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A cherished teacher reconnects - 50 years on

  • Kurtstag
Rosh Beth Din Rabbi Moshe Kurtstag has been part and parcel of the Beth Din for so many years that it is difficult to envision him in another role other than his imposing presence in the Jewish Ecclesiastical Court.
by SUZANNE BELLING | Mar 09, 2016

But the Israeli rabbi, who married Batya Aloy in 1961, actually had a very different life before coming to South Africa in 1966. And for a few years after that.

He was rosh yeshiva of the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva in Netanya and recalls with affection his interaction with the grade 11 class of 1965. “My focus was on education - not judgements - and I came to Johannesburg to head the former Hebrew Teachers’ Seminary at Arcadia in Johannesburg.

“Then it was decided this type of training was unnecessary and I was recruited by the South African Board of Jewish Education to run the Jewish Students’ University Programme (JSUP). There were 120 boys and girls in the class and, as well as Jewish studies, the learners were enrolled in Unisa to obtain their secular degrees.

“About 20 shidduchim were made among the JSUP students,” the rabbi recalls.

He joined the Beth Din on a part-time basis in 1976 and was appointed Rosh Beth Din in 1989. “This is obviously what G-d wants me to do,” he told the SA Jewish Report.

But recently, out of the blue, he was contacted by members of his grade 11 class from the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva. “They were planning a 50-year reunion, together with their wives, and wanted me to send them a bracha to use in their golden anniversary brochure.

Rabbi Kurtstag wrote that it was amazing that, after 50 years, the learners had remained in contact.

“Torah is the unifying force among Jews scattered all over. All Am Yisrael is connected through the Torah, like one man with one heart,” he said.

“Then I decided to give them a big surprise. I travelled to Yerushalayim to meet with my former learners and their wives. It was such an exciting experience. They were teenagers and now they are zeidas!”

Twenty members of Rabbi Kurtstag’s original class of 23 were present. One had died, one was living in the United States and a third fell ill and could not attend the reunion.

“Although all observant Jews, there was not one rabbi among them - doctors, lawyers, accountants, businessmen, but not one rabbi!” Rabbi Kurtstag said.

On motzei Shabbat, photographs were taken of the “old boys” and their wives with Rabbi Kurtstag.

“Now I can see I am getting old,” he quipped.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Jonni 23 Mar
    Rabbi K is a a Giant in every way,a mensch and a great role model

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