Story-ideas-1011172

Positive Shabbos Project spinoff in Sea Point

  • Rabbi
The new spiritual leader of the Sephardi Hebrew Congregation in Sea Point in Cape Town, has probably had one of the biggest successes as a result of the Shabbos Project.
by SUZANNE BELLING | Nov 04, 2015

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“Seventy-two members of my congregation have made a commitment to keep Shabbat in full. This is very admirable for a community that has had difficulties in the past,” said Rabbi David Benchlouch, referring to the hardships a number of congregants endured coming from trouble spots such as the Congo and the former Rhodesia.

“We are seeing such a great energy, such a will. I see this as a thriving, growing and very successful community. This is so strong - people are willing to change so much about their routine to bring Am Yisrael closer.”

Rabbi Benchlouch explained that the number 72 was significant in Gematria (numerology). There are three letters in the Hebrew word “Shabbat”.

“The Shin for Shabbat is 300, the Bet is two and Taf is 400. In numerical Gematria that is 702, and in small Gematria it is 72, so the number of people committed to keeping Shabbos is especially significant.”

Rabbi Benchlouch, the son of Sephardi Rabbi Michael Benchlouch in San Francisco, among other places, was born in Miami, Florida and grew up in the United States. He went to a yeshiva high school in Ofakim, Israel and then, at the age of 14, on his own in the Old City, attended the Midrash Sephardi Yeshiva for five years under rosh yeshiva Rabbi Sam Kassin.

From 2010 to 2012 he underwent rabbinical training in Efrat, under its Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, at the Strauss Amiel/Beren Amiel Ner Le’elef Rabbinical Training Programme. He obtained smicha in 2013 under Rabbi Yaakov Perez of Jerusalem and Rabbi Eliyahu Abergel.

The young rabbi is following in a family tradition - his maternal grandfather, Rabbi Yaakov Elharar, came from Morocco to Israel. “He was a pioneering rabbi, who opened the first shul in Ramat Beit Shemesh and was chaplain to the mayor of the town.”

Up until May this year, Rabbi Benchlouch taught in a yeshiva before taking up his post in Cape Town. His wife, Tirza, comes from Tifrach Israel and was an accountant for Yad Sarah before coming to South Africa. They have two 

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