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Op-eds

Wisdom and courage

  • MichaelSieff
Like a Google map, the closer you zoom in, the more detail you get about places you would not have known were there - places that are enriching, educational and inspiring.
by MICHAEL SIEFF | Jul 27, 2017

I attend the Sandringham Gardens Shul regularly in the early mornings and am always struck by the warmth and culture of this micro-world within the larger complex, which is itself a micro-world within a much larger community, and city, and… ad infinitum.   

One of our famous sages taught: “Who is wise?  He who learns from everyone.” I have found that there is much to learn from those who attend this small minyan on the main Chev campus. 

The congregation is a mix of people from Sandringham Gardens, Golden Acres and the Lodge, as well as a sprinkling of people from the community who may have yarzheit and need to say kaddish, or who have another reason to daven there. 

Characteristic of the respect that older people place on punctuality, prayers dependably begin promptly at 07:00 and our Rabbi Jonathan Fox ensures that services are conducted in a consistent and respectful manner.

But more than that, the revelation apparent in keeping company with older generations, is how much they have to teach us, if we are willing to learn.  

It is an honour and privilege when they share snippets of their life experiences, invariably littered with a deep understanding of the human condition. It is even enlightening simply to observe the way they conduct themselves, without necessarily exchanging words. 

Some are frail and have difficulty navigating their way to shul with walkers and wheelchairs. Others are remarkably sprightly at advanced ages and I find myself wanting to know their secret. Whatever their situation, there is a dignity, a sense of purpose and a determination to their attendance at shul - as though they understand the inherent spirituality and value of prayer on a deeper level than most of us. 

It is likely that they do, for they appreciate much about life that younger people don’t.  Or don’t yet.

Watching them, I am filled with admiration. These are generations who have lived, triumphed, and experienced loss. Each person is an entire world, each story unique and irreplaceable. To show up and be counted, demonstrates a deep level of faith and belief that, on its own, provides a most valuable lesson.  

Their collective and individual courage seems equalled only by their wisdom. On every visit I am enriched.

The community is welcome to join us for davening.

May our partnership continue to thrive feedback@jhbchev.co.za

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