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Letter of Appreciation




Alan and Diane Silber of Ra’anana, Israel , write that unfortunately their grandson passed away two weeks ago. They feel the need to make people aware of the good work done by the South African Chevra Kadisha and other organisations as well as individuals.

Letter of Appreciation:

I want to express my deep and sincerest appreciation to the Chevra Kadisha and to the various individuals and Jewish communities in South Africa for their dedication and commitment for the sterling work they do in assisting those in need and all the other good work they do.

During my recent trip from Israel for the birth and subsequent the unfortunate and tragic passing away of our grandson, Raphael Chaim ben Gabriella Chaya, members of the Chevra Kadisha and various individuals went out of their way to accommodate my and my family’s needs.

Our dearest grandson passed away on Friday morning 21 February at the Sunninghill Hospital in Sandton. Despite the desperate attempts of Rabbis Dovi Rabin and Eitan Ash to have the body released by the State Department to be buried before Shabbat, all attempts failed.

The funeral was then set for Sunday morning, which meant the baby was going to be alone throughout the whole of Shabbat at West Park Cemetery.

Our daughter (Gabi) was particularly distressed with the knowledge that her son was going to be left alone throughout Shabbat, before the burial.

I asked and offered Gabi if she would like me to stay at West Park Cemetery over Shabbat to watch over her baby boy and say Tehillim and say Mishnayot. Although she cared for me that I would be alone during that long and silent Shabbat, she said it would mean a lot to her if I could stay with Raphael.

My longstanding friend, David Weber of the Chevra Kadisha burial society said I was able to stay over and could make use of the facilities (although very limited) throughout that Shabbat.

Late afternoon, just before Shabbat, my nephew, Craig Finberg, suggested that the baby be brought to Sandringham Gardens mortuary as a better option than staying at West Park Cemetary.

David Weber said it was a good and possible idea and immediately made arrangements for the baby to be brought to Sandringham Gardens and called them to make arrangements to accommodate both myself and Craig during Shabbat.

By the time we arrived at Sandringham Gardens, Steve Dewey, the manager of the catering and hospitality division, had not only set up a table and chairs with light refreshments outside the mortuary, but had also set aside a fully laden Shabbat table in the main dining room for us.

He had also arranged a room with a single bed complete with towels, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes for our use that we could utilize during the long Shabbat watch over the baby.

The catering staff and housekeeping staff and those throughout the centre were exceptionally kind and sensitive to our needs in our time of grief. This type of behavior was deeply appreciated and made our sorrow easier to bear.

On behalf of myself, my wife and my entire family, I wish to make public the outstanding service, support and acts of kindness received from all our family and friends, but especially to Rabbi Dovi Rabin of Chabad of Fourways, David Weber of the Burial Society, Steve Dewey and his entire staff of Sandringham Gardens and everyone else who helped in all the arrangements in trying to ease the pain and sorrow in our time of grief. Also, special thanks to Rabbi Jonathan Fox, resident Rabbi of the Chevra Kadisha at Sandringham Gardens for his kind words of comfort at a difficult time for me between Mincha and Ma’ariv on that Shabbat.

A special mention of appreciation and gratitude to my nephew, Craig, for staying with me throughout the long watch and for the recital of Tehillim and the learning of Mishnaot. To my dearest, kindest and loving parents Morris & Ettie Silber for spending quality time with me, sitting outside the mortuary with me for hours and to Bev and Roy Lomnitz for coming past to see that we were cared for.

May all the above be a zchut for the neshama of Raphael Chaim ben Gabriella Chaya.

  • Alan and Diane Silber – Grandparents of Raphael Chaim in Israel; and family Mark and Gabi Baker Raphael Chaim’s parents in Johannesburg.

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