Rabbis’ Dispatch from Cape Town, November 2019

Dear Friends:

We have been enjoying our stay as guest rabbis in Cape Town, South Africa, and appreciate the opportunity that Temple Sinai gives us to bring our Bread and Torah project to such far-flung places.

Teaching religious school students how a Torah scroll is made

The Cape Town Progressive Jewish Community – also known as Temple Israel – has an interesting organizational structure. There are three separate synagogues, in three different parts of this city of 4 and a half million people, affiliated as one congregation. Each synagogue has its own council; the three members of the rabbinic team circulate among the three venues. The two larger synagogues have services every Shabbat evening and morning; the smaller one has weekly Shabbat evening services and once a month on Shabbat morning.

We have either taught or lead services at all three places, each lovely and distinct in its own way, and participated in the Mitzvah Day activity at Gracie Love in a Bowl, a “soup kitchen on wheels” based at a local organic farm and retreat center.

Challah workshop for 160 people — biggest ever!

We have also made pita on the braai (barbecue) at a Havdalah event, spoken about Women and Safrut (scribal craft), done a bagel workshop and a Torah project presentation with the religious school, taught a class on tefillin, and given divrei Torah at services.

Coming up are a scribal talk at a nursing home, a challah workshop at a Jewish home for people with intellectual disabilities, a hands-on Community Torah project event sewing two panels, and more service-leading. You can follow our activities on Instagram at breadandtorah.

Mitzvah Day at Gracie Love in a Bowl

Mitzvah Day at Gracie Love in a Bowl

We have received a warm welcome and met many wonderful people. Cape Town is an incredibly diverse city and that diversity is reflected in the membership of the congregation. We have been able to explore the beautiful surroundings as well as to meet with a humanitarian organization that works with disadvantaged people in the townships: Mosaic – Training, Service, and Healing Centre for Women. The chairperson of the Board of Mosaic is a member of Temple Israel.

With Rabbi Emma Gottlieb at Hout Bay

With Rabbi Emma Gottlieb at Hout Bay

We look forward to returning home next week and sharing more of our experiences with you.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Rabbis Linda and Jonathan

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