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Huge funeral for rabbinical pillar of SA Jewry

Some 3 000 people – from all walks of life – and practically every rabbi in Gauteng attended the funeral of Rabbi Norman (Nachman) Meir Bernhard at West Park Jewish Cemetery on Thursday. Pictured are pallbearers which included dignitaries such as Rabbi Avraham Tanzer, Rabbi Mendel Lipskar, Rabbi Yossy Goldman and Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein. Photo: ILAN OSSENDRYVER FOR SA JEWISH REPORT



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Son-in-law Rabbi Isadore Rubenstein paid tribute to “Abba” in an inspirational message, describing him as a talmid of Rabbi Joseph B Soloveitchik and later as a chosid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Likening him to the greatest leaders, Moshe Rabbeinu and Moses’ brother Aaron, Rabbi Rubenstein said Rabbi Bernhard had possessed the combined qualities of both men – Aaron having been a people’s person and Moshe a visionary. “Aaron realised the vision of Moshe”, whereas the biblical brothers complemented each other.

This combination, said Rabbi Rubenstein, was even present in his father-in-law’s names – Nachman (comforter) and Meir (source of light and truth).

He referred to Rabbi Bernhard’s sensitivity at funerals and other times and never castigating his shul leaders or congregants if they were not observant.

He termed Rabbi Bernhard a perfectionist and described his special partnership with his wife, Joan, and paid tribute to the doctors, members of Hatzolah and the tefillin group, who had helped and cared for Rabbi Bernhard.

“He is finally completely connected (to Hashem)  without the distractions of this world… we pray that every one of us will perpetuate his memory and that he will take his combined vision to the right side of the Aibishter”.

Rabbis who took part in the service at the graveside were Rabbi Mendel Lipskar, head of the Lubavitch Foundation, Rabbi Avraham Tanzer, rabbi of the  Yeshiva College Hebrew Congregation and rosh yeshiva, Yeshiva College, and Rabbi Levi Wineberg, who delivered a personal message.

Rabbi Bernhard’s grandson, Levi Singer, recited the Hazkarah.

In the photograph, pallbearers include Rabbi Avraham Tanzer, Rabbi Mendel Lipskar, Rabbi Yossy Goldman and Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein (Photo by Ilan Ossendryver)

A memorial service will be held at Oxford Synagogue on Monday, October 6, at 18:00.

Also read on SAJR.CO.ZA

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Michelle, Barry Kusman & Family and the Late Grischa(Harry) & Gertie Kaftel

    Oct 6, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    ‘There are no words to describe the sadness in my heart and soul for a wonderful man. Rabbi Bernhard was so much more than what anyone could even begin to put down on paper. Ever since I was 13 years old Rabbi was a HUGE part of our lives. He and my late father had a close friendship and through their friendship I got to know Rabbi. His passing has left a void in my life that cannot be explained or filled. He was a man I respected. One does not get respect, one earns it and there was no one more worthy of respect from everyone that he came in contact with than Rabbi . Rabbi was always around for me even when I never saw him I would hear his voice advising me. An example was at my late father’s funeral. One of our twins wanted to go into the private room where my late father was. I had never done this myself and told my son that he could not come in. ( he was 11 years old).Our son said \”I never asked you. I am telling you\” Before I could answer him I heard Rabbi say \”It’s okay, let him go in \”

    In 1988 my late father had a heart attack in Durban and Rabbi wanted to get on a plane and come. That is the friend that he was to my dad.

     A few weeks later as they were wheeling my dad in for bypass surgery Rabbi put a prayer in plastic and and then in an envelope and placed it under my father’s  pillow as he walked beside him praying psalm 23. It is now 26 years later and I have given that prayer to people that have been very ill and they returned it to me when they recovered. It is one of my most treasured possessions.

    Rabbi, taught me so much and I always turned to him for advise and he always had time to talk to me.

    He taught me the difference between being religious and being observant.

    He helped me make major decisions in my life. I always knew after speaking with him with 100% certainty that the decisions were correct. I never doubted him. He always gave me enough information to provoke thought and analysis of every question and answer them with clarity.

    Through Rabbi, I got to know his beloved and special wife Joan and some of the children. They are such a special family.

    Almost 40 years ago Rabbi married my husband and I. As many knew there were tapes for the future bride and groom to listen to seperately and then a few to listen to together. I realized years later that I had not returned them to Rabbi and felt embararssed telling him. He was overjoyed because he never had the master copy and was happy that he finally had a copy.

    Rabbi, touched the lives of each of our sons in unique and very special ways. Each of them felt Rabbi’s special caring of them as individuals with their own particular interests.

    One could not help but feel his presence which one cannot explain because I don’t know anyone with the beauty that his spirit exuded.

    I now understand what Rabbi was teaching me years ago when he told me that I was religious by the way I lived my life but that he wished that I was more observant.

    I promise to take the steps to honor Rabbi Bernhard’s wishes because with his passing I have realized that there must be a special place where Rabbi and my late father are.  When my time comes I would like if possible to rejoin with 2 of the most special men in my life.

    May your memory be for a blessing as was your life.

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SA Jewish Report is looking for a journalist

The SA Jewish Report is looking for a journalist, who is passionate about and hungry for news and who writes both news and features beautifully.




The applicant must to be tech savvy, comfortable online, on social media and in a newsroom. The applicant must have at least five years’ experience as a journalist and a relevant degree. Please forward your CV and an introductory letter to the editor, Peta Krost Maunder on  

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On the wrong page at the wrong time




The SA Jewish Report wishes to apologise to Dr Yossi Unterslak, a specialist gynaecologist and reproductive medicine assistant at Vitalab, whose face and title was in an advert on the page three of our Rosh Hashanah edition this week. The advert just happened to be on the same page as “Johannesburg doctor guilty of unprofessional conduct”. I wish to place it on record that Dr Unterslak was on that page advertising his participation in Torah Talks and has absolutely nothing to do with the story about the doctor on the page.  The SA Jewish Report apologises to Dr Unterslak for any harm or unpleasantness that derived from the advert being on this page.  – Editor

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Jewish Guild Orchestra reaches out through sweet sound of music

A musical tour around the world was presented to residents of Golden Acres, Sandringham Gardens and members of Second Innings last Sunday by the Jewish Guild Orchestra.





Jewis Guild Orchestra

Professor Brian Buch who conducts the orchestra and is also its musical director, had his appreciative audience clamouring for more. The Jewish Guild Orchestra, although founded in 1944, has still been able to retain its fresh sound. It okays a wide range of light classical pieces and its repertoire last Sunday ranged from the operetta Gypsy Baron by Johan Strauss to the all-time Neapolitan favourite, O Sole Mio.

Expenses of the orchestra are met by its 35 members themselves; they derive no income from its activities. The orchestra was named after its original sponsor, the Johannesburg Jewish Guild which no longer exists. Its founder was the late Dr Solly Aronowsky who served as musical director for 46 years. Its current leader is Dr Bernard Caplan.

The orchestra provides support for amateur musicians, irrespective of race or religion, to develop their skills to perform in public and to enhance their appreciation of music. It also plays to audiences who would not otherwise have access to light classical music, such as residents of old aged homes, the Red Cross, Hospice and the Cancer Association.

“One of our objectives is to provide performances through which we are able to assist various charities or to promote music appreciation among scholars,” says Buch.

“We welcome new players,” says Buch. “We need female vocalists, string and brass players. We need players who are at grade 6 level.”

* For further information, contact Dr Buch on (012) 348-8653 or 071-633-0869

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