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Sydenham Shul celebrating many milestones

  • Syd756
Back in 1943, the Second World War was raging across Europe and Jews were being murdered in their millions. It never ceases to inspire me that during that terrible time for our people, down here in the bottom of Africa, a new congregation was being formed in Johannesburg to serve the growing Jewish community, then migrating north from Doornfontein and surrounds.
by STANLEY SEEFF | Aug 24, 2017

Our forbears were nothing less than visionaries when they formed the Sydenham Highlands North Hebrew Congregation and helped rebuild Jewish life. Today, thank G-d, the Sydenham Shul continues to be viable and vibrant, successful and spiritual, and is also attracting the new generation.

Indeed, we have been hailed by none other than Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks as “one of the great synagogues of the English-speaking world”.

As we celebrate our Diamond Jubilee - 75 years of dedicated and inspired community leadership in our own community and well beyond, we also honour three decades of dedication and spiritual leadership by our senior rabbinic couple, Rabbi Yossy and Rochel Goldman, a decade of innovation in reaching out to the next generation by Rabbi Yehuda and Estee Stern, and the barmitzvah year of our world-class Chazan Yudi Cohen.

Our spiritual leader, Rabbi Goldman, is one of this country’s leading rabbis and is respected around the world. He is an author and radio personality, the president of the South African Rabbinical Association and a past member of the Religious Broadcasting Panel of the SABC.

His wife Rochel is a social activist in her own right - a dedicated rebbetzin and a respected role model to many hundreds of women throughout our Jewish community.

In the 10 years they have been with us, Rabbi Yehuda and Estee Stern, besides consolidating and growing the Shtibl-SpiritShul, have developed a thriving, dynamic young adult community around our Sydenham Shul campus. Their Young Jewish Joburg dinners, events and learning programmes, are attracting hundreds of young people from across the spectrum and hold the promise of an exciting and bright future. Rabbi Stern also oversees the youth division of the community.

Chazan Yudi has rightfully earned all the accolades bestowed upon him for his beautiful davening, his ability to mix traditional chazonus with contemporary Jewish music, and the passion he puts into prayer. Yudi, Dina and their children are an integral part of our shul family.

Sydenham Shul has been an integral part of my family’s life for over six decades. This journey has taken me from a pupil in the nursery school, to serving as a gabai for the past 18 years. Ingrid has worked on the campus for 45 years, and when we walk into the Shul, it feels like we are home. 

Stanley Seeff is the chairman of Sydenham Shul.

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