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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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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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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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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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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Going Crazy Over Israel

Going Crazy Over Israel

The Astounding True Case Of Jerusalem Syndrome By Ilan Preskovsky In Neil Gaiman’s latest short story collection, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, among the master fantasist’s usual assortment of tales of werewolves, hellhounds, and Time Lords, there is a singularly disturbing story about a middle-aged British couple who, on their first visit to Jerusalem, come face-to-face with a particularly strange kind of insanity; an intensely religious, messianic delusional state that is caused by nothing less than the city itself. Unlike the rest of the stories around it, though, the…

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Man As The Pinnacle Of Creation

Man As The Pinnacle Of Creation

The Explanation Behind A Mysterious Revolution In Human Behaviour By: Professor Nathan Aviezer One of the most interesting subjects in our Holy Torah is the creation of Man. We read in Genesis 1:27: Elokim created man in His image; in the image of Elokim, He created him; male and female, He created them. However, the origin of Man is described again in the second chapter of Genesis (2:7): HaShem Elokim formed man from the dust of the earth, and He breathed into his nostrils the soul of life, and man…

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Disagreements Between Torah And Science

Disagreements Between Torah And Science

Can we learn to live with questions?   By: David Levin Throughout history, the wisdom of Torah has often come into conflict with the wisdom of the secular, natural sciences. The fact is these two spheres of study appear to contradict each other in many, many ways. These contradictions are not new and neither are the approaches people have taken when confronted by these contradictions. Rather than discuss ways to approach specific contradictions, I’d like to discuss in general terms how to deal with these contradictions. Almost all people can…

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Mimouna

Mimouna

A Post-Pesach Moroccan Celebration Of Freedom, Faith, And Fortune By Chandrea Serebro Sephardi Jews have an incredibly rich heritage, liberally peppered with all things spicy and spiritual. And Pesach is no exception, where you’ll find a Moroccan tradition to lovingly prepare the first chometz that is eaten after the end of Pesach into traditional breads and sweet cakes, rather than just waiting in line to get the first piece of pizza you can get your hands on. It’s a night of feasting filled with all things anti-banting: baked goods as…

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Exodus

Exodus

Taking a fresh look at Aliyah By Chandrea Serebro Exodus. The very word inspires images of an epic journey across deserts and through seas, of a liberated people on the cusp of nationhood. And it resonates particularly for us South Africans, who relive it each year at the Pesach seder along with Jews everywhere, but who perhaps toy with the idea a bit more often than most others who reside outside that most holy of places. Making Aliyah obviously comes with great sacrifice, giving up the great South African legacy…

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Learning To See Difficult Times As For Our Own Good

Learning To See Difficult Times As For Our Own Good

Arriving At An Answer To The Question: Why? By: Dovid Samuels One of the most powerful and famous events in Jewish history has to be the grand finale of the exodus from Egypt. After 10 terrifying plagues that broke a nation, the fury of their hatred led the Egyptians to wage one final attack against us. The battleground was perhaps the most perilous for the Jewish people; deep waters in front of us, desert and beasts to our sides, and a raging army striding towards us with unbridled animosity. With…

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A Month We Can Count On

A Month We Can Count On

Why Hashem Chose To Redeem Us In Nisan By: Robert Sussman   The Hebrew month of Nisan is, without a doubt, a very special month. After all, it’s the month that Hashem chose to take us out from Egypt and openly reveal to the world, for the first time in history, that He was its Creator and demonstrate His total and utter control over every aspect of Creation via the many miracles that He did for us. In fact, Moshe’s father-in-law, Yisro, who was known for having studied all of…

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Making The Perfect Simcha

Making The Perfect Simcha

Advice from the professionals so you can sit-back, relax, and enjoy your big day By Chandrea Serebro   CHUPAS Weddings are beautiful, yet no one can deny that they can also be stressful af-fairs. Too often, many wedding parties get so stuck in the details of the look and feel of the wedding that they lose sight of the end goal: the happiness of the chosson and kallah standing under the chupa, get-ting married! One of the essentials is choosing a nice chupa within your budget to help add to the visual…

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Leaving Things To Chance

Leaving Things To Chance

How Purim Got Its Name By: Robert Sussman Megilas Esther, the book from the Hebrew Bible which we read twice on Purim, tells us in its text that Purim was so called because of the pur – the lot – that was thrown by the wicked Haman in order to determine the date on which he would destroy the Jewish people.[1] Rather than just choose a date on which to kill the Jews, Haman instead held a lottery to decide, a seemingly insignificant detail among all of his considerable planning…

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How to Write an Amazing Simcha Speech

How to Write an Amazing Simcha Speech

By: Aviva Blumstein It should be a moment of nachas and joy: your child’s simcha. But instead, you’re sweating, feeling slightly queasy, and half-wishing the event was over. All because of a conspiracy of poised, eloquent parents who, years ago, made a “parent speech” standard for Jewish events of note. Even if you’re usually a good writer, for some reason here you can’t find the right words. Your emotions overwhelm you. My child is so special and this event is so important, you think – either consciously or subconsciously. How…

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Scaling Things Down A Bit

Scaling Things Down A Bit

Putting The Simcha Back Where It Belongs By Chandrea Serebro The other day I was helping out a friend who was due to be the master of ceremonies at an upcoming wedding.  We decided he should start his speech with a joke. Have you heard the one about the guy who wanted to make his daughter the best wedding ever? One couple he knew hosted their daughter’s wedding on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean and other friends booked out an entire island in the Indian Ocean. Desperate not to…

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Getting Drunk

Getting Drunk

Until You Don’t Know What? By Dovid Samuels One of the most anticipated but strange parts of our Purim celebrations (besides for dressing up) is the obligation to get drunk. The source for this obligation is in the Talmud where we are instructed to become drunk [with wine] until we no longer can differentiate between ‘accursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordechai’. Apparently, understanding simply, we must get drunk…and very drunk, it seems. The point where you don’t know the difference between Aror Haman and Boruch Mordechai is really quite far;…

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Turning A Holiday On Its Head

Turning A Holiday On Its Head

Turning a holiday on its head By: Isaac Ansell Forsyth On a sunny Thursday morning in the holy city of Jerusalem, Yeshivat Shapell’s -Darche Noam embarked on a unique chesed mission. The yeshiva boys journeyed to a humble building in the city’s Ramat Rachel neighbourhood, where they were suited-up with labourer’s apparel, and introduced to some heavy machinery. Ninety minutes later, several kilos of rice had been packaged for distribution to hungry families all around Israel. Pantry Packers is a food-distribution initiative of Colel Chabad. Founded by Rabbi Shneur Zalman…

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