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Masinter’s tehillim shine light on the world




Masinter, the director of Chabad House in Johannesburg, and his team of volunteers are committed to turning the pessimistic outlook of South Africa around. For them, it’s not just about promoting positive thinking, but changing the way we address our problems.

Masinter’s tehillim (psalms) campaign has gained momentum every passing month since its launch in January. As the year draws to a close, the Chabad campaign, which ensures that every South African Jewish family has a book of psalms in their home, concludes the first major leg of its project.

About 5 000 primary school students from Glenhazel to Green Point have already received their own copy of tehillim, and Masinter is eager to move on to the next phase.

“We’ve rolled out a systematic distribution scheme of epic proportions,” says Masinter. “We began by asking people if they know of Jewish children attending non-Jewish schools who might not have a book. We’ve found Jews at Crawford, Dainfern, Cedarwood, and St Peters. We’ve found schools we didn’t even know existed, and we won’t stop until every child in the country has one.”

On Friday, a major rally took place at the Kotel in Jerusalem involving primary school students from South African Jewish schools via live feed. It included all the King David schools, Yeshiva College, Bella Vista, Crawford, and Torah Academy. Together with Chabad of Jerusalem’s Rabbi Yossi Swerdlow, these 2 000 students recited tehillim in unison with a view of one of Judaism’s holiest sites.

“The Gemarah says that the psalms, especially those said by children, break decrees against us,” says Masinter. “The prayer of a child is pure, and coupled with the potency of psalms, it can achieve extraordinary things.

“I look at the world, and I see people walking around in darkness. There are some things we cannot fix, but there are some we can. As Jews, we are equipped with the power of prayer. We really do believe it has the power to change decrees in heaven, and we believe that psalms are the most powerful of all prayers. This is all about bringing light and hope.”

Masinter says high school students are next on his list, followed by university students, and eventually senior citizens, whose names he and his team have already begun compiling.

Together, they intend to scour the entire country, locating Jews in every dorp (small town) and every province to ensure that they remain connected. From KwaZulu-Natal to the Free State, his team is going door to door to find every Jew and deliver a book of tehillim into their hands.

 “We’re not doing this as a mere good deed, I really believe this is a solution,” Masinter says. “This is not a ‘nice thing’, but a solution to a problem that brings light into a dark world. It’s a very serious undertaking to which we’re completely committed.”

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