Editor’s Letter

Editor’s Letter

For the past few months, the community has been davening for Leah bat Toby and then, after a name was added, Chaya Leah bat Toby. What most people probably didn’t realise is that Chaya Leah bat Toby was our very own friend and colleague, Linda Superfain (nee Koz), a”h. A devoted mother, daughter, sister, and friend, who took ill suddenly and recently passed away. Linda leaves behind her beloved husband, Wayne, and their two boys, Steve and Josh; her mother and father, Neville and Thelma (married almost 50 years!); a…

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Reading and the art of mind maintenance

Reading and the art of mind maintenance

Blast off to different worlds without ever leaving the comforts of your bed By Chandrea Serebro Reading is possibly the most underrated skill we learn as human beings, despite being one of the most beloved past times. It boosts the imagination, sparks curiosity, provides escape, and reduces stress. It feeds the brain, elevates the soul, and exercises the mind. It provides hours and worlds of entertainment, to anyone, anywhere, about anything. Countless studies and research has shown the benefits of reading – impacting every area of development and potential. “The…

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A shot in the arm

A shot in the arm

Saving lives and preventing irreparable harm By Chandrea Serebro Modern medicine has come up with ways to counteract many of the most fatal diseases in history, saving lives every day, and it is working day and night to find new ways towards preventing those that it hasn’t managed to quell yet. Among the many great inventions of medicine are included numerous vaccines, many in the last 100 years, that have stopped dangerous and deadly infectious diseases such as polio and measles from wreaking havoc. Countless millions upon millions of lives…

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Confronting a spiritual crisis

Confronting a spiritual crisis

Legacy 613, putting prayer at the forefront of Jewish education By: Ilan Preskovsky Within the world of religious observance, prayer holds a particularly special place. While Torah learning gives us greater understanding of what we’re doing here and observance of the mitzvot elevates and challenges our everyday existence, it is primarily through prayer – through what we call davening or tefillah – that we draw ourselves close to our Creator. At least, that’s the theory. The reality today, sadly, is that prayer, and the resulting spirituality that comes with it,…

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Climb every mountain

Climb every mountain

From bully to boxer and mentor By Chandrea Serebro Self-proclaimed “impossible kid” who went on to become a world champion and to champion the world of disabled kids, Itai Liptz has pretty much done it all and still dreams of doing more. Now as CEO of Mexem, a Financial Services Company that he founded, Itai reflects on having been given a repeated dose of “luck” during a tumultuous journey that he admits was “not too easy on him”. A journey that led him to help kids who don’t have it…

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Breaking new ground

Breaking new ground

Taking Jewish day school education online By Ilan Preskovsky You don’t have to have any children in school (or any children at all, really) to be acutely aware that school fees are one of the biggest expenses and greatest worries of nearly any Jewish parent in this country. The monthly cost of sending even one child, let alone a whole brood of kids, to a Jewish day school is enough to make medical aid expenses look reasonable. And, this is before you start paying for extra lessons, extra-curricular activities, set…

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Re-treading for the miles ahead

Re-treading for the miles ahead

Celebrating the ‘re-tyre-ment’ of a South African legend, Rabbi Z.S. Suchard By Chandrea Serebro Rabbi Tzadok Shmuel Suchard remembers his very first Shabbos at Sandton Shul. Shul was finishing for the night, and the Chairman began switching off the lights. His son, accustomed to the world of the Telz Yeshiva in Cleveland where he had been born, asked him: What are we doing here dad? “We are going to teach them my son,” Rabbi Suchard answered. And, after 46 years at the helm, it’s a goal he feels he accomplished…

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Give me a break

Give me a break

Sometimes you have to follow Plan B By: Aron Ziegler Rather amazingly, the verses in the Chumash which instruct us about the festival of Shavuot do not state that it is the festival commemorating the giving of the Torah. Instead, the Torah refers to Shavuot as, alternatively, the “festival of the harvest of the first fruits (Bikurei) of your labour”[1]; “festival of weeks…the first (- Bikurei) wheat harvest”[2]; or “(The holy convocation of) Bikurim” – ‘First fruits’ or “first offerings”[3]. Although there is what to debate[4], nevertheless tradition has us…

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Did you say dairy?

Did you say dairy?

Blintzes and crepes for Shavuos By: Richard Pearce, Owner and Head Chef Totally Kosher Shavuos is a celebration of the giving of the Torah. It is Hashem and His Torah that have preserved and been the motivating force of the Jewish people’s existence throughout the ages. Cultures, diets, languages, and countries of residence all change, yet Torah remains constant because it is founded on unconditional truth, the only kind of truth that can continue to insure the unique existence of the Jewish people despite all odds. The Torah was given…

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Sharing the spotlight

Sharing the spotlight

A broken Shabbos lamp inspires a home-grown source of illumination By Chandrea Serebro Ray Wainman is a 73-year young Jewish South African man born in Vereeniging who has a flair for all things handy. A regular amateur handyman to his family and friends, five years ago, while visiting his sister Sharon Bolel and her husband Rabbi Shem, Ray was handed his sister’s Shabbos lamp to fix. It was “falling apart” in her estimation, and she told her brother that she was on the verge of having to buy another costly…

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Buried treasure!

Buried treasure!

An unexpected discovery opens a window into the history of the Johannesburg Jewish community By Chandrea Serebro What does Johannesburg have in common with the Qumran Caves? If it were a bad pub joke, I’m sure I would have been booed off the stage by now, but you’d be surprised, and, I’m sure, eager to discover that we actually do indeed share something amazing with this group of eleven caves in the West Bank, the site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Like all good stories, it starts…

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We will do, and we will understand

We will do, and we will understand

  Using the apple tree as a source of strength By: Dovid Samuels At the greatest moment of our history, when we received the holy Torah at Mount Sinai, we made an important declaration to Hashem: Na’aseh v’nishma – We will do and we will hear (understand). This means that we, collectively, made a commitment to fulfil the mitzvos of the Torah, in their entirety, before even fully understanding what each mitzvah means, or whether we were even able to do it. Our Sages teach us that upon making this…

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Forever changed

Forever changed

Facing challenges head on and choosing to make a difference in other people’s lives By Chandrea Serebro “With a busy career as a casting agent in the television and film industry, there was little time to ever slow down. But, the day of my late stage breast cancer diagnosis in 2014, everything came to a screeching halt.” Addi Lang found herself “living every woman’s nightmare”: “life in cancerland – a rollercoaster experience; feelings of shock, denial, fear, guilt, and depression.” But Addi was determined to change the course of her journey,…

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Promoting a society of inclusion

Promoting a society of inclusion

Seeing children as children – not labels – despite their enormous challenges By Ilan Preskovsky Based on the ideals of “inclusion, community, fun”, Shutaf is an Israeli organisation, based in Jerusalem, which is perhaps best known for bringing the American institution of summer camps to Israeli children and teenagers – both for children with and without special needs, but catering specifically to children with physical, developmental, or emotional disabilities. As its co-founder and co-director, Beth Steinberg, is quick to stress, this isn’t a “special needs” camp where children are seen…

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The Divine Decrees of the King

The Divine Decrees of the King

By: Robert Sussman Our Sages teach a fundamental concept: the beginning of a thing includes within it everything that will come afterwards, while the end of a thing serves to reinforce the beginning. In other words, the beginning of something serves as a preface, like a general discourse on a matter, with all of the details to follow thereafter, and the end of that thing serves to emphasise and support what was contained in the beginning. With this idea in mind, let’s take a closer look at the first and…

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Charity multiplied

Charity multiplied

Creating a wildly successful marketing and fundraising solution for non-profits By Ilan Preskosvky Over the past few years, I have profiled some truly remarkable charitable/chesed organisations from across the globe, but they are no doubt just a smattering of the hundreds of similarly incredible Jewish organisations out there whose sole purpose is to improve the lives of others – those of both their fellow Jews and the wider human race. What is often at the centre of their biggest challenges, quite predictably though, is raising the kinds of funds needed…

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To Israel, with love

To Israel, with love

Harnessing the world-wide power of social media to spread and share good news, while fighting the many lies being spread By Chandrea Serebro You know how much you love Israel? Imagine you could do something to show her…without even leaving your house. That is just what the developers of the Act.IL app had in mind; an online platform that is creating a community to promote a positive influence on the international public opinion towards the State of Israel via social media platforms, explains Yaron Fishelson, Head of Product and Community for Act.IL,…

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Answering the call

Answering the call

Celebrating 50 years since they volunteered to help during the ‘67 Six Day War By Chandrea Serebro “When word got out that Israel, surrounded on three fronts, was under attack, we headed directly to the SA Zionist Federation to volunteer in whatever way we could,” says Larry Osrin. At 19 years old, Larry was on one of the first planes of South Africans arriving in Israel as volunteers to help out during the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and her neighbours Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. “We arrived on day…

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Lost…and found

Lost…and found

Following the signs home By: Rabbi Dr David Fox On a trip to Jerusalem in the mid-1980s, I joined a celebration held by relatives in a small hotel. It was a little off the beaten path and when Friday afternoon neared a dusky close, I decided that I would find my way to the Kotel for Shabbos services. In those days, most of the city was safe for strolling pedestrians and I had always loved the walk of contrasts through the “Arab Shuk” as I passed through an old-world atmosphere…

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Partnership2Gether

Partnership2Gether

Twins that are one of a kind By Chandrea Serebro If you think of Am Yisrael as a nation of people living around the world, then it wouldn’t surprise you to know that we have a twin in Israel. And while we look nothing like her, we are busy reconnecting with her. This twin is Beit Shemesh and the surrounding area Mateh Yehuda, a rural oasis between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that we are privileged to call our family thanks to the Israel Centre’s P2G programme – Partnership 2Gether. The…

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Same, but different

Same, but different

Letting pictures tell the story By Chandrea Serebro Instagram – it’s instant success, instant exposure, like many social media platforms. But, here, its language is in pictures, and it is this visual communication that is quickly making it the fastest growing social network. With over 200 million monthly active users and over 30 billion shared photos, that’s some pull in this world where connections are made online and perceptions formed through photos. Keeping on the pulse, The SA-Israel Visual Diversity Dialogue, an initiative of the South African Friends of Israel…

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Soldiering on

Soldiering on

Some support for those going it alone in the defence of Israel By Ilan Preskovsky It’s hard to think of a more Israeli concept than that of the lone soldier: someone who comes from another country to serve their Homeland in the Israeli Defence Force and, as such, do not have any immediate family living in the country. These visiting volunteers or new immigrants have to deal with all that naturalised Israeli soldiers have to face in the military – not least of which being the immense psychological and emotional…

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Kosher Gourmet – Not your average Pesach

Kosher Gourmet – Not your average Pesach

Text by Jade Singer, recipes by Sharon Newfield Pesach in the Newfield household is no ordinary one! The buzz of people is constant (because it’s a meal you can get nowhere else), and the food…well the food can only be described as mind-altering; it’s hard to believe that any of it is pesadik. Whether it’s all Sharon’s homemade jams and chutneys , pesadik rolls, her meat dishes that are just beyond Juicy and delicious, or her scrumptious dessert filled with love from her Bobba’s recipes, one has to admit that…

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Israel at 70

Israel at 70

So much to celebrate! By: Bev Goldman The dramatic but so-longed-for birth of the State of Israel in 1948 heralded renewed life and new hope for millions of people: the chalutzim who had begun building Israel, draining the swamps, and preparing the land for agriculture beginning in the late 19th century; the almost 900 000 Jewish refugees who were forced to flee the persecution they suffered at the hands of Arab leaders in Arab countries in which they had previously lived relatively peacefully for hundreds of years; survivors of the…

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Plagued with troubles

Plagued with troubles

Some deeper insights into the many afflictions that Hashem visited upon the Egyptians By: Aron Ziegler The modern Pesach Haggadah is chiefly a text that guides us in the performance of our obligation to relate the story of our being redeemed from having been slaves in Egypt. The title ‘Haggadah’, ‘The telling over’, is drawn from the large ‘Magid’, ‘Narration’, section which, in turn, stems from the Torah verse, “And you shall narrate (v’higadeta) to your child on that day (Pesach eve) saying ‘for this reason did Hashem do (all…

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School’s out

School’s out

But the shteiging continues By Chandrea Serebro Most diligent students worry when they leave their place of learning, whether it be a school, a university, a Beis Midrash, or a Yeshiva, for a holiday or a break that they will lose out. They worry that they will lose not only their flow in whatever it is they were engaged with, but even that they might lose some of the knowledge already gained – or at the very least the groove of their studies and the ease and comfort developed over…

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Pharaoh and pajamas

Pharaoh and pajamas

Memories of Pesach with Uncle Baruch By: Rabbi Dr David Fox He was not really our uncle, but my parents had befriended them. He and his wife were survivors of Auschwitz and had lost everything during the war. They had also lost their only son. Part of a large group of survivors who made it to America after the war, they had been trained to raise chickens in order to have employment, and were then relocated across the country. One part of the group settled on the East Coast and…

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Raise your glass

Raise your glass

Celebrating salvation…or servitude? By: Dovid Samuels One of the mitzvos that we are commanded to fulfil on the Seder night is to drink four cups of wine. Even the poorest among us, who rely on charity for their food, should be given enough to buy no less than four cups, for the mitzvah. Many reasons are given by our Sages[1] as to why we need specifically four cups. One reason, and perhaps the most well-known, is that there were four terms referring to our rescue from Egypt: hotzaysi (took me…

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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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