Digging deeper

Digging deeper

In search of lessons that we can learn from the mitzvah of eating matzah and the prohibition of having chometz on Pesach By: Robert Sussman Mix flour from any one of the five grains – wheat, oats, spelt, rye, or barley – together with cool water, and leave that mixture unattended, and, within minutes, that mixture, which will form a basic dough, will become chometz (leavened). Chometz is the result of a natural process that takes place over a certain period of time. For bread to qualify as matzah (unleavened…

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What your Purim Mishloach Manot say about you.

What your Purim Mishloach Manot say about you.

Sponsored Content Mishloach manot are no longer just thoughtful expressions of a religious obligation, they are fun exchanges, a vehicle with which to express your personality and creativity. Themes have become so prevalent that they are almost the norm. You can make them chocolate themed, citrus themed, themed after a movie, song, or animal, or any theme that takes your fancy. No matter what you choose to do the primary custom to provide more than one type of food is still followed. And how better than to add in a…

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Wheels of love

Wheels of love

Actively solving problems for disabled and sick children   By Ilan Preskovsky ALYN Hospital has been treating and caring for children with disabilities and serious sicknesses in Israel for over eighty years now. From its earliest days as an orphanage/hospital for children suffering with polio, to the expansive paediatric hospital and rehabilitation centre that it is now, it has operated as an independent entity without government subsidies. As such, though it does have much of its expenses paid for by the local Israeli health funds to which every Israeli belongs,…

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A new land with new challenges

A new land with new challenges

Losing our way…and finding it again   By: Aron Ziegler After the First Temple was destroyed, we found ourselves exiled by the Babylonians. Once settled in their land and posing no threat to their kingdom, we were able to enjoy a period of ease and calm from persecution, and able to live, once again, as Jews. We were citizens in their land and could build relatively comfortable lives there. The Babylonians, however, were a barbaric, primitive people who thought nothing of cruelly butchering our people and had no sensitivity towards…

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Meme mentality

Meme mentality

Giving thanks for an illness suffered   By Chandrea Serebro Gratitude and appreciation. How many memes do we receive on a daily basis preaching just this? If I had a meme generator, I’d picture Desiree Levin and it would say: If I can feel it, so can you. Desiree puts all her feelings of positivity and appreciation down to something her father always said: “One needs to have hindsight to have foresight.” With hindsight, Desiree learned that what might have been a crushing blow to her life turned out to…

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A practical guide to coming of age

A practical guide to coming of age

By: Batsheva Lea Mazal tov! Your son is now becoming a Bar Mitzvah or your daughter a Bat Mitzvah! Until I did my own, I had no idea how much was involved and how stressful it would be. At times, I even felt myself unable to breathe from the stress. I know people who have even become physically sick from the preparations. Part of the stress comes from not knowing what is involved and what is expected. Your child will come of age with or without massive fanfare. A boy…

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Planning a function?

Planning a function?

Advice from people who’ve done it before… By Chandrea Serebro “What I could have done without…” Efrat Wald I should have invested the money‬ instead. Shelley Berman The insanely loud music. I don’t understand why it has to be so absolutely deafening.‬ Adrienne Bogatie Faribels!‬ Lara Baskin A three-course meal – at least I know my husband Justin would say that! Audrey Nowitz All of the above! I have seen elderly people who are only too happy to be out at a simcha, all done up, and leave as soon…

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All you need is love

All you need is love

Hope is part of the human disposition. You have to live in the firm belief that love comes to all, whether fast or slow…   By Chandrea Serebro Waiting for love We often read stories about people, near or far away yet in another world, but never do we think it will happen to us. This is the story of Rachel and Greg Levy*, who not only had to wait for love, but also finally found the ultimate love in their baby boy. Rachel had been dating someone seriously for…

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The celebration that never ends

The celebration that never ends

What sets Purim apart from all the other holidays? By: Robert Sussman For literally thousands of years, we have recounted each year at the Pesach seder the incredible open miracles that Hashem did for us when He took us out from Egypt. In fact, one of the paragraphs that comprises the Shema even serves to recall the exodus from Egypt more frequently for us than just annually – twice daily. Even the very first mitzvah of the Ten Commandments does not simply declare that Hashem is our G-d, but quite…

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The morning star

The morning star

A light in the darkness   By Dovid Samuels What is the most important part of the megillah? Would it be the final judgement on Haman, when he and his sons were hanged on the gallows? Perhaps when Queen Esther went in to see King Achashverosh and pleaded for the lives of the Jewish people? Maybe it was before then, when the king chose her from everyone else in the world to be his new wife after killing Vashti? The question is an unfair one, as every single part of…

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Back to school

Back to school

Giving kids the energy that they need By: Lauren Boolkin Life for me is a bit of an enigma, and definitely a case of trial and error. As for parenting…just when you think you’ve got the hang of it, along comes another curve ball. Having said that, I do think I’ve mastered the art of feeding teenage boys. What I’ve learned over the years is that it is imperative to have a constant supply of satisfying, healthy, and sometimes not so healthy, snacks on hand to get them through exams….

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Appreciating the roads we travel

Appreciating the roads we travel

The downside of wanting it all…and wanting it NOW By: Larry Hirschowitz One can often see a twinkle in their eyes when speaking to the more mature members of our community about the good old days. Despite the incredible challenges of those early years in Jewish South Africa, there is a sense that life was calmer and more serene. In current times, conversations around dinner tables frequently centre on the stresses of modern-day life; economics, politics, family squabbles, etc. Despite having more material possessions today than ever before, it appears…

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Learning about chesed

Learning about chesed

  Some lessons last a lifetime   By Chandrea Serebro School gives you so much to think about and too much to do, but Jewish learners still manage to dedicate themselves to chesed projects aimed at bettering the lives of others. Here are just a few innovative student projects that are proudly Jewish. King David Victory Park If you saw the King David Victory Park students after exiting their final exam with massive smiles on their faces, you would be forgiven for thinking that their pure and unadulterated joy was…

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Kids with a knack

Kids with a knack

More than a measure of talent to go around   By Chandrea Serebro Songs making a statement At fifteen, Shmuli Brill is no stranger to singing for a crowd. He loves music, and the ears of his listeners love him. “Music is my best friend,” he says, an old friend he loves spending time with. Shmuli is somewhat understated. He says he “enjoys singing”; it is his passion. One Friday night a few months before his bar mitzvah, Shmuli was offered to sing Yigdal at the end of the Friday…

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It can be done

It can be done

Uniting in learning for a common goal   By Chandrea Serebro The Talmud says that the study of Torah is equivalent to all of the other mitzvos because it leads to them all. This sentiment inspired Rabbi Dov Connack, Executive Director of Shaarei Torah Schools, to set out, together with the boys and the fathers of his community and beyond, on a mammoth goal: to learn together the six tractates of the Mishna (known as Shas Mishnayos) in their entirety in a single day. Rabbi Connack recalls, “Rosh Hashanah was…

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Back to the future

Back to the future

Matrics share their plans for conquering the world By: Chandrea Serebro Gila Odes, Hirsch Lyons Girls One year plan…. Choosing what to do the first year post high school is possibly one of the toughest decisions to make, as this is the first time we are the ones defining our schedules and, in a sense, defining what’s important to us…what we value. At the same time, after being in the set structure of school, we all crave the ability to do something that is our own. I have chosen to split…

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Making grocery shopping more affordable

Making grocery shopping more affordable

  Inside the new JLife online store   By Ilan Preskovsky It seems that no matter how our currency is doing on any given day or what effect an inane comment or idiotic action of a given politician has on our economy, South Africans have, for years, been facing a relentless rise in the cost of living. Every visit to your favourite retailer seems to come with a bump in price on even the most basic necessities. Indeed, it’s strange, but luxury items seem to be less affected by haywire…

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Lots of latkes

Lots of latkes

An amazing assortment of potato pancakes, plus a new take on the classic doughnut to make this Chanukah something special   By: Richard Pearce, Owner and Head Chef, Totally Kosher Soft and creamy on the inside, crispy on the outside, potato latkes (Yiddish) are as Jewish as bagels, and just as versatile. Traditionally served on Chanukah, latkes (aka potato pancakes) originated in Eastern Europe and now grace the tables of Jewish homes around the world. With the addition of a few simple ingredients, we give latkes a modern twist! For…

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Remnants of Greece

Remnants of Greece

Much of what we know as Western culture comes from that ancient empire that long ago tried to destroy us. The battle against the Greek army is long over, but the battle against the Greeks’ lingering cultural influence rages on until today.   By: Robert Sussman Our Sages teach[1] that the mitzvah of Chanukah is “Ner ish u’beiso – one candle (for) a man and his house”. Although we are accustomed to lighting more than one candle each night of Chanukah, the basic mitzvah of Chanukah is to light a…

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Behind the scenes with some of the people who make camp happen

Behind the scenes with some of the people who make camp happen

  By Chandrea Serebro Rochi Zimbler Rosh Machaneh, Camp Kesher As Vice Rosh and then Rosh of Camp Kesher, Rochi Zimbler is pretty much in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly on camp and that everyone else is doing his job. No small task when you consider that if anyone slips up or if anything doesn’t go according to plan, it’s you who has to face the music of the camp goers and the rest of the staff, and even the parents! And if you still don’t think that…

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Shining a light in the darkness

Shining a light in the darkness

  The battle between the physical and the spiritual   By: Aron Ziegler Unlike Purim, which occurred while there was still some remnant of prophecy remaining with the Jewish people, the events of the miracles of Chanukah could not be immortalised in our Holy Scriptures as our prophetic abilities were no more. In order to remind us of the extraordinary miracles that Hashem did for us in those days, the Rabbis chose to build upon the seemingly insignificant miracle of “the small jar of oil lasting longer than expected” and…

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Climb every mountain

Climb every mountain

  Bitten by the travel bug   By Chandrea Serebro Most often you don’t even feel it when the bug bites. You didn’t know it was coming, you never even knew it was there, and you only realise you’ve been bitten when you’re already somewhere you had never dreamed you would ever be. Lance Abramson realised how fully he had been bitten on a Shabbos walk one day, after a nice kosher lunch, revelling in G-ds world and enjoying just being. On mount Kilimanjaro, that is, the highest mountain in…

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Get your motor running…head out on the highway

Get your motor running…head out on the highway

Planning a road trip this holiday? Start thinking about how you can stay safe now. Here are a few tips from the experts to help you get ready for the big day.   By Chandrea Serebro Ilan Sommer, Auto Electrician, Martin’s Auto Electrical – 011 837 8428 A few years ago, I came across an article about a family who’d packed up their car and set off for a wonderful holiday and some good family bonding time. Shortly into the trip, one of the younger members of the family, who was…

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Sometimes we need to fight

Sometimes we need to fight

Waging an impossible battle: to fuse physicality with spirituality   By: Dovid Samuels On Chanukah, we celebrate a miraculous victory in our battle against the Greek Empire. The question is, why did we, as a people, decide to stand up against our tormentors and wage war with them, when so many other times in Jewish history, Purim being one of them, we made a national decision to avoid fighting and instead engage in more spiritual activities like communal fasting and prayer? What is the appropriate Jewish response towards our enemies:…

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Chesed Around the World – One GIFT at a time

Chesed Around the World –  One GIFT at a time

  By Ilan Preskovsky There are few acts in Judaism more fundamental and more important than the act of giving, and few qualities of character more fundamental and important than being someone who gives. The most obvious manifestation of this is the giving of tzedakah, charity, to those less fortunate than ourselves. But giving comes in many forms and takes on many different guises. Yes, there’s giving money, but there’s also giving someone employment; giving of your time as a volunteer; and even giving just enough of yourself to brighten…

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Living with pain

Living with pain

  Those suffering from a chronic illness know it’s the bane of their life and something that few people who aren’t experiencing this for themselves can truly understand. But there is hope, and ways to create light in the tunnel with positivity, support, and a change in perspective.   By Chandrea Serebro Lori Osrin Lori Osrin is 32 years old and is grateful to be here, well enough, to tell her story today. Years ago, she was told by a doctor that she must prepare for complete blindness and practice…

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Breaking the stigma

Breaking the stigma

Creating a sisterhood to help those suffering from post-natal depression   By Chandrea Serebro You’re alone. You’re in the room, your newest, sweetest addition to the family is gurgling at you, you’re surrounded by friends, family, and well-wishers, and yet, you have no one. The household routine buzzes around you like the muffled sound of a far-off dancehall. Your mind is racing, crazy thoughts, out of control. Like a train, derailed, little help as you watch the coach that is your thoughts twist this way and that. Nervous, edgy, anxious…and…

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Not for all the money in the world

Not for all the money in the world

Some things just can’t be bought   By Chandrea Serebro We Jews don’t know what sacrifice is these days…at least not since the Second Temple was destroyed anyways. Modern living has made Shabbos the heart and soul of Jewish life, so central to Jewish life that it takes precedence over everything, but Jewish life itself; so easy that we never really have to lack for much or feel like we are giving up too much either. With our Shabbos lamps, our Shabbos alarm clocks, our Shabbos lifts, our Shabbos belts,…

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Spending Shabbos in the hospital

Spending Shabbos in the hospital

Lifting the spirits of patients and their families   By Ilan Preskovsky As any even remotely shomer Shabbos Jew knows, Friday is a flurry of activity, a continuous rush to get ready for, ironically enough, our weekly day of rest. It’s incredible; it’s always a rush, and, even if you have to make use of those extra 18 minutes before sunset to finish your last-minute preparations, it almost always works out in the end. Best of all, it seems to make little difference whether it’s winter or the height of…

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Faith Accompli – When some things have to be believed to be seen

Faith Accompli – When some things have to be believed to be seen

  By Rabbi Dr David Fox Following my lecture, the woman approached me. An Orthodox nurse and midwife, she had attended my neuroscience course during a sabbatical from Israel. She asked if she might have a discussion about something puzzling her as a religious health professional. I immediately consented, always eager to explore the interface between health, science, and spirituality. She was a skilled paediatric nurse at a large Israeli hospital in a large charedi community. She specialised in neonatal intensive care, and was usually present during complicated deliveries. What…

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Making magical memories

Making magical memories

Seeing twenty terminally ill kids enjoy life to the fullest on the Hope Tour is like watching life, unfiltered. And it’s catching.   By Chandrea Serebro The sound of Benny Friedman’s Toda!, the title track off his hit album, reverberates around Waverly. It’s around ten in the morning and looking around you’ll see a bunch of guys dancing and singing with the tune at a decadent breakfast hosted by a gracious member of the South African community who has gone all out, as is done here in South Africa, for…

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Weapon of mass destruction

Weapon of mass destruction

It’s not just the pen that’s mightier than the sword   By: Robert Sussman The Torah tells us that, after the Jewish people left Egypt, Balak, the King of the nation of Moav, saw how powerful we had become, crushing other nations, and he was afraid of us. One of the great rules of battle is to “know your enemy”, and Balak was desperate to find a strategy to defeat us. And, as is even the case with the present-day military victories of the Jewish people, Balak and the Moabite…

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Chesed Around the World – LINKed together

Chesed Around the World – LINKed together

  Catering to the needs of children and teenagers who are faced with the devastating loss of a parent   By Ilan Preskovsky Like so many great ideas, LINKS – an organisation dedicated to helping Jewish children and teenagers who lost one or both parents – came from the most humble of beginnings. Sarah Rivkah Kohn was nine years old when her mother passed away and, as an only child, she always sought out other children who were in a similar situation – children who could understand what she was…

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Kosher Gourmet – Passionate cooking

Kosher Gourmet – Passionate cooking

  Some scrumptious ideas for Yom Tov Text by Jade Singer, recipes by Sharon Newfield Sharon Newfield, mother of two wonderful boys, works for Hatzolah and is an avid chef in the kitchen. Despite not being employed as a chef, her meals are always wholesome, delicious, and made with her passion for cooking. Whether it’s a supper during the week, a pop-by cup of tea, or a meal on Shabbos and Yom Tov, all of her guests are excited to be part of her table. Sharon’s love and warmth cannot…

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Finding light in the darkness

Finding light in the darkness

The incredible story of Der Blinde Chazzan, Cantor Abe Immerman By: Moira Schneider Being blind virtually from birth and orphaned from the age of five was no bar to Cantor Abe Immerman’s lifetime of service to the Jewish community. Known as “Der Blinde Chazzan”, he had memorised the entire Torah off by heart, including, quite incredibly, the trop (its musical cantillation), as well as all the synagogue services by the time he was in his mid-twenties and went on to lead many congregations around the country. And now broadcast journalist…

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The world that was

The world that was

The memories of Yeoville of yesteryear are ingrained in the psyche of many South African Jews today. No faribles please – we remember just the tip of this much-loved South African shtetl’s iceberg.   By Chandrea Serebro Yeoville. What started out advertised as a “sanitarium for the rich” where the air was clearer because it was upper-middle class aspirations high on the ridge overlooking the dirt of the smoky mining town of Johannesburg, the city of gold, soon became a hive of multi-culturalism with a distinctly Jewish flavour. While the…

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Hugo’s Heroes

Hugo’s Heroes

An invaluable community service to make our schools safer   By Ilan Preskovsky There’s probably no one in our Jewish community unfamiliar with Hugo Paluch; no one who wasn’t touched by how this fourteen-year-old boy tragically died from injuries sustained by a freak accident at school or how the community pulled together as one to daven for Hugo and to provide emotional and physical support for his family. It wasn’t just the Johannesburg Jewish community either, as his story has truly gone global – incredibly, so widespread is his impact…

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Sweets for my sweets, sugar for my honey

Sweets for my sweets, sugar for my honey

Honey is a key feature of the Rosh HaShanah table – but ever wondered where it comes from and why it’s kosher?   By Chandrea Serebro One of the enduring features of the Rosh Hashanah table, and one that the kids and even most adults love the most, is the honey pot. It’s a sweet year we are after, and all the better that we get to indulge in this most wonderful of natural sweetness that is honey to symbolise that. It’s not for no reason that the land of…

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There’s no such thing as a bad Jew

There’s no such thing as a bad Jew

  We’re all works in progress   By: Robert Sussman There’s a famous Midrash[1] on the verse[2] that contains the Torah commandment to take the arba minim (the four species) – aka the esrog (citron), the lulav (date palm branch), the hadassim (myrtle branches), and the aravos (willow branches) on the first day of Sukkos. The Midrash ascribes several allusions to the arba minim, but I’d like to focus on one of them in particular:   The esrog (citron) which has a taste and a fragrance – this is an…

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Making the case for Yom Kippur

Making the case for Yom Kippur

Waking up late and finding ourselves in the midst of the Ten Days of Repentance   By: Robert Sussman When we think about many things in Judaism, we unfortunately tend to associate non-Jewish ideas with them. What do people normally do in the non-Jewish world when New Year’s rolls around? Yeah, besides drink a lot, they make resolutions – they make New Year’s resolutions. “This year, I’m going to join a gym!” “This year, I’m going on a diet!” “This year, I’m going to more shiurim!” But the Jewish new…

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The “head” of the year

The “head” of the year

  Believing in the gift of absolute limitless   By: Dovid Samuels Rosh Hashanah literally means the head of the year. All of the characteristics of Hashem in the way He conducts Himself with this world correspond to the limbs of our body. It is perhaps for this very reason that we have the limbs that we have in our bodies, to have some sort of physical way of relating to otherwise illusive spiritual concepts. It is no mere coincidence that Rosh Hashanah is called the “head” of the year….

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Empowering and promoting real choice

Empowering and promoting real choice

  Saving the lives of tens of thousands of unborn Jewish children   By Ilan Preskovsky Like virtually every other civilised country in the world, the debate about abortion has been raging on in Israel ever since it was legalised in the country in 1977, but for the Efrat Organisation, rather than trying to tackle the question politically as yet another group of “pro-life” activists, they have instead taken the approach of giving mothers who are considering terminating their pregnancy due to financial problems or other outside pressures a wider…

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In the presence of greatness

In the presence of greatness

What I learned about leadership from my father-in-law, Rabbi Azriel Chaim Goldfein   By: Leonard Carr In 1985, just before Rosh Hashana, I made what turned out to be the best decision of my life. I attended a shiur of Rabbi Azriel Chaim Goldfein, ztzl, to whom this Project Shalom series is dedicated. Shalom was the central theme and guiding principle of his life. During that shiur, which I have and continue to revisit, I decided that Rabbi Goldfein would be my Rebbe and that I would follow him for…

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The show must go on

The show must go on

The Jewish women of Joburg prove that they’ve got talent   By Chandrea Serebro No longer the playtime antics of girls dressing up, women’s theatre is becoming more and more popular in the Jewish world as religious women explore their talents for all things related to theatre, including singing, dancing, acting, and production, which would otherwise be out of bounds. It’s popular in Israel, America, and England, and it’s catching on here as well with Linda Zulberg’s production entitled ‘The Fortunate Two’ set to come to stage in early September…

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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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