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Chabad for Cape Town’s Israelis and other tourists

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Chabad makes a point of ensuring that Jews feel welcome around the world and encourages a Jewish way of life. Now, Rabbi Chezkin Yehudah Malka and his wife, Channah, have taken on the role of making Israelis and tourists in Cape Town feel that love.

Taking on the role of this specific Chabad House seven months ago was a rite of passage for them. Having grown up in Chabad, they believed it important to find the right place to go as a Chabad emissary.

Malka grew up in Kfar Chabad in Israel, and Channah grew up in Sweden, where her parents ran Chabad House in Gothenburg for 32 years. They grew up immersed in the Chabad way, met at a yeshiva in New York, fell in love, and married.

After having two children, Mendi and Mushkah, in New York, the couple started looking for somewhere to go on shlichut – assignment elsewhere to foster Jewish life and serve the community – after helping Channah’s parents with Chabad House in Gothenburg.

“This is an important thing in our house – to bring light to the world, to take the idea of how to help every Jew,” said Malka. “We asked friends if they knew of anything for us, and this idea of Cape Town came up because it’s a big Jewish community and there’s a big family of Chabad shluchim.

“We believe Israelis who speak Hebrew and live here don’t necessarily feel part of the local community. They feel bad because they speak Hebrew, or they have a different mentality, or a combination of all three. We found more than a few hundred families, many of them with kids, and we started to build the idea that perhaps we could open a special Chabad for these Israeli locals,” Malka told the SA Jewish Report.

Malka also spoke to Cape Town shluchim and the head of Chabad in Cape Town, Rabbi Mendel Popack, about what they could offer.

“At the same time, we understand that many tourists come to Cape Town, and we want to be there for them. We wanted to create a Chabad House like people know it around the world. There are many types of help they need: questions about kashrut; some want a Jewish experience in the middle of the trip, so they have a place to stop at Chabad House and talk and to learn something,” Malka said.

“Our Chabad House is a specific place to answer their questions and give them a Jewish experience,” he said. We have a Shabbat meal every week, and up to 40 people attend. We meet up, celebrate, and teach.” The couple also organises activities for various Jewish holidays as well as shiurim.

Other than Israelis, they have had guests from France, America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Spain, Dubai, among other parts of the world.

“We came to Cape Town mainly because of hashgacha prati [divine providence] – the idea that Hashem oversees things happening in the world and will show you the way. We just looked for a place, this idea of coming to Cape Town came up, and we saw the potential and the need,” said Malka.

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