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Waverley’s R. Nossel looks after body & soul

  • Nossel
The Waverley Hebrew Congregation has welcomed a home-grown product, Rabbi Dr David Nossel (pictured) as its spiritual leader - a return to the shul where he had his barmitzvah.
by SUZANNE BELLING | Oct 21, 2015

Healing both the body and soul, he leads the services in Waverley’s main shul, while by day he practises medicine at the Chiawelo Clinic in Soweto.

This versatile rabbi/doctor has also written a book on Hebrew and another on marriage.

Former head prefect at King David Victory Park, he was brought up in a traditional home.

“I lived equidistant between the Parkwood and Oxford Synagogues and went to neither. My parents, Harvey Nossel, (of “Talking Law” at ChaiFM) and mother Iris, a speech therapist, ran a proud Jewish home.

“When I was at Wits medical school, my grandfather passed away and I accompanied my father to the daily minyanim when he was saying Kaddish.”

He attended shiurim at medical school and was inspired by Rabbi Akiva Taitz, who now lives in London.

“I was drawn towards the religious Kollel in Yeoville, where a number of families adopted me for Shabbos meals. I became gung-ho about Yiddishkeit under Rabbi Boruch Grossnass.”

After doing his internship at the Boksburg/Benoni Hospital, he went to Israel, studying at the Ateret Yisrael mainstream yeshiva, where he was mashgiach (spiritual dean) of outreach, under Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, “one of the gedolim” (leading rabbis of the generation).

“I didn’t have formal halachic ordination. It was bestowed on me after two years of learning. It was a learning thing. I was given smicha in order to teach in the yeshiva.”

Rabbi Nossel married Leanne Jacobson after “love at first arrangement” (it was a shidduch).They have eight children aged between 21 and seven.

Back in South Africa, how did he choose between medicine and the rabbinate?

“I threw up my credentials to Shamayim. I said: ‘Hashem, here is my BSc, here is my MBBCh, here is my CV as a mashgiach.’

“Hashem answered me in a most remarkable way. He guided me back into the shul where I had read my maftir as a boy, shaking like a leaf. Thirty-seven years later I was reading my maftir in the same shul where I first read it under Rabbi David Rogut.”

Initially after his return to South Africa, he had problems with the Health Professions Council of South Africa with regard to regaining his licence after his five-year absence from medicine.

“It was the academic department which welcomed me and assisted me in getting my licence back and working in the clinic.”

The Waverley campus comprises the main shul (upstairs) and the Beit Yisrael minyan downstairs, under Rabbi Gabi Bookatz.

“We are co-rabbis on the campus, which includes facilities for youth, children and a traditional approach to study.”

Rabbi Nossel was appointed to Waverley Synagogue on a fulltime basis at the beginning of September, in time for the Yamim Noraim.

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