try out for the Nine Days By: Lauren Goldfein The first time I was faced with cooking was when I got married and, through the years, I’ve come to really enjoy it. Frequently having guests for Shabbos offers me the opportunity to try out different ideas and experiment in the kitchen. My family’s preference for exotic tastes, combined with their not liking to have the same meal two weeks in a row, has also encouraged me to regularly expand my repertoire. I delight in taking long…

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Profiting from doing good

Profiting from doing good

Making the world a better place through the business of social enterprise   By Chandrea Serebro We love the idea of social enterprise, and the fact that businessmen and women are using their expertise for good. The Jewish social entrepreneurs out there are doing astounding things toward creating positive social change in all areas, and it was delightful to find an organisation dedicated not only to identifying businesses out there working in this space, but to growing them, developing them, and offering them support.   Mensch Mensch aims to mobilise…

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Investing in the age of populism

Investing in the age of populism

There’s something happening here…what it is ain’t exactly clear   By Ilan Preskovsky The past couple of months have been some of the most tumultuous the West has seen in quite some time. Not quite as horrifying as the 1940s or as explosive as the 1960s, perhaps, but the winds of change are once again a-blowin’. It all started with the shocking vote by the (slight) majority of British people to have the UK leave the European Union and culminated in the still-fairly-unbelievable escalation of what started with the almost…

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Walking on sunshine

Walking on sunshine

Roger Wolfson steps in to save the day By Chandrea Serebro The nine-year-olds dreaming of being president out there are probably a dime a dozen and Malwande Mahlangeni from Summerwood Primary School (previously Fairmount Primary School) is not much different, except in one very big way. Malwande only has one leg after a congenital deformity known as Amniotic Bands Syndrome, a rare birth defect, caused his left leg to be amputated below the knee when he was two years old. And while there have been famous presidents with disabilities before…

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The business of ethics

The business of ethics

Changing the way we do business – and changing our communities and our world in the process   By: Robert Sussman Can the way we do business make a difference in our communities and even to our world? It’s just such an idea that led to the creation of the Ethics and Governance Think Tank at the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (which is ranked as Africa’s leading business school) and sponsored by Sasfin Bank, PwC, Liberty, Standard Bank, Discovery, Imperial, and SA Taxi. As the founder,…

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Getting connected

Getting connected

Shabbat.com brings people together – and not just for Shabbat By Ilan Preskovsky As a community and campus rabbi, Rabbi Benzion Klatzko has long hosted Jews of all ages, stripes, and religious affiliations at his Shabbos table. He has done so in such number, in fact, that neighbours would ask if they could take on some of those guests, but, with hachnasas orchim (hospitality) being so near and dear to Rabbi Klatzko’s heart, he asked why they couldn’t find guests of their own. Quite reasonably for people not as highly…

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Everything’s better with chocolate!

Everything’s better with chocolate!

  By: Avigail Goldberg I’ve grown up with a passion for cooking, baking, and food innovation. I can’t say I have one particular food interest, as I love the creativity involved across all the food spectrums. Over the years I have established my own catering company from my Pretoria home called Abby’s Kitchen. I make a variety of home-made meals, do catering for events, and I run a cupcake business on the side. I am constantly trying to keep up with the ever-evolving food trends and I enjoy the challenge…

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A helping hand

A helping hand

Up close with some new organisations giving support to parents and families   By Chandrea Serebro The stress and pressure of finding ways to deal positively with a child’s remedial issues and the many lifestyle-affecting factors that go along with them is one thing, but few people truly consider the enormity of the effect this situation has on parents and the rest of the family. The recognition and awareness of the issues, the decisions that have to be made, living with choices that are made, the happiness of the child,…

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Should I stay or should I go?

Should I stay or should I go?

Parents and experts sound off on the difficult decision of whether to hold a child back a grade   By Chandrea Serebro When it comes to children, no decision is easy. And the changing world seems to be making the terrain even rougher for parents and even kids themselves to navigate. Before, the system dictated that the cut-off age for starting school used to be six years old, and the intake ran from July to June. Now it runs from January to December, with many parents of children born toward…

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Thinking out loud

Thinking out loud

Students share their opinions on a variety of questions   By Chandrea Serebro How do you want to grow or change to ready yourself for next year? Nearly every matric student has to answer this question, in one form or another, during his final year of school. We are asked this question because people who came before us have informed us about how the transition from ‘school’ into the ‘real world’ is not for the faint-hearted. As matric students, we are taught that we have to prepare for the reality…

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The Jerusalem Science Contest

The Jerusalem Science Contest

An opportunity for Jewish high school students around the world to pit their wits against each other and stand the chance to win some amazing prizes   By Ilan Preskovsky As if created just to prove how compatible science and Judaism truly are, the Walder Science Center is largely aimed at giving kids, teenagers, and college students in the Chicago area an extracurricular resource to more fully explore and engage with science through “a prism of Jewish values”. The centre was established in 2000 by Dr Joseph Walder as the…

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Go DEEP!

Go DEEP!

  A revolution in education is taking place in Chicago   By Ilan Preskovsky The South African Jewish community has plenty of which we can be proud, but perhaps nothing more than the quality of our schools. For years, both our more traditional Jewish schools, as well as more explicitly religious schools have prided themselves on exceptional levels of secular education to go along with their Jewish character and value systems. It’s not for nothing, after all, that our matriculants consistently rank among the highest scorers in the country, with…

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Take me out to the ball game

Take me out to the ball game

Helping children to have a little fun   By Ilan Preskovsky There is more to helping those in need than dealing only with their specific problems, and one of the most effective, by far, is by uplifting their spirits. Sharing Seats, a not-for-profit organisation based in New Jersey, not only believes this, but goes about achieving it in a most unique way. Established in 2009 by Yoni Greenstein, a sales manager for IDT in Newark, New Jersey, Sharing Seats gives underprivileged or seriously ill children and their families the chance…

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Shavuos in Merril’s Kitchen

Shavuos in Merril’s Kitchen

  By: Merril Elvey Trying to discover the roots of my cooking odyssey has been an interesting journey in self-discovery. It seems that my love of food and cooking is inextricably linked with my personal teshuva journey. I have always known how to cook, and always enjoyed cooking (I come from a family of excellent cooks). But my real love of food began in earnest with the chagim as a young married wife and mother. As every Yom Tov rolled around I would start thinking of the foods associated with…

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What’s cooking?

What’s cooking?

  Tantalising kitchens around the world and giving back at the same time By Chandrea Serebro When a group of ladies get together in the kitchen to share recipes and create new ones, the end result is either chaos or culinary heaven. Considering every Jewish woman’s reluctance to share her bubbie’s matzah ball recipe, I would imagine it’s more likely the former than the latter. But, when the four ladies of Tantalize with Salads recipe book fame got together each week in the shul kitchen to delight their community at…

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Be kind

Be kind

  It’s that simple. And great things will come to you. By: Robert Sussman We are all familiar with the custom of reading Megillas Rus (the Book of Ruth) on Shavuos. So, it should surprise us just a bit to learn that our Sages actually asked regarding this megilla why it was even written down in the first place! Their answer: to teach the greatness of the reward for those who do kindnesses – and they specifically emphasise the word kindnesses, ie. in the plural, noting that the megilla tells…

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Moshe: Our Teacher

Moshe: Our Teacher

  Celebrating our connection with the Creator, and the man who made it possible.   By: Dovid Samuels On Shavuos we received the Torah, and, with it, the eternal connection to Hashem through His wisdom and His commandments. But along with the 613 mitzvos and the endless obligation to immerse ourselves in Hashem’s Torah, we also received two crucial beliefs: one being that the prophecy of Moshe Rabeinu is true, and that he is the only one, both before and after, to have such a prophecy; and the second is…

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Susan’s house

Susan’s house

Finding solace and purpose through creating works of art   By Ilan Preskovsky Susan Kaplansky was an American-Israeli artist who believed deeply in the healing power of art. Born and raised in America before moving to live with her husband in Jerusalem, Susan wanted to establish an art centre for at-risk youth in honour of her dear friend, Yuval, who passed away in his early thirties. Tragically, before her vision could be realised, Susan herself died of cancer a short time later. The Yuval and Susan foundation – or as…

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This land is mine

This land is mine

Fighting against a virtual country and a virtual people, portrayed to the entire world as victims   By: Neville Kahn Few words today are capable of arousing as much human emotion as the word ‘Palestine’, a name which has become the focus of a sacred cause in the eyes of the international community. With roots that can be traced back to the biblical era, the word ‘Palestine’ evolved from the name of an ancient sea people, the Philistines, age-old enemies of the Jewish people. After their forced exile 2000 years…

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Lech lecha

Lech lecha

  Packing your bags, leaving what you know, and going to a new land, even if it is the land of your forefathers, must surely have been easier for Avraham. After all, he had Hashem leading the way. Lucky for new olim, there are now a host of people dedicated to giving you a softer landing once you arrive in Israel By Chandrea Serebro KeepOlim After starry-eyed olim land in Israel and the high of aliyah subsides, the joy and newness of having taken the plunge starts to recede somewhat…

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Gimme TEN

Gimme TEN

A Jewish Agency initiative comes to South Africa   By Chandrea Serebro Exciting news for South Africans that local Jewry can be proud of us is the recently launched Project TEN initiative in Durban, which is making strides in bettering the local communities that it touches. “Project TEN is a Jewish Peace Corps Global Tikkun Olam, a Jewish Agency initiative that takes global responsibility for underprivileged populations throughout Israel and the world, bringing over 500 young Jewish adults each year, both Israelis and their Diaspora peers, to volunteer together with…

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Make Israel yours

Make Israel yours

A tailor-made experience in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem   By Chandrea Serebro As Jews, we all have a right to a piece of Israel, but the Aardvark Israel Programme, under the umbrella of the Israel Centre JHB, offers Jewish students from around the world the opportunity to ‘Make Israel Yours’ by providing a tailor-made, modular curriculum, so students can build a customised experience in Israel. This is an opportunity for a more independent, yet still structured experience in Israel that gives you the best of everything other programmes have to offer,…

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Farming for the future

Farming for the future

The Zetler Farms employ techniques from Israel to ensure sustainability By Chandrea Serebro The Zetler Family farms, located in Cape Town, are leading the way in innovation by using techniques on their farms learned in Israel. In doing so, they are making great strides in ensuring sustainability and saving water in these times of drought in Cape Town. The modern Zetlers come from a line of Zetlers who saw the value in innovation and in learning from others. “Mendel Zetler came to South Africa, settling in Stellenbosch to become a…

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Chesed Around the World: Including everyone

Chesed Around the World: Including everyone

No matter the age, no matter the disability, taking care of needs and creating a feeling of belonging   By Ilan Preskovsky Established in 1983 as a reaction to the fact that special needs children were left out of the social recreational programmes that most Jewish children enjoyed, Yachad – the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, an agency of the Orthodox Union – is a US-based, global organisation that has since expanded its sights considerably, but has always worked around the simple, if hardly easy, goal of “addressing the needs…

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Kosher Gourmet: Cooking with love

Kosher Gourmet: Cooking with love

Heather Taback serves up some new twists for Pesach Mrs Anne Raff, a”h, well known to everyone as “Granny Anne”, always said, “Your food has a unique ingredient – LOVE!” That continues to be the special part of my food. I do all the cooking and baking myself – everything is custom made … with love. I owe my catering career to the blessings, encouragement, guidance, and enthusiasm she showered on me. I am a school teacher by profession and have always loved cooking and baking in my spare time….

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Kol isha

Kol isha

Some women making names for themselves by singing just for women   By Chandrea Serebro Chana Opert Who would have guessed that the voice currently being played on a trendy Brazilian Radio Station and the woman behind many popular songs available online belongs to a Russian born, South African religious Jewess with seven kids who sings in five languages? She should be a national treasure for women all round, because Chana Opert’s musical career is so humble, yet the image of achievement, and, at the same time, imbued with multiple…

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Beating the bully

Beating the bully

What began as lessons in self-defence becomes a journey of self-discovery By Chandrea Serebro Here’s a story of a kid named Jake, an active five-year-old kid, climbing trees, scaling scaffolding, and scaring his mom out of her wits. But what scared her even more were the beatings Jake was getting from the neighbourhood bully, which started at just seven years old and escalated through his primary school years. Jake’s mom decided enough was enough. Enrolling him in self-defence training, she in essence entered Jake on a journey that would not…

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80 years of Yekkes in Joburg

80 years of Yekkes in Joburg

Celebrating the anniversary of Addas Yeshurun   By Chandrea Serebro When Yeoville became known affectionately as “Jewville”, it was not without reason. Yeoville was the thriving scene of the frum South African Jews, which in its heyday boasted much of the Jewish infrastructure that we find in the shtetl of Glenhazel today, if not even more. Two Orthodox day schools, eight shuls, Jewish bookshops, kosher bakeries and restaurants, as well as the head office of the South African Beth Din. And so, says David Saks, Associate Director at the SAJBD…

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Thanks a lot!

Thanks a lot!

  One of the most important lessons we’re meant to learn from the exodus is to recognise the good that’s done for us by others – and, in return, show our gratitude   By: Robert Sussman There’s a stunning episode that takes place after Moshe encounters Hashem by the burning bush and is commanded to return at once to Egypt, appear before Pharaoh, and begin the long-awaited process of the redemption of the Jewish people from our seemingly endless servitude. Rather than do as he was commanded and race back…

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As seen on TV

As seen on TV

Steven Hill showed the world that keeping Shabbos in Hollywood is not a Mission: Impossible   By: Ilan Preskovsky With the avalanche of celebrity deaths that occurred throughout 2016, it became all too easy for some of the less instantly recognisable writers, musicians, and actors to get buried under the sheer magnitude of the loss of the likes of David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Prince, or Alan Rickman. For practising Jews of all stripes, though, one perhaps lesser-known name (but quite recognisable face if you ever managed to catch one of…

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Give ‘n get

Give ‘n get

Using a simcha as an opportunity to think of others By Chandrea Serebro In the search for people who used their simcha as an opportunity to give back, there was no shortage of people with whom to speak. The good being done out there is positively overwhelming! And there is no better time or opportunity for good than using this time of joy and personal growth, a milestone and life achievement, to do for others. Here are a few stories we found… A group of girls used their simchas to…

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DIY Simchas

DIY Simchas

Tips on what you can do yourself and what you should leave to the professionals   By Chandrea Serebro Making a simcha is becoming increasingly expensive and harder to do, but there are ways to save if you do it yourself, or even at home, and it can still be amazing! Just make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew – the pitfalls of a DIY simcha are many, and sometimes it can end up costing a whole lot more in time, money, and irritation. Here are…

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A blessing in disguise

A blessing in disguise

A heart-breaking tragedy sows the seeds for a new chance at life By: Rabbi Ami Glixman It was the early 1930s in New York and a street game of soccer comprised of neighbourhood boys was taking place. Yaakov Maizels, who would later change his name to Jacky Mason, was standing on the corner, telling his jokes to anyone who would listen, but the game was too much competition for him on that day. One of the boys playing, Chayim, had fallen down, but was able to hold the ball in…

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Stronger together

Stronger together

Achieving unity in the face of adversity By Robert Sussman Each festival and its associated mitzvos are not only a remembrance of the events that took place in our history, but serve to strengthen and renew, in our days, the special spiritual influences which we merited at those times. Our Sages enacted four mitzvos for us on Purim: (1) reading the megilla, (2) celebrating with a festive meal, aka a seudah, (3) sending gifts of food to a friend, aka mishloach manos, and (4) giving to the poor, aka matanos l’evyanim. Why did they…

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What is right?

What is right?

The lesson of a great King, that truth and logic are also servants of Hashem By: Dovid Samuels “Remember what the people of Amalek did to you on the path as you left Egypt”[1]: They were the first tribe brazen enough to attack the Jewish people after their miraculous and spectacular exodus from Egypt. For this reason, we are commanded to obliterate the memory of this nation from the world. We read about Amalek on Shabbos Zachor, the Shabbos next to Purim, because on Purim we were given another taste…

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Meeting the enemy head on

Meeting the enemy head on

By Ilan Preskovsky There is surely no greater act of chesed than helping children with cancer and that is precisely what the American not-for-profit organisation, Kids Kicking Cancer, has been dedicated to doing for over fifteen years. That it does so in a most unconventional manner does nothing to take away from how powerfully effective it has proven to be time and time again. Founded in 1999 by Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg, who left his position as a community rabbi of some twenty years to start the organisation, Kids Kicking Cancer…

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Seeing red – Exposing the many dangers associated with artificial food colourants

Seeing red – Exposing the many dangers associated with artificial food colourants

  By: Richard Sutton Our environment and food chain have never been more corrupted, containing thousands of pollutants that are toxic to the brain, impacting learning, memory, mood, and cognition. While organophosphate pesticides, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), combustion-related air pollutants, lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, and phthalates are receiving tremendous attention from newly emerging environmental health groups like TENDR[1], there should be equal concern for our on-going exposure to artificial food chemicals. Artificial food colourants (dyes) have been a controversial additive for many decades. They are found in thousands of food…

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Teachers get graded! It’s back to school for some Jewish Studies educators

Teachers get graded! It’s back to school for some Jewish Studies educators

  By Chandrea Serebro They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but it took one woman with a passion for education and a mission to bettering the standard of Jewish teaching to partner with a veteran with a Master’s degree in education to challenge this. Now, the Judaic Studies instruction bar has been raised and there is no stopping them. With over 13 years of teaching experience in formal Jewish education in the UK, USA, and South Africa, and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and…

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His superpowers: courage, commitment, faith, and fortitude

His superpowers: courage, commitment, faith, and fortitude

By Rabbi Yossy Goldman It really was the end of an era, and not just for our family. When he left this world on 29 Tishrei, my father was one of the last survivors of the group of yeshiva students that fled Europe during World War 2 and managed to find refuge in Shanghai, China. As a child, I never realised what my dad had been through in his early life. He never spoke much about it. It wasn’t until my adolescence when I began reading Holocaust literature that it…

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Look up! – Filmmaker Ashley Lazarus learns to put Hashem in the picture

Look up! – Filmmaker Ashley Lazarus learns to put Hashem in the picture

  By: Robert Sussman Ashley Lazarus’ name may not be familiar to you, but his body of work almost certainly is. Anyone who grew up in South Africa will remember the Peter Stuyvesant shorts that played in the cinema before each feature film, whetting everyone’s appetite for travel by sharing incredible scenes and exotic locales from around the world – all of which were created, filmed, and directed exclusively by Ashley. But his greatest success as a filmmaker was likely the original South African story of two young boys –…

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The kids are alright

The kids are alright

  By Chandrea Serebro Shane Bassin Although Shane Bassin is every bit as remarkable as his CV, one that could give even the most accomplished person a run for his money, he is still just a normal teenager who likes a good comedy series and having a laugh with friends. As KDHS Linksfield’s representative on the Johannesburg Mini Council for 2011-2012, it was the time in his life, he says, “when I was first empowered to help others in an official capacity”. But it’s not a title or official position…

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The opportunity of a lifetime

The opportunity of a lifetime

  By Chandrea Serebro Masa, the public-service organisation founded by the Prime Minister’s Office of the Government of Israel together with The Jewish Agency, has a myriad of projects offering South Africans the opportunity to spend some time in Israel. Gap year programmes, study abroad programmes, yeshiva programmes. But Masa also provides the opportunity for a stint at major high tech companies and exciting start-ups, doing real and amazing work. The Israel internship programme (which in SA falls under the Israel Centre’s JHB umbrella) gives budding professionals “hands-on opportunities” to…

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Feast or fast? – Feeding our souls, and uplifting our bodies

Feast or fast? – Feeding our souls, and uplifting our bodies

  By: Dovid Samuels One of the most constant themes at any Jewish celebration is undoubtedly food. On Shabbos, we are obligated to eat three meals, with all sorts of delicacies and delights. On Yom Tov we also eat festive meals, as we would eat the korban Chagiga (the festival offering) in Temple times. Weddings, bris milas, all Jewish events and celebrations are unquestionably accompanied by a generous representation of food. But, unlike every other festival where there is an actual requirement to eat, Chanukah finds itself conspicuously side-lined on…

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You’re not imagining it…the sky really is falling

You’re not imagining it…the sky really is falling

  By: Robert Sussman The results of the recent Affordable Jewish Life survey show that the financial strain being felt among community members is very real and many think that it’s only going to get worse A few months back in our July issue (#97) in a feature story titled “Feeling the Pinch”, we profiled a couple of average, middle-class, Johannesburg Jewish families who have been increasingly taking financial strain over the last few years and introduced the community to a recently formed group[1], , Affordable Jewish Life (AJL), led…

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Travel light

Travel light

By: Chandrea Serebro Whether you’re staying at home or vacationing on a budget, here are some great ideas to make your time off more enjoyable Travel is overrated. Yeah, right. Anyone who believes that is fooling themselves. This year, the costs of travel and leisure are at an all-time high. For many, going away is just not an option. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay at home lamenting the passing of your once-a-year break. It just might be possible to fool yourself into the best trip yet. And…

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Sensitivity training – Putting ourselves in the shoes of others

Sensitivity training – Putting ourselves in the shoes of others

By: Shmuel Horwitz “Nu…so when is it gonna be your turn?” asks an elderly cousin. “Come on already, time is moving on”, comments your best friend’s grandmother. Sound familiar? Or how about this one: a new mother is talking to her friend in the queue at the grocery store and complains, “I was up until 4 am with my baby. I’m so exhausted. It’s just so difficult sometimes.” Sounds relatively innocent, right? Not when it’s overheard by a woman standing behind them in the queue who has been struggling to…

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Flying high! Deploying an army of ambassadors around the globe

Flying high! Deploying an army of ambassadors around the globe

  By: Robert Sussman If the State of Israel had a social media profile, its profile picture would be a caricature, some sort of hand-drawn image with the features grossly distorted. After all, most people’s view of the country is informed solely by the constant stream of negative media, with most having never set foot there or met one of its citizens. But, what if there was a way for people to spend some time with ordinary Israelis, hearing them tell about their life experiences in Israel, about how they…

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Why do we call it Chanukah?

Why do we call it Chanukah?

  By: Robert Sussman Everyone knows the story of the small Jewish army triumphing over the mighty Greek military machine – and of the single jug of pure olive oil found in the Temple – but where does the name come from?   Differences of opinion are an integral part of being Jewish, after all the Talmud is full of them. And who isn’t familiar with sayings like: “two Jews, three opinions”? Sometimes, however, we don’t realise just how far these differences of opinion go, cutting right to the very…

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Getting connected – A camp that’s more like a family

Getting connected –  A camp that’s more like a family

By Chandrea Serebro Camp Kesher is about connectons. It is kids connecting with themselves, with Hashem, with each other, and with their Jewishness. “Connections are probably one of the most fundamental aspects of our lives. ‘No man is an island’ – children need positive role models who can help guide them in the right path. Friendships are essential for a child’s self-esteem. Knowing that there is a camp that is so accepting of everyone is comforting – I cannot emphasise how much each child looks forward to this camp every…

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Chesed Around the World – Second chances

Chesed Around the World – Second chances

By Ilan Preskovsky “Giving people and clothes a second chance” might sound like a slightly incongruous motto for a charitable organisation, but in the case of Haboydem (“The Attic” in Yiddish), a second-hand, not-for-profit clothing store that employs people dealing with mental illness, it could hardly be more appropriate. Set up to be a largely self-sufficient organisation that uses all of the profits from the sales of the clothes they sell (all of which are donated) to pay for the store’s rent and for the salaries of their employees and…

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Mazel tov! A magazine is born – Behind the scenes of a Jewish South African fixture

Mazel tov! A magazine is born – Behind the scenes of a Jewish South African fixture

By: Eliana Cline It’s hard to remember a time when Jewish Life magazine wasn’t a commonplace item on every Jewish coffee table. But just nine years ago, it didn’t exist, and may never have existed if not for an innocent question. The seeds were sown when Martyn and Liz Samuels were beginning their journey back to Torah Judaism and they found themselves in West Street Shul. They looked around and were surprised that there was not a high-quality, monthly Jewish magazine to be found. “I asked Rabbi Kacev why there wasn’t…

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Unsung Heroes – Helping when you can’t be thanked

Unsung Heroes – Helping when you can’t be thanked

  By Chandrea Serebro David Weber is lucky enough to be one of those guys who can boast one hundred percent job satisfaction. You might be surprised when I tell you that David is the General Manager and Funeral Director at the Johannesburg Chevrah Kadisha Burial Services. But, says David, “I am not sure what inspires me, other than that I am one of the lucky few people who get to say truthfully that I love my work.” The misaskim, or undertakers, who David describes as dealing in the work…

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To life! – Giving a gift beyond measure

To life! – Giving a gift beyond measure

  By Chandrea Serebro Lori Palatnik, founding director of the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, relates how she was sitting in a taxi in New York when her taxi driver asked her, “If we only need one kidney, why did G-d create us with two?” Lori replied, “So that we could give one away.” She told this story a year ago at the launch of Life2Life, a donor network programme which is a project of Hatzolah, to an audience where no one was left dry-eyed. “Life2Life was born out of a…

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Allergy attack – Severe reactions are on the rise around the globe

Allergy attack – Severe reactions are on the rise around the globe

  By Chandrea Serebro Allergy rates are increasing dramatically around the world, and the severity of the cases and the numbers are scary. The last 10 to 15 years have seen a steep rise in food allergies across westernised countries. Hayley Katz, director of Allergy Alive (facebook.com/allergyalive), says that severe allergic reactions, which include anaphylaxis, a severe and sudden allergic reaction which is life-threatening, have emerged as a “global epidemic”, with 20-30% of the world’s population suffering from some form of allergy. “Allergic conditions, which include food allergies and asthma, have…

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Thinking things through

Thinking things through

  “I don’t need the world to remember my son. It’s very important for me that he stays alive within family and friends who knew him. I would like us, as a people, to remember who we were at that time, to remember what we are capable of and what we can strive for; if that comes with the names of the boys attached, then there’s a special sense to it.” By: Robert Sussman Racheli Fraenkel shares her unique perspective on the very personal events that touched and united us…

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Kosher Gourmet: Tradition!

Kosher Gourmet: Tradition!

From my mother, to my children, to their children – and now to you – a traditional, home-cooked Shabbos meal from start to finish By: Rebbetzin Winnie Gourarie Rabbi Soleveitchik z”l once wrote, “Even in those neighbourhoods made up predominantly of religious Jews, onc can no longer talk of the sanctity of Shabbos. True there are Jews in America who observe Shabbos. But it is not for Shabbos that my heart aches, it is for the forgotten ‘erev Shabbos’,” referring to those hours just prior to the commencement of Shabbos….

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Shabbos 2.0 – Taking Shabbos to the next level

Shabbos 2.0 – Taking Shabbos to the next level

By: Robert Sussman I had been in law school for about a month when a panicked classmate who hailed from, of all places, Alaska approached me with a look of grave concern on his face. “Do you mean to tell me that you don’t do any – ANY – work for law school on Saturdays!?” He had obviously been speaking with other students about the fact that I was a Sabbath observant Jew, the implications of which had clearly dawned on him. A smile spread over my face, as I…

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In search of happiness

In search of happiness

By: Brandon Blumenau We are commanded to rejoice on Pesach, Shavuos, and Sukkos. We refer to these festivals as yomim tovim, or “good days”, on which we dress well, eat well, and daven well. These are times we celebrate with family, friends, and even Hashem Himself. Pesach and Shavuos are undoubtedly happy times for the Jewish People, but only Sukkos is described by our Rabbis as zman simchaseinu, the time of our happiness. The obvious question is what’s there to be so happy about on Sukkos? We have a very…

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Something to celebrate on the birthday of the world

Something to celebrate on the birthday of the world

By Professor Nathan Aviezer Creation and Science Where did the universe come from? A person of faith would probably answer that the universe was created out of nothing, as stated in the first verse of the Torah. Such an answer was long considered a scientific impossibility, because it contradicted the law of the conservation of matter and energy. According to this law of science, which was established in the middle of the nineteenth century, matter and energy can be changed from one form to another, but something cannot come from…

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Making mitzvos possible

Making mitzvos possible

By Ilan Preskovsky So important is the establishment of a mikvah (a ritual bath) in Judaism that our great Sage, the Chofetz Chaim, said, “The building of a mikvah takes precedence over the building of a shul, the buying of a sefer Torah, and all other commandments” in any Jewish community. The laws of family purity, for which the mikvah plays a essential role, are rather complicated, but so elemental is the building of a mikvah that any Jewish community without one can be said to be lacking its very…

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Remembering Mr Fitz

Remembering Mr Fitz

By David Sommer Fredy Sommer, a”h, was born in 1910 in Langenselbold, a small town close to Frankfurt, Germany. As the oldest of four children, he shared in the responsibility of taking care of the family. His parents were too poor to afford to send him to high school so he began working in the family bakery at the tender age of twelve. Initially, the “bakery” involved renting an oven in one of the four corners of the town where bread and rolls were baked. Fredy’s job was to deliver…

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So that you shall know

So that you shall know

By: Dovid Samuels “For seven days you shall dwell in sukkahs…so that your generations shall know that I made the Jewish people live in sukkahs when I took them out of Egypt.” [1] Apparently we build sukkahs to remind us of how Hashem gave us huts to live in as we became a newly formed nation from the furnace of Mitzrayim (Egypt). Homeless and wandering, Hashem provided housing for us, and we need to remember this miracle for all generations, so we should never think that our safety and protection…

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Think before you click

Think before you click

By: Sara Gila Margulies As the High Holy Days draw upon us, we begin to take stock of all our deeds this past year. We each hope to be signed in the Book of Life and thus to be granted a new year of health, peace, and prosperity. Every one of us has surely earned much merit for the many mitzvos we have performed, and all our positive actions will hopefully outweigh any misdeeds on our slate. Yet, if we wish to be granted a sweet judgment, it would only…

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Swimming against the tide

Swimming against the tide

By Chandrea Serebro I had the chance to chat recently to a prominent businessman and member of the religious community the other day, and I told him I was doing an article on the challenges of being religiously observant in the corporate world. How hard it must be, at times, but how it must also bear amazing rewards to be that beacon of light. A great responsibility, which I am sure, can be very tough at times. A chozer b’teshuva (someone who was not raised religiously), he told me the…

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Paving a new path

Paving a new path

By: Robert Sussman It is well known that Moshe Rabbeinu spent forty days and forty nights on Har Sinai (Mount Sinai) receiving the Torah from Hashem, only to descend from the mountain after all that time, tablets in hand, to find the nation committing the terrible Cheit HaEigel (the sin of the golden calf), at which point he made the decision to throw down the tablets that were in his hands, smashing them to pieces. What followed was another forty day and forty night period on Har Sinai during which…

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A love affair with the machzor

A love affair with the machzor

  By Richard Shavei-Tzion Those were days of awe. The Shul in Cape Town was packed to the brim with generations of families in their finery. The men, many topped with formal hats, wore dark suits and solid ties while the women, resplendent in variations of the season’s fashionable colours, glittered with a sense of the occasion. The elders appeared stern faced, some leaning on carved walking sticks while the little boys and girls, shoes unusually polished and ties slightly askew, strained on tip toes to get a glimpse of…

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Real teshuva

Real teshuva

By Eliezer Ohr* Teshuva (lit: return), aka repentance, is an incredibly powerful concept, requiring us to look at the effect of our negative actions and calling us to return and make things right. From my experience, the concept of return applies not only within the context of our relationship with Hashem, but also within the constellation of all the relationships in our lives. Every relationship is affected by our actions, both positive and negative, and all of those relationship requiring repair when we choose the wrong path. This is what…

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Seemingly harmless words

Seemingly harmless words

By Sara Gila Margulies Imagine if someone claimed that he had discovered the secret to attaining unspeakable wealth and that he was willing to share his discovery with the world. Who would be foolish enough not to jump at such an opportunity? Well, in Sefer Tehillim (Psalms), Dovid HaMelech (King David) already revealed to us just such a secret: “Who is the man who desires [eternal] life…Guard your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” It’s guaranteed. When we work on protecting our mouths from speaking hurtful,…

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The miracle at Entebbe

The miracle at Entebbe

  By Rabbi Yossy Goldman Much of what I write in these columns reflects what I have learned from people and my experiences over the years, whether in congregational life as a rabbi, or in my engagement with the the wider community on a variety of levels. But this month I learned a lot about life, people, and Jews from a historical event. The 4th of July 2016 was not only American Independence Day. It was the 40th Anniversary of the incredible and miraculously successful rescue at Entebbe. Arab terrorists…

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The critic within us

The critic within us

  By: Leonard Carr As human beings we often make the mistake of using faculties that Hashem gave us for self-perfection and growth to avoid facing ourselves by applying those qualities to others. A good example of this is the ability to judge between right and wrong. Judgment is based on comparison. In judgment you make a distinction between what you encounter compared to a principle or belief about how things should preferably or necessarily be. In order to be able to choose appropriate responses from their opposites, or to…

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Passing on the sugar

Passing on the sugar

  By Richard Sutton Our bodies are a gift from G-d and it’s actually a mitzvah to make every effort to ensure that we keep them healthy and vital. Maimonides cautions us that “maintaining a healthy and whole body is an integral part of Divine service,”[1] as, without a healthy body, a person cannot serve Hashem to his fullest. Like many things that add value to our lives, looking after our health is not easy. It’s hard work, time consuming, and, with so much information available, it can be somewhat…

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An exercise in coming together

An exercise in coming together

  By Chandrea Serebro It is an utterly moving experience to watch a group of grade eleven learners from Torah Academy, along with Moletsane High and Pace College in Soweto, and from two schools in Beit Shemesh, Israel, ride into Durban on their bikes after traveling 500 km. The celebration marking the end of the journey is particularly rousing – a goose-bump moment – not because they push themselves physically, making the trip in five days, but because these boys are all heroes. They have all gone beyond themselves, on…

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Leading the way in kindness

Leading the way in kindness

By: Chandrea Serebro What Jew doesn’t feel immense pride when he sees Israel standing at the forefront of the global community, frequently even arriving first on the scene, when it comes to offering aid to disaster zones like Nepal after their 2015 earthquake, Haiti after their 2010 earthquake, and Thailand after their 2004 Tsunami, often without even a remote vested interest in the country in question? Showing kindness to non-Jews – a mitzvah in its own right – falls under the category of what our Rabbis called darchei shalom, lit:…

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Leaders to us, parents to them

Leaders to us, parents to them

Chief Rabbi Moshe Dov Casper, z”l, by his daughter, Batya I have been asked to write about my father, Moshe Dov (Bernard Moses) Casper, z”l, which means ignoring the soft, nurturing love of my mother’s influence. So that is what I will do. My dad was the uber nurturer in our home. It was he who checked that the front door was locked at night, who read bedtime stories to my brother and me before lights out (when he was home), who said our nightly shema with us (again, when…

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The plus side of life

The plus side of life

  By Ilan Preskovsky In these financially difficult times, charitable institutions have their work cut out for them – not just in the sheer volume of what they’re dealing with, but in trying to figure out the best way to help their communities. Be it conventional charity donations, interest-free loans, or sending out food or clothing parcels, there are many ways to help the less fortunate, but, as the Rambam (Maimonides) put it, the highest level of charity is building up a person so he can make a living on…

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Feeling the pinch

Feeling the pinch

  By: Robert Sussman As the value of the Rand spirals downward, while inflation and the cost of living spike upward, families are struggling to keep their heads above water, as debt, and along with it stress, begins to mount. Our grandparents and great-grandparents worked hard – six days a week and sometimes even seven – without any break. Many were forced to start working from very tender ages out of sheer necessity. Annual holiday vacations to exotic locales? Unheard of – it wasn’t even on their radar. Such a…

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Gut Instinct

Gut Instinct

  By Richard Sutton The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, once said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Clinical and research-based evidence strongly supporting this wisdom is accumulating. To fully appreciate the digestive system’s role in health and wellbeing, it is valuable to understand a little more about its anatomy and physiology. The gut spans 9 meters in length in most adults and is our single largest body surface, measuring 200m2. Within its walls there are thousands of specialised cells called ‘enteroendocrine cells’ that secrete 20 different hormones. These hormones…

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Lending without any gain

Lending without any gain

  By Ilan Preskovsky With the weak rand, an endlessly increasing cost of living, and a world economy that is still struggling to get over the near-disastrous events of the 2008 financial crash, South Africans in 2016 are feeling the pinch and feeling it hard. Of course, the true tragedy of such capitalism gone wrong is that it’s seldom the super-rich who feel the soaring costs and financial hardships, but the middle class struggling to maintain their status as such and, most especially, the poor struggling more and more just…

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More is…more

More is…more

  By Chandrea Serebro Modest fashion is no longer just housedresses and shapeless hair coverings. A look around the streets of religious neighbourhoods in New York and London will quickly dispel the notion that it’s not all drab and no fab. It’s a worldwide phenomenon that more ‘modest’ fashion is hitting the street in a big way, from the runways of New York to the cat walks of Milan, with internationally renowned designers unknowingly embracing the Jewish tenets of modesty, and through Jewish fashionistas who, using the trends as inspiration,…

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The buddy system

The buddy system

  By: Sara Gila Margulies The Hebrew word for partnership is shutfut, from the root “to share”. “Two is better than one” is an oft-repeated phrase[1] in the world at large. When two individuals join together to perform a task, their combined energies, talents, and efforts can help bring the project to fruition more effectively and efficiently. What is the significance of this? The Torah testifies to the fact that man was not created to remain alone. G-d Himself says, “It is not good for man to be alone; I…

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Coming to terms with what we have lost

Coming to terms with what we have lost

  By: Robert Sussman The Second Temple was destroyed nearly 2000 years ago and we have been in exile ever since. How would we feel if our exile ended tomorrow, if we were all suddenly gathered into the land of Israel and witnessed the inauguration of the Third Temple? It is admittedly a bit hard to imagine, so to get an idea let’s consider what took place at the inaugurations of the First and Second Temples. The Talmud[1] teaches that the celebration for the inauguration of the First Temple was…

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A Children’s Zoo That Specialises In Chesed

A Children’s Zoo That Specialises In Chesed

  By Ilan Preskovsky Built from the ashes of a terrible tragedy, Havat Ephraim, a children’s petting zoo in Beit El, Israel, has been a constant source of chesed for nearly twenty years now. Between providing work opportunities for struggling adults and therapy for troubled children, the zoo stands as a testament not only to the young boy in whose memory it is named but for the Jewish and, indeed, deeply human ability to create meaning out of even the most seemingly meaningless darkness. As its founder, Tuvia Victor, tells…

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Q & A With The Headmasters – Principals Reflect On Learning In Today’s Brave New World

Q & A With The Headmasters – Principals Reflect On Learning In Today’s Brave New World

  By Chandrea Serebro …on the role of the parents “In order for a school to be successful in the education of a student, there needs to be a conscious partnership between the parents and the school. When a parent chooses a school, they choose to follow the ethos that the school runs by. Parents are pivotal in the success of good learning. If one wants his child to thrive, he needs to be actively involved in his child’s schooling. That said, as educators we are not the child’s parents,…

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Teaching the ABC’s of proper speech

Teaching the ABC’s of proper speech

  By: Robert Sussman Say Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation (CCHF) and what comes to mind? If you answered: the annual videos that are shown each Tisha B’av, enjoyed by thousands around the Jewish world, you wouldn’t be alone, but the CCHF does so much more than that. And it was on a trip last year to Eastern Europe that was arranged by the CCHF that Shelley and Jaron Tobias and Dr Avron Urison began to learn all about the multi-faceted work of the CCHF. “On one of the bus rides,”…

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Genuine Encouragement – Placing Our Faith And Trust In Our Children

Genuine Encouragement – Placing Our Faith And Trust In Our Children

  By: Aviva Porush Few, if any, are the parents and educators who don’t consider encouragement as one of the important “ingredients” in child rearing. Among the possible answers I get when surveying the meaning of the word ‘encouragement’ is: compliments, rewards, prize; in short, positive reinforcement. If you finish everything on your plate, you’ll get dessert. If you behave with the babysitter, I’ll take you out for pizza. If you tidy your room, you can have extra time on the computer. Many are the parents who are so “hooked…

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Teaching old dogs new tricks

Teaching old dogs new tricks

  By Chandrea Serebro The Academy of Jewish Thought and Learning If you want serious thinking and some thought-provoking learning, then The Academy of Jewish Thought and Learning is the place, with over 1000 adult students throughout South Africa and courses every week in Johannesburg at six different venues, and in Cape Town as well. “The Academy provides an empowering, text-based learning experience in a variety of areas, a place where students gain a no-holds barred knowledge combining traditional Torah approaches as well as Academic views – spanning the history…

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In The Service Of A Teacher

In The Service Of A Teacher

  By: David Levin For centuries, the Jewish people have been known as the “People of the Book”. And who could argue with such an appellation? One need only enter a yeshiva to see dozens of people engaged in passionate discussion and debate over a Talmud, a Rambam, or a Shulchan Aruch. Visitors to Jewish homes have grown accustomed to see walls of shelves laden with well-worn tomes and piles of books on tables that are in current study. The studiousness of the Jews is legendary throughout the world and…

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The Seamstress Who Sowed The Seeds Of Our Redemption

The Seamstress Who Sowed The Seeds Of Our Redemption

  By: Rabbi Eliyahu Sussman The Talmud[1] teaches that it was in the merit of the righteous Jewish women who persevered during the many hardships that we suffered in Egypt that we were eventually redeemed from there. In my humble opinion, allow me to say that, so too today, it is in the merit of our righteous Jewish women that the Jewish people are receiving abundant blessing. We are privileged to live in an era of Jewish rebirth and exceptional growth in Torah observance and Torah study. One could attribute…

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Full Issues

Full Issues

To read all of the great features and columns from this issue, please either download the complete issue (in pdf format) from our archives on this website or click on one of the links on this page to download our free app (and select this issue in the app to read it in its entirety). Click Here to download the iOS App: Click Here to download the Android App:

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Getting on the bandwagon – Yisro, the first convert leads the way

Getting on the bandwagon – Yisro, the first convert leads the way

  By Aron Ziegler Aron Ziegler has learned for over 15 years at the Yeshivah Gedolah of Johannesburg, including five years full-time. He was among the first students of Hirsch Lyons School. For the past 10 years he has been the spiritual leader of the Kensington Hebrew Congregation. He also leads a learning group weekday mornings at Cyrildene Shul. He strives, in the words of his beloved Rosh Yeshivah’s rebbe, to be a ‘Torah Jew’.   Yisro was an advisor to Pharaoh, but had to flee Egypt after voicing his…

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Defining Moments

Defining Moments

The unwavering support of a father By Ilan Preskovsky It’s not just any artist who can boast to having their work featured in the illustrious Guggenheim Museum in New York City, displayed in dozens of exhibitions throughout the world, and sought after by major art collectors, but it’s even rarer still when that artist is the daughter of a highly respected, very much Orthodox rabbi. With all this in mind, you would be correct in assuming that Naama Nothmann has had more than her share of defining moments. Narrowing it…

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Counting The Days – Building A Bridge Between Pesach And Shavuos

Counting The Days – Building A Bridge Between Pesach And Shavuos

  By: Robert Sussman Beyond the obvious physical liberation from the bondage of slavery, the primary purpose of our being redeemed from Egypt was to receive and fulfil the Torah, the very essence and definition of the Jewish people. Each year, we busy ourselves with the mitzvah of counting the 49 days between the anniversary of our going out from Egypt, which took place on Pesach, and the anniversary of the giving of the Torah, which took place on Shavuos, building a bridge connecting these two events. By counting these…

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Here’s To Your Health

Here’s To Your Health

Too much of a good thing By Richard Sutton One of the most prolific and prominent Torah scholars, Maimonides, once said, “As long as a person exercises and exerts himself, sickness does not befall him and his strength increases. But one who is idle and does not exercise, even if he eats healthy foods and maintains healthy habits, all his days will be of ailment and his strength will diminish.” More than 800 years later, science is echoing these insightful words. In 2012, the Journal of Aging Research published an…

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The Kosher Gourmet

The Kosher Gourmet

Inspiration From My Garden And My Bobba’s Recipe Book By: Lauren Boolkin Almost every aspect of Jewish observance is inseparable from the world outdoors. The festival of Shavuot illustrates this relationship. On the one hand, Shavuot celebrates the first fruits of the harvest, while on the other hand it celebrates the giving of the Torah. This reminds us that agriculture and Torah are thoroughly entwined, enough that they share a festival. For me, the Jewish mother that I am, my biggest joy is to feed people. This is closely followed…

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The Changing State Of Our Nation

The Changing State Of Our Nation

By Chandrea Serebro I’ll never forget the day I received a phone call from Joe. “Howzit? It’s Joe here. How are you?” Quickly racking my brain to figure out which Joe it was, I chatted normally and as laissez faire as I would with any of my pals, until he asked me if I would like to come to the Shabbaton he was organising the next Shabbos. It turned out, it was Rabbi Joe. I was embarrassed that I had addressed him so casually. We laugh about it today, but…

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All It Takes Is A Smile

All It Takes Is A Smile

By: Sara Gila Margulies Words have power. In every utterance, there is real opportunity to build up another person and affect him positively forever. Wishing a simple ‘good morning’ to a neighbour, giving a sincere compliment to a friend, or asking about a co-worker’s wellbeing with genuine interest can impact the recipient in ways that we could never imagine. The person will feel cared for, respected, and valued. And this, in turn, can bring joy to his day and give him a feeling of self-worth that can be cherished for…

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