I’m positive

I’m positive

Some points to ponder before making a hasty exit for seemingly greener pastures By: Robert Sussman As an American residing in South Africa, it’s certainly interesting living in a place where everyone has an “exit plan” – an idea of where to go when things reach the point that it’s “time to leave”. After nearly 14 years of living here, I still haven’t gotten used to this very foreign attitude. In America, if something’s broken, we work on fixing it, not jumping ship. Rabbi Azriel Chaim Goldfein, z”l, used to…

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Like an angel among men

Like an angel among men

Menachem Begin lived by the maxim that a Jew should never hate another Jew and, the truth is, we all should live by that adage By: Robert Sussman We have certain commandments that are bein adam l’chaveiro, between man and his fellow man: to love our fellow as we love ourselves; not to hate our fellow; not to bear a grudge against him; not to take revenge against him.[1] These aren’t easy mitzvos. In fact, I once gave a series of shiurim regarding them and one of the attendees turned…

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Putting on the brakes

Putting on the brakes

Sometimes the most important thing we can do with our mouth…is close it By: Robert Sussman There is an emphasis today in the Jewish world on learning about loshen hara, the laws related to proper speech, which include avoiding speaking slander, gossip, or in a derogatory manner about people. But there is another point that is even more important and fundamental than this. There is a general quality that’s call shtikah, silence, and not even necessarily from loshen hara, but total silence, ie. holding one’s tongue. When it comes to…

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A meal fit for a king

A meal fit for a king

Some very special dishes to share with your family and guests this Yom Tov season By: Karen Schneid of Ooh La La Confectionery Rosh Hashanah is my favourite Jewish holiday. With jasmine in full bloom and blossoms budding everywhere, the season of new beginnings is cause for a celebration of life itself. When we created our home, I knew I wanted a long table in both the kitchen and the dining room. A long table signals that we are ready at the drop of a hat for a dinner party….

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A Home for the Divine

A Home for the Divine

Building our own personal Temple and living in it all year round By Dovid Samuels It’s the end of a long fast. After drinking that first cup of water and enjoying the taste of food for the first time in 26 hours, we can chalk up another successful Yom Kippur. Instead of flopping into bed, the halacha calls on us to muster up some superhuman strength and do the last thing that would otherwise be on our minds: go outside and build a sukkah! The Rema[1] notes that those who…

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The power of speech

The power of speech

The unique quality of man to which so much of the Viduy – the confession that we recite repeatedly during the many days leading up to and on Yom Kippur – is devoted By: Aron Ziegler On Rosh Hashana we commemorate ‘the birthday of the world’. The first of Tishrei, Rosh HaShana, is actually the anniversary of the creation of man, who was created on the 6th day of creation.[1] The principle feature of man that distinguishes him as being in a totally unique class of creation from all of…

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The Shalva Band

The Shalva Band

Reaching people through music, while empowering those with disabilities By Ilan Preskovsky Taking place in Tel Aviv this year, the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 was an even more controversial, often contentious event than usual. From questions about the Jewish State hosting the competition over Shabbos to the usual brow beating by anti-Israel activists who wanted Eurovision to boycott Israel, it was a hot-topic conversation starter even for those who don’t usually care about musical talent shows in general, let alone the oft-mocked Eurovision Song Contest. With all of this going…

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The incredible story of the salvation of Bulgaria’s Jews during World War II continues …

The incredible story of the salvation of Bulgaria’s Jews during World War II continues …

The incredible story of the salvation of Bulgaria’s Jews during World War II continues, this time from a more personal perspective By: Ilan Preskovsky In the last issue of Jewish Life, we featured one of the most astounding, but far too little-known story of how Tzar Boris III of Bulgaria saved 48 000 Jews from certain death during the Holocaust. But, as we quickly found out, there was much more to the story. While there is a lot to recommend about the more objective, purely historical view of the heroic…

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An Emotional Band Aid

An Emotional Band Aid

Making the worst day of someone’s life a little bit better By Chandrea Serebro Hatzolah is one of the South African community’s greatest treasures, and when they add to their vault the entire community becomes richer. And now that Hatzolah has added the Crisis Response Unit (CRU) to its glowing chest, the community will be the one that benefits the most. Psychological First Aid is like an “emotional band aid” which helps in ways that medicine cannot, offered on-scene to the people who are the “collateral damage” at every emergency…

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The miracle of life

The miracle of life

It’s not over…until Hashem says it is By Chandrea Serebro It was late Thursday night, filled with anticipation. Moments before the birth, the monitors started to beep and blink, going crazy. The rhythmic sound of his heartbeat began to drop and then very quickly disappeared into an abyss of silence. He was born quickly. His mother hardly saw him. All she could see was her pale, grey baby lying limp, receiving resuscitation attempts by the frantic medical personnel in the room. She didn’t see any movement. She didn’t see the…

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Making Kosher affordable

Making Kosher affordable

Some vegetarian dishes to make your mouth water and your family happy By: Richard Pearce, Chef Patron, Totally Kosher The team at Totally Kosher has brought you some vegetarian recipes that are easy to do at home and enjoy. If you’re not up to making the dishes, we will do the work for you. Have a look at our frozen meal selection and freshly prepared dinner box offerings feeding a family of four, email us at info@totallykosher.co.za or call us on 011 430-1940 (speak with Mandy). Red pepper pesto Ingredients 2 large red bell peppers,…

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Walking in David Labkovski’s Footsteps

Walking in David Labkovski’s Footsteps

Using art to recall a world that was By Alexa Price A few months ago, I was not very conscious of my family’s roots. I knew of a foreign country called Lithuania and was interested to discover my heritage. From the end of March until the beginning of April 2019, I was invited to Lithuania as an ambassador of the David Labkovski Project. I also represented my school, Yeshiva College, and South Africa on the tour – Walking in Labkovski’s Footsteps. David Labkovski was an artist from Vilna who bore…

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Overdue Recognition

Overdue Recognition

The little-known story of how the Bulgarian Tsar saved nearly 50 000 Jews during the Holocaust By Ilan Preskovsky Considering the tumultuous history of the country in the early (and indeed later) 20th Century, it is perhaps fitting that Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria was a complicated man and a, perhaps, even more complicated leader. He allied himself with Nazi Germany during World War II and even allowed a pair of his ministers to draft and enact laws in Bulgaria that would have much the same effect as Germany’s Nuremberg…

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An unsuspecting hero

An unsuspecting hero

Inside Operation Brothers, the covert, mass evacuation of Ethiopian Jews from of the Sudan By Chandrea Serebro Daniel Limor is the unsuspecting hero – not that he didn’t choose a position of leadership, having nurtured strong decision making skills since the age of 16 when he made Aliyah from Uruguay alone. His family couldn’t go at the time for various reasons, but they did soon follow three years later, when Daniel was entering the Israeli Defense Force for his national service. But in that time, Daniel had to fend for…

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The man who opened the Talmud to everyone

The man who opened the Talmud to everyone

Ira Zlotowitz reflects on the life of his father, Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, the Founder of Artscroll By Ilan Preskovsky Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, z”l, was a Torah and business leader of singular impact. As the founder and head of Artscroll Mesorah publishing (along with Rabbi Nosson Scherman, who was his business partner, collaborator, and close friend since Artscroll’s inception in the mid ‘70s until Rabbi Zlotowitz’s death in June 2017), Rabbi Zlotowitz touched the lives of countless Jews across the world with an ever-growing series of books that include siddurim, chumashim,…

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It’s only rock ‘n roll

It’s only rock ‘n roll

They found fame and fortune, but realised they needed something more By Chandrea Serebro In her bright and airy flat in the heart of Jewish Glenhazel, Wanda Crouse is every bit as elegant as she was fifty years ago. She is a proud granny whose eyes glint with merely a hint of tension when she considers which of her grandchildren inherited her talents, something she is loath to pass on. Demure, few would guess that this articulate granny with a smack of the old English accent of her birth was…

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Leader to us, parent to them

Leader to us, parent to them

Doing what he was created for By Chandrea Serebro “My dear husband, Tuvia, who passed away just over a year ago, was rather reserved, introverted, and quiet. He had a beautiful sense of humour, a wit that came from his genius. He loved a good laugh when it was a good joke,” explains Chana (nee Pesskin), the wife of Rabbi Tuvia Sifris, ztz”l, as she speaks to me, lovingly remembering her husband and the quiet impact he made on the lives of each of their children, and herself. At the…

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The real meaning of saving – In the spirit of national savings month

The real meaning of saving – In the spirit of national savings month

BY PIETER KOEKEMOER, CORONATION HEAD OF PERSONAL INVESTMENTS When it comes to the difficult choice be-tween spending on something you really want, or saving the money instead, you may expect that an investment manager would say it’s always best to forego short-term indulgences in favour of investing for the long-term, right? You might be surprised to hear us say, not always! As part of National Savings Month, we are encouraging South Africans to save more by putting money aside every month instead of overspending it on unnecessary things. Our call…

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MEXEM: Making the stock market quick and easy for all

MEXEM: Making the stock market quick and easy for all

For those of us looking to develop a sound financial portfolio, investing one’s money in the stock market is a particularly effective way to reap significant returns on that investment. Whether you’re saving whatever disposable income you have for a large purchase in the future (say, a house, a car or a university education) or have come onto a significant amount of extra cash (through an inheritance, for example), investing in the stock market promises the kind of massive returns that absolutely no other investment strategy can match. Like any…

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Diner delights

Diner delights

Recipes to help warm up your winter By: Jenny Diner Vegetable and Beef Soup 500g shin 500g flank Bring to a boil 4 litres of water. Add the meat and cook slowly for about 30 minutes, skimming the surface until the water is clear. Dice the following vegetables and add to the meat: 4 baby leeks 4 medium turnips 2 large parsnips 3 large carrots 1 large potato Cut up a bunch of soup celery A small bunch of parsley A chunk of pumpkin (optional) Add water to cover the…

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A Japanese tzaddik

A Japanese tzaddik

Sacrificing everything to save a few Jews By Rabbi Yossy Goldman How does it feel to come to the realisation that without a certain individual you would not be alive? I had this singular experience recently in Philadelphia. It was my very emotional meeting with a Japanese gentleman named Nobuki Sugihara. Nobuki is the sole surviving son of Chiune Sugihara, the legendary Japanese diplomat who courageously distributed thousands of Transit Visas to Polish Jews trapped in Lithuania which enabled them to escape from Nazi-occupied Europe at the beginning of World…

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It all adds up

It all adds up

Changing habits and planning ahead can lead to big savings By: Adrienne Bogatie We all have to live within a budget. How big or small that budget is depends on a number of factors: the job we have, our housing costs, the size of our family, whether or not we keep kosher, and the school which our children attend. For a lot of people, it is easier to open up about marital and family conflicts, or going for therapy, than it is to admit, even to close family or friends,…

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Jews and Their Money

Jews and Their Money

The Enduring Legacy of Economic Anti-Semitism By Ilan Preskovsky There is perhaps no greater example of the anti-Semitic stereotype of the money-grubbing Jew in all of literature than the character of Shylock in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Shylock is an exceptionally greedy and merciless Jewish loan shark who lends the play’s Christian protagonist, Antonio, a sizeable amount of money and literally secures the loan against a pound of Antonio’s flesh. When Antonio inevitably defaults on repaying the money, Shylock lives up to his repulsive, almost satanic nature and…

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Spare change – A priceless encounter with an adoring fan

Spare change – A priceless encounter with an adoring fan

By: Rabbi Dr David Fox He was standing in the lobby, having stepped out of the noisy banquet hall where the wealthy donors dined on delicacies and discussed their wealth management. A quiet, modest man, he felt little in common with this crowd, but had attended the banquet as a guest of the evening’s host. A little quiet usually suited him well, so he had taken a break to admire the decor and solitude. Looking around, he saw a well-dressed, portly fellow moving towards him, beaming. Dapper and confident, the…

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Anything is possible

Anything is possible

From jobless to successful entrepreneur By Chandrea Serebro Estie Rand went from fired and jobless to successful entrepreneur, after being told by a successful recruiter that she would never succeed at turning her dream into a real, profitable reality. Nine years ago, working at a multinational profit as a CIO, Estie loved her job. She loved her boss. One day, they hired a middle manager, who came in like a bull in a china shop and created a very toxic environment. He shifted all the work responsibilities and basically told…

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The adventures of the entrepreneurial spirit and what makes it tick

The adventures of the entrepreneurial spirit and what makes it tick

By Chandrea Serebro Makeover When Israeli-born Maya Mallah made Aliya back to Israel 15 years ago, she arrived to the country of her birth only to discover that the reality there was so different to what she had enjoyed in South Africa for so many years, being a housewife who also enjoyed domestic help. She realised that she needed to uplift herself in order to contribute to the household, and took herself off to study beauty for two years, which turned out to be “the best years of my life”….

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On Zeida’s knee

On Zeida’s knee

Stories from a world that was By: Lorraine Winnett Way back in the 1950s, Jewish grandparents had the (understandably) mistaken belief that grand children must eat. Experiences of deprivation and poverty, pogroms, and other atrocities were always present and hauntingly all too real in their minds. Children starved, and I, alone, had the supreme responsibility for eating grilled liver and fried onions, as other children could not bear it! It was irrelevant that I detested this delicacy, as it would definitely bring a glow to my sallow complexion. I was…

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Homework!?

Homework!?

What death and taxes are to life, homework no doubt is to school – at least that’s long been the conventional wisdom begrudgingly but obediently accepted by teachers, parents, and kids for as long as anyone can remember By: Ilan Preskovsky Some of us may have gone out of our way not to actually do our assigned homework – and certainly not to do so at home – but it has always been an accepted reality that with any halfway decent education comes work that must be done outside of…

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Not so elementary

Not so elementary

The case of the weeping hiker By: Rabbi Dr Dovid Fox A few summers ago on a return trip from Israel, my wife and I visited Switzerland. To paraphrase the wise words of many a great rabbinic scholar, we both wanted to see “HaShem’s Alps”. We planned a few weeks of solitary hiking to clear our minds with clean mountain air. Friends of ours frequent Switzerland and advised us of some beautiful valleys and famous peaks. Waiting for that one perfect spot to recite a bracha [blessing] over HaShem’s majestic…

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It’s burger time!

It’s burger time!

All the secrets to making the best burgers around Text and Recipes By: Sharon Lurie What makes a burger “A BURGER”? Is it the patty? The toppings? The condiments? Or the bun? The secret to these unique tasting burgers is a combination of all of the above. Nothing beats a simple home-made burger bun (recipe below), especially when cut open and toasted. Toasting the buns gives it an even better taste, texture, and surface to prevent the sauces from seeping through the bun and making it soggy. All the burgers…

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After hours

After hours

These days, a thirst for knowledge and to have fun while developing the skills needed for the fast paced lives that lie ahead lead kids to choose extra-murals that will develop them for life. We looked at a few… By Chandrea Serebro Coding The way the world is going, one of the best skills you can give your kids is for them to be well versed in technology. And this starts with coding, the fundamentals of the high tech world. Torah Academy offers coding through Kids Coding Academy as an…

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Excellence beyond the classroom

Excellence beyond the classroom

Teachers and students who are taking everything they’ve learned to the next level By Chandrea Serebro Rebbe’s Mussar Stories Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Edelman is a storyteller who uses the power of his voice, with his talent for imparting the Torah’s timeless wisdom through meaningful moshals (parables), to teach children all about growing themselves as people and as Jews. But just to make sure that what he is trying to teach people doesn’t get lost in the pages of history, Rabbi Edelman uses modern technology and the wonderful new ways of…

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Speaking to the heart

Speaking to the heart

A new memorial edition of Tehillim dedicated to the memory of Avigayil Brocha Goodman aims to reach the hearts of all Jews By Chandrea Serebro There is one book that catches Cathy’s eye as she unpacks a shipment of new Jewish books for the Kollel Bookshop where she works. It is small and unassuming; with soft pastel blossoms, tiny leaves and fruits, coming off an intricate vine, the delicate embossed flowers twirling off the front cover. A Tehillim book, so gentle and appealing, it immediately strikes her as something special,…

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Less really is more

Less really is more

In an effort to be more health-conscious, here are some recipes that have more natural, less-processed ingredients. They may require more time and effort in the kitchen, but you won’t be disappointed with having your fridge, freezer, or pantry well-stocked with delicious, healthier options on hand By: Avigail Goldberg Breakfast Pancakes Makes 6 2 cups rolled oats 2 overripe bananas 2 eggs 2 tsp vanilla essence 2 tsp baking powder ¼ cup chocolate chips – optional Fresh fruit and honey to serve – optional In a blender, blend the oats…

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Kosher heaven

Kosher heaven

Kosherfest introduces us to what lies ahead for all things kosher By Chandrea Serebro Those of us keeping kosher in South Africa realise how lucky we are, with so much available and so many options out there for so small a community, relatively speaking. We might think that Glenhazel or Sea Point is a kosher fest. That is until you discover Kosherfest – the annual event held in New Jersey for kosher businesses (it is not open to the public). “Kosherfest is the world’s largest and most attended kosher-certified products…

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Just like bobba used to make

Just like bobba used to make

Expressing love through food By: Nikita Singh On Purim, we look forward to delicate hamantaschen triangles filled with sweet mohn and fruity jams. On Rosh Hashanah, we weave big round challahs with a sweet golden glaze. Jewish holidays are always accompanied by the most flavourful and delicious dishes, like slow-cooked tsimmes, big bowls of chicken soup, and platters of smoked salmon. Food is like a cultural calendar in Jewish life. If you’ve got latkes on your plate, you know that it’s Chanukah. If you’re eating hamantaschen, you know that it’s…

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Supersize it

Supersize it

The pros share the planning and organisation that go into catering functions for thousands of guests By Chandrea Serebro If you think that having ten people over for a Friday night is a challenge – getting the soup hot and the meat out in time before it’s burned, and let’s not forget taking the ice cream out of the freezer in advance so it’s thawed enough to serve – imagine catering for a thousand or even more! Now imagine that the said thousand are Jewish and it takes it to…

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A taste of Italy

A taste of Italy

A business built to provide employment for family, but the real winner is the entire Jewish community By Chandrea Serebro Chani Lavine is Italian, and, like all good Italians, she loves a good ice cream. Not just any ice cream, mind you, but authentic gelato straight out of Italy. So when Chani went in the search of a business that she could build for her sons, Dovi and Reuven, to take over one day, it was natural that her first port of call was Italy, where Chani went in pursuit…

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What happens in the kitchen…

What happens in the kitchen…

A commercial kitchen can be a scary, hairy, weary place. We asked a few kosher pros to tell share some of their stories from the trenches By Chandrea Serebro “It was my first Tisha B’Av breaking of the fast working at Michelos. We came in as per usual at around lunchtime to prepare for a busy breaking of the fast. Throughout the afternoon, orders were coming in, but, an hour before the fast ended, our oven decided that it had had enough. A transformer blew and it was no longer…

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Shavuos: Receiving the Torah

Shavuos: Receiving the Torah

More than in our heart and in our soul, it’s in our DNA By: Aron Ziegler When the Jewish people stood at Har Sinai 3 331 years ago, we were asked if we would accept the Torah, and we famously responded “na’aseh v’nishma” – “we will do and we will understand”. In the Talmud, it is recorded that at this juncture Hashem held the mountain of Sinai over us and declared that we had better accept the Torah, or else. The Torah says[1], “And Moshe brought the people forth out…

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KEEPING THE COSTS DOWN: Mexem’s incredible trading fees

KEEPING THE COSTS DOWN: Mexem’s incredible trading fees

Keeping the Costs Down: Mexem’s Incredible Trading Fees Mexem, the introducing broker for Interactive Brokers, has been bringing world-class trading to South African investors for over a year now. Enabling trading in 120 markets and 28 currencies, all at very low fees, Mexem has dramatically transformed the face of investing for South Africans. By bringing Interactive Brokers – the largest US electronic brokerage firm – to South Africa, Mexem says it is able to offer extremely low fees that simply cannot be matched by South African firms who are limited…

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Not kidding around

Not kidding around

The beloved song from the Pesach Seder, Chad Gadya, may sound like it’s just a children’s song, but the meaning behind the imagery is truly profound By: Robert Sussman Written in Aramaic, the song Chad Gadya (Aramaic for “One Kid”) is the final song sung at the Pesach Seder. Its author is unknown. Why Aramaic? Our Sages wanted to conclude the Haggadah in the same language with which it began – “Ha lachma anya…”, “This is the bread of affliction…” – so they established that Chad Gadya be said in…

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Matzah! – Our tortured gastronomical love affair with this square-shaped piece of bread

Matzah! – Our tortured gastronomical love affair with this square-shaped piece of bread

By Chandrea Serebro How we love to hate matzah, and how our stomachs hate to love matzah. Most of us spend half of Pesach complaining about the lousy effect that all the matzah, chrain, and wine have on us. Yet, during the week of Pesach, we all delight at the simple pleasure of a creamy slice of geshmeerte matza. Or two. Or, why not three? Who’s counting? Besides, matzah doesn’t fill us up, so it’s very easy to keep going on and on just like the Energizer bunny. But there…

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A hero to the troopies

A hero to the troopies

Cecil Meltz’ profound love for every Jew meant that no Jewish man in uniform was ever alone By Chandrea Serebro Ask anyone from Bloemfontein and it’s a sure thing that they will recall knowing the legendary Cecil Meltz, who inhabited so many roles while being defined by none. His life story is a gripping tale of love and loss, war, murder, tragedy, friendship, and extending a hand to strangers. It started in Zastron, Free State, in 1920, when Cecil Meltz was born, one of nine siblings. He saw active service…

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We were slaves, strangers in a strange land

We were slaves, strangers in a strange land

Looking for remnants of a world that was By: Rabbi Dr Fox My visit to Morocco, my first to the African continent, was to look for graves. My wife’s father had been born there and had regaled her and me with his memories of life there before and after the war. Ultimately, he had made his way to France, to America, to Israel, and yet has retained clear images of the world which he left behind. Of interest to us was his decision, decades earlier, not to go back. He…

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The oldest fake news around

The oldest fake news around

Showing half the picture and taking all the credit By: Robert Sussman When did we truly become liberated from our Egyptian slavery? In other words, was there a precise point in time – even a precise location that we can point to – when Hashem took us out from Egypt where we were truly emancipated once and for all? In fact, the Torah tells us that there was such a moment where we gained our freedom, including a physical location where it took place: “Speak to the Children of Israel…

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In graphic detail – An Exciting New Approach to a Familiar Old Text

In graphic detail – An Exciting New Approach to a Familiar Old Text

By Ilan Preskovsky One of the hallmarks of any Seder is the challenge of keeping both old and young interested in what’s going on. Whether it’s the familiarity of a ritual we go through once (twice in chutz l’aretz) every year, the potential inaccessibility of a text that was old when the middle ages were young, or the way the main meal feels ever further away the more the Seder goes on, it is, at times, less than easy to engage in something that, by all rights, ought to be…

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In Vino Veritas – Four cups of wine: recognising what makes us different

In Vino Veritas – Four cups of wine: recognising what makes us different

By Dovid Samuels What do Purim, Shabbos, Pesach…and pretty much all Yom Tovs have in common? Besides for the food, there is almost always a bottle of wine present; usually to add to the simcha of the festival, but often mandatory. On Shabbos: for Kiddush on Friday night and Shabbos day, then havdola at the end. Purim, ad d’lo yada… (until you don’t know the difference). At Pesach: four cups throughout the night…and a fifth one poured, but not drunk. Now, there are many reasons given why we have specifically…

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Shock and awe

Shock and awe

Who doesn’t know the Ten Plagues? Hashem, who is All Powerful, could have done anything to the Egyptians that He wanted, so why did He choose those ten afflictions? The Midrash teaches that Hashem brought the plagues middah keneged middah (measure for measure). In other words, each one of the plagues was to punish the Egyptians for something they had done to persecute the Children of Israel. By: Robert Sussman 1. DAM (BLOOD) – WHY? The Egyptians saw that the Children of Israel would immerse in a mikvah when they…

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An eye for detail

An eye for detail

Two paths diverged in the wood…and David Braude wound up taking both of them By Ilan Preskovsky Even after just spending a couple of hours with them in their home, it’s hard to deny that, as Dulcie Braude herself puts it, she and her husband of nearly sixty years, David, “are not your average couple”. Dulcie, along with proving to be an impeccable hostess, is clearly the talker of the two; quickly taking charge and – pre-empting most of my actual questions – unspooling what are, no doubt, just some…

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Buried treasure

Buried treasure

Childhood tales of a famous relative lead to the discovery of just how great the man actually was, along with some newfound cousins By: Juan-Paul (Paysach) Burke To reimagine the past can be a challenge, especially the distant past with a dearth of ready information. So, to stumble across a relative who you never knew you had and to discover more about a rabbi of note that you share as a great-grandfather is a brilliant surprise and a present from above. The Friends of Jewish Dokshitsy[1], comments and stories. 13…

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There’s more to the party than just the balloons

There’s more to the party than just the balloons

Girls celebrating their bat mitzvah year have so much to choose from to help them find meaning from their special day. By Chandrea Serebro Roots “Suddenly, as she becomes bat mitzvah, a girl begins to hear the voice of her soul. The needs, yearnings, and feelings of her spiritual inner self are allowed to emerge. She begins to seek meaning, fulfilment, connection, and inspiration. She meets a side to her personality that she never knew existed – a deeper side.” This is both the goal and the mission statement of…

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Celebrate the good times

Celebrate the good times

You don’t have to look far for a reason to celebrate By Chandrea Serebro Life is short. It’s too short to get lost in the details. It’s too short to get caught up in the daily grind. There are too many things to worry about. Paying the bills. The next deal that is waiting for us to close before someone else gets there first. Getting the kids to school on time. Getting the kids to varsity one day. Living a good, long life in good health. Every day we could…

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The consummate teacher

The consummate teacher

Paying tribute to the man who has steadfastly held a diverse and unique community united for decades By Chandrea Serebro It might sound incongruous for a judge – not just any judge, mind you, but the head of the court – to state repeatedly over a career spanning 40 years that he is not in the business of judging. But hearing Rabbi Moshe Kurtstag – recently retired from the position of Av Beth Din after taking up the position as Dayan in 1976, a giant of a man who at…

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Esther

Esther

Prophetess. Queen. Redeemer…Orphan. By: Robert Sussman What would you be willing to sacrifice to save your family? What about your entire nation? Would you be willing to give up everything that you hold dear and to live in virtual isolation in order to save everyone else? In essence, that’s exactly the choice that Queen Esther faced. One of the most famous – and most dramatic – moments in Megillas Esther comes when Mordechai sends a message to Queen Esther informing her about the evil decree that Haman has just had…

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Mazel Tov!

Mazel Tov!

We say it so often, but what does it really mean? And does saying it actually make any difference – can we really change what’s been written in the stars? By: Robert Sussman No matter the simcha (joyous occasion), be it a wedding, bris, or bar mitzvah, we customarily greet each other by saying, “Mazel Tov!” In fact, it seems that any time we hear good news – a new job, a new car, a new house – we wish the person sharing that good news, “Mazel Tov!” We say…

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More than just a comfortable, safe place to daven

More than just a comfortable, safe place to daven

Standing up to the darkness and the shifting winds of change that threaten to destroy our youth By: Ilan Preskowsky The town of Lakewood, New Jersey is known for being home to one of the United States’ most significant Orthodox Jewish communities; a community centred around nothing less than the world-renowned Beth Medrash Govoha, the largest yeshiva outside of Israel. Unfortunately, so prestigious a community is hardly exempt from a problem that challenges communities throughout the Jewish world. Literally hundreds of teenagers and young adults from this yeshiva community have…

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Making kids superpowerful

Making kids superpowerful

Teaching our children how to cope with life’s challenges By: Paula Levin Lara Noik and Tova Goldstein are extremely busy professionals, wives, and mothers, but despite all their commitments they are plotting a revolution. “We want to take over the world…starting with Glenhazel,” jokes Goldstein. Both qualified social workers, the two are energised and motivated to do far more than is possible in a day because they have a calling: to address the mental health crisis affecting adolescents. “Schools across the country are seeing an increase in mental illness, addiction,…

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Thou Shalt Innovate

Thou Shalt Innovate

Sharing the inspiration and hopeful story that is Israel By Chandrea Serebro If ever you wanted to hear good news about Israel, skip the small fry and head straight to thought leader and author Avi Jorisch, who took it upon himself to shout it out to the world. It came to him with a bang, quite literally, when both he and the people of Israel spent the summer of 2014 rushing in and out of bomb shelters during the Israel-Gaza conflict Operation Protective Edge. “This experience had a deep impact…

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Israeli innovation – A peek into Israel’s fast and furious, world-changing innovation across all areas.

Israeli innovation – A peek into Israel’s fast and furious, world-changing innovation across all areas.

By Chandrea Serebro Two Israeli start-ups (Nucleix and Medial EarlySign) are making great strides developing blood tests for diagnosing early stage lung cancer. Now, Savicell, a third, is achieving a 91% success rate. Early detection gives the patient a 50-80% recovery chance. At late stage it is only 4%. Israeli start-up Scade Medical has patented a prototype scanner to diagnose early stage melanoma. BlueSky is based on DOSI (differential optical spectro-polarimetric imaging) technology invented by Ofir Aharon, whose mother contracted melanoma. It has already saved seven lives. Israeli start-up Diagnoz.me has a…

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The Lion of Zion

The Lion of Zion

Remembering Ari Fuld, a life that continues to inspire, and the beautiful song written about him by a South African youth By Chandrea Serebro Israel lost its lion last year. World Jewry, including South Africa, mourned on 16 September and everyday thereafter. The day that Ari Fuld, a 45-year-old American-born Israeli, was murdered by a 16-year-old Palestinian terrorist, Khalil Jabarin, in Gush Etzion. With his dying breath, after sustaining mortal stab wounds, the Lion drew his weapon, scaled a fence in pursuit of his attacker, and shot the terrorist to…

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Naale Elite Academy

Naale Elite Academy

Making dreams of living and learning in Israel a reality for South African teens By Ilan Preskovsky It may sound like a ludicrous pipe dream, but for South African Jewish teens between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, an opportunity awaits to finish off their high school careers in Israel with the added benefits of a free initial flight to Israel and fully-subsidised tuition, medical aid, room and board, pocket money, and a whole lot more. Naale (a Hebrew acronym meaning “children coming before parents”) is an international programme that,…

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An Englishman in sunny South Africa

An Englishman in sunny South Africa

Dayan Boruch Rapoport retires from the Beth Din after 33 years of devoted service By Chandrea Serebro When Dayan Boruch Rapoport looks back 33 years to the start of his career here in South Africa, he realises – not without a chuckle, characteristic of his dry English sense of humour – that he was not quite as experienced then as he is today, both in religious and legal matters, which a lifetime of learning and growing has kept him on top of, but also when it came to people. As…

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Bringing out every person’s potential

Bringing out every person’s potential

The Chev and Boston City Campus and Business College have teamed up to up-skill members of the Chev’s protected employment By Chandrea Serebro There isn’t a parent who doesn’t spend his life trying as best as he can to set his kids up for success in everything that the child will do, from personal to professional and back again. And the best place to start, everyone will agree, is through education. Indeed, our very own Madiba said it best when he acknowledged that education is power. And it is with…

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Making the Torah sweet for everyone

Making the Torah sweet for everyone

Some new approaches that help students of the Talmud enjoy their studies By Ilan Preskovsky While the Tanach may be the bedrock and “point of departure” for Judaism as both a religion and a culture, it is the Talmud (especially the Babylonian Talmud or Talmud Bavli) that is the best encapsulation of how Jews for the past two-thousand years have related to the Torah and, thus, how we have lived as Jews. The Talmud Bavli was compiled in the sixth century CE (the less-used Jerusalem Talmud or Talmud Yerushalmi was…

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Ready to take on the world

Ready to take on the world

Matrics let us inside their heads, sharing their thoughts on a variety of topics By Chandrea Serebro Name the top 3 game changers in the world today? Jasmyn Lawson; ATTN:; and Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Jasmyn Lawson is a black female programmer who is the former culture editor of Giphy (yes, that Giphy, that provides us with all of the gifs on the internet). Women, especially women of colour, are notorious for being marginalised within the computer world, but Jasmyn is changing the face of our internet by making it…

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Tapping into teens

Tapping into teens

Thoughts and advice from our youth By Chandrea Serebro What do you hope to see in the world in the future? My hope for the future, specifically for our country, is to see greater safety and freedom. Open access to public transport – safe, reliable, and cost-effective. Wouldn’t a bus or train to school be nice? Why are youth important today? Youth are important today because, in a digital world, our youthful optimism, energy, and desire to connect to each other in a real and social way is essential for…

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True kindness: Giving someone what he lacks and cannot attain for himself

True kindness: Giving someone what he lacks and cannot attain for himself

By: Robert Sussman Each time we daven Shemoneh Esrei (aka the Amidah, or standing prayer), we say in the very first bracha that Hashem “recalls the chasdei Avos (the kindnesses of the Patriarchs)”. What kindnesses are we talking about? And to whom? Our Sages teach that Avraham’s defining characteristic was chesed (kindness), Yitzchak’s was din (judgment), and Yaakov’s was emes (truth). While the Torah is replete with episodes of Avraham’s chesed, as well as how Hashem tested him regarding that trait, the chesed of Yitzchak and of Yaakov is less…

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When all else fails

When all else fails

The world in which we live often stands at odds with the timeless values of the Torah and the prevailing atmosphere of violence and utter disregard for human life and property which have come to be the norm everywhere is certainly no exception By: Robert Sussman Following the recent Pittsburgh massacre, Hashem yikom damam (may Hashem avenge their blood), debate raged in the US over whether Jews should begin carrying and training with firearms as a “deterrence” to future such incidents, Hashem yerachem (G-d have mercy). So, it’s worthwhile to…

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