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More honest name for ‘macon’

A regular reader and expat now living and working in Seattle sent this to share with fellow SAJR users.





“I love this name,” wrote Sara. “I felt compelled to buy a lot. Feels more honest a name than macon, and a little bit more chutzpahdik too :-).”

SAJR did a Google Search (sorry, Sara, we know you are a Microsoft Exec, but Bing just doesn’t do it for us) and came up with this on KOSHERNEXUS:

Now comes FACON. What is it? It is kosher bacon made from glatt kosher beef. It is a total winner, a Kosher Nexus Five Fork winner!

When we tasted it at the Kosher Food Show, we immediately gave Alan (co-owner) a huge hug and kiss – the stuff is that fantastic.

We have been kosher for just over 50 years. Deep in the recesses of our taste memory, we still remember the taste of the real thing. Well, boys and girls, this is the real thing except made from beef. No – this is NOT beef fry. This is FACON.


US - Fakin

Here is what the company says about the product: ~ Gluten Free ~

“Smoky and salty, this dry-cured beef tastes and cooks up just like the real thing! Whether you serve it atop a juicy burger, sprinkled over a salad or cooked into a pasta sauce, your food will take on a new depth of flavour that will have you coming back for more.”

We are salivating at the thought of a kosher BLT, a Facon wrapped chicken cutlet grilled to perfection, Facon on a burger and Facon and eggs.

Run, don’t walk, to the closest kosher store and buy a whole lot of this really super product. Hats off to the company!

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R. Hazdan keynote speaker at Chabad-Lubavitch event

Some 5 600 emissaries (shluchim) from Chabad-Lubavitch from all over the world gathered at the Pier 8 warehouse in Brooklyn, New York this week for the opening of their four-day annual international conference and banquet, 75 years after the arrival of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, from Europe.





Rabbis and guests from all over America and in fact all over the world, celebrated at a banquet, while followed by numerous viewers watching proceedings by webcast.

Rabbi Dovid Hazdan, spiritual leader of the Great Park Shul in Johannesburg and dean of The Torah Academy, was chosen to deliver the keynote address. He was the third South African to be honoured in this way. Rabbi Yossy Goldman of the Sydenham-Highlands North Shul and Rabbi Ari Shishler, director of Chabad of Strathavon, have addressed previous conferences.

In his address, Rabbi Hazdan said nobody could believe, when Chabad first came to South Africa, the degree to which it would change the face of Jewish life there. When Rabbi Mendel and Mashi Lipskar pioneered Chabad in South Africa in the 1970s, “the country was a very different place. The evils of apartheid had prepared a tinderbox of revolution and the tiny minority of white people had reason to be afraid.”

The Jewish community was stagnant in its religious growth, he said. He recalled the first mitzvah mobile and Succah mobile, part of “an unbelievable challenge to the status quo”.

It required tenacity and perseverance to prevail, he remarked.

Some 40 years ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe introduced his education campaign. Using the example of a mountain partly covered by trees, but with large bare eroded areas, Rabbi Hazdan said “mountains produce trees, but trees preserve the mountains. Communities produce educated children, but educated children preserve our communities.”

He was proud that “Torah Academy has produced shluchim on every continent and in every part of South Africa, with a huge amount of leadership positions being held by the graduates of our school”.

In 1989, Rabbi Hazdan became the rabbi of the Great Synagogue in Wolmarans Street, Hillbrow, “which had an illustrious past, but a very precarious future, undermined by shifting demographics” and situated in what had become a dangerous area.

Many wanted the shul to close quietly, but a small band urged the building of a new shul in a better area. The negative voices said it was not a time to build a new shul.

Rabbi Hazdan saw it as a campaign to build a new shul, because the Rebbe had said it would be good for the Jews in this country until Moshiach came and even better after that.

“It was not a time to close shop,” Rabbi Hazdan said.

Following visits to a hospital emergency room and a hospice, he said they differed in one respect – “whether we believe we can make a difference. If we believe we cannot make a difference, we can wrap things up and arrange the demise in an orderly way.

“But if we do believe we can make a difference, then it is our responsibility to respond with alacrity, determination and with energy and power. We need to respond with the urgency of an emergency room.

“Pessimistic reports about the future of the Jewish people foster dejection and apathy. But tonight is filled with the Rebbe’s emergency personnel,” he said.

Rabbi Hazdan recounted that a few years ago, he addressed a gathering in South Africa of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL), following a speaker who maintained that to reach out to others, we had to compromise our ideals; to reach out we had to be relevant.

Rabbi Hazdan said he was giving the opposite message. “We could only reach out to somebody else with integrity in our own commitment to our values, standards and religion.

“It is only by virtue of the fact that we have a tower of integrity in our own belief that we are able to reach one another. It is only if we are anchored to something higher, that we do not slip here below.”

Many South Africans were represented at the kinus, including Basil Lishansky, of the Great Park Shul, who introduced Rabbi Hazdan on video.

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Edelstein’s grandson’s barmitzvah in Soweto

On Youth Day this year, one of South African Jewry’s most unusual, as well as symbolic and emotionally charged barmitzvah ceremonies took place in Soweto’s Western Jabavu suburb.






Shaun Rosenthal (father of the barmitzvah boy); Mark Goldblatt (cousin); Levi Rosenthal (barmitzvah boy – named Menachem Mendel after the late Melvin Edelstein); and Rabbi Dovid Hazdan.


The Shacharit service was held at the site where Dr Melville Edelstein became one of the first victims of the 1976 Soweto Uprising when he was attacked and fatally injured by enraged protesters. Forty years to the day since the grandfather he never knew lost his life, 13-year-old Levy Rosenthal read the day’s Torah portion.

With him were family, friends and community members, including rabbis, SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) representatives and Jewish day school prefects. Prior to the service, a memorial plaque to Edelstein was unveiled by his widow, Rhona, daughters Shana Rosenthal and Janet Goldblatt, Minister Jeff Radebe and Gauteng Premier David Makhura.


That Melville Edelstein was killed because he was a white man in the wrong place at the wrong time, is one of the great ironies of the Soweto Uprising. As chief welfare officer of the (then) West Rand Administration Board, his dedication to bettering the lot of Sowetans, was well known and appreciated in the wider community.

Through his research work as sociologist, he had also long warned about rising levels of black anger over the regime’s apartheid policies, most notably in his 1971 MA thesis on opinions and attitudes among matric pupils in Soweto.

Executive Mayor Parks Tau at the Youth Day ceremony, described Edelstein as “a peace loving man who dedicated his life to the service of the poor in the then dusty township streets of South Africa”.

He went on to quote the famed press photographer Peter Magubane, who on finding the fatally injured Edelstein after the attack said: “If they had known who he was this never would have happened. Not at all. He was part of the community.”

Through the SAJBD, 20 King David Linksfield and Yeshiva College prefects were among the Jewish community representatives taking part in the Youth Day commemorative events in Soweto.

Following the Edelstein unveiling ceremony and barmitzvah, participants attended the official renaming of a street after youth leader Hastings Ndlovu, who was also killed in 1976. From there, they moved on to the Hector Pieterson monument, where the prefects and SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn laid wreaths. The SAJBD was officially welcomed by the day’s master of ceremonies.

The next morning Kahn and Chaya Singer, at the invitation of Gauteng MEC for Sport, Arts, Recreation and Culture Faith Mazibuko, represented the SAJBD at another commemorative ceremony, this time in memory of the victims of the Boipatong Massacre.

On June 17, 1992, 45 residents of Boipatong, a black township near Vanderbijlpark, were hacked to death by hostel dwellers affiliated to the Inkatha Freedom Party. The atrocity, arguably the most horrific of the many violent incidents that took place in the lead-up to the democratic transition in 1994, saw the ANC for a time pull out of the negotiations process in the belief – subsequently shown to be unfounded – that the police had colluded with the IFP in the attack.

Kahn was called up to jointly lay a wreath with Mazibuko. In her address, the MEC said that it was important to have the Board represented, as Jews understood from their own experiences the kind of tragedy that had occurred in Boipatong.



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Kol isha heading for the Equality Court

Unless something drastic happens at the proposed Cape Town community colloquium next month to try to resolve the differences between two Cape Town Orthodox Jews joined by SACRED (a Progressive-affiliated interfaith group, the SA Centre for Religious Equality and Diversity) and the Cape Council of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies who decided not to allow women to sing solo at this year’s Yom Hashoah commemoration, the scene is set for a ground-breaking court case with huge repercussions all-round.





The Cape Council is being sued by Gilad (Gerald) Stern and Sarah Goldstein and later joined by SACRED on the basis that the Board’s policy amounts to “discrimination of women on the basis of gender”. 

The claimants originally tried to use urgency to lift the ban on women singing at Yom Hashoah, which took place earlier this month, and at future Jewish secular communal events, but were unsuccessful for the recent ceremony.

Kol IshaThe Western Cape High Court Judge President has appointed Justice Lee Bozalek of the High Court, sitting as the Equality Court, to hear the case which has been set down for August 22 and 23.

The outcome of this serious challenge between religious rights and a host of constitutional rights, could become a legal reference case in South Africa.

In their answering affidavit, Cape Board Chairman Eric Marx, sums up the pending legal tussle thus: “While I accept that the (Constitutional) right to equality is implicated in the present matter, so too are the rights to dignity, freedom of association, religious freedom and freedom of choice.”

Marx says his legal advice is that on a “proper balancing of these competing rights”, Stern’s application will fail.

It also seems a distinct possibility that should the parties remain as “immovable” as they are at present, the loser of the Equality Court matter may well challenge the decision in higher courts. Given the high calibre legal counsel involved on both sides, even assuming they are acting at “reduced rates”, the cost is going to be considerable.

In their replying affidavit, Stern et al submitted that, having read the answering affidavits of the Cape Board, SAJBD National President Mary Kluk and Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, they still believe that “a proper case has been made out that the Board has committed unconstitutional discrimination on the basis of gender, and has violated the law”.

The matter has been aired in the mainstream media this month, with Stern having written an op-ed in the Sunday Independent of May 14 and SAJBD National President Mary Kluk responding in the same publication this past weekend. All of the Independent Group newspapers have carried the story.

While Stern states in his replying affidavit that “a large portion” of the Board’s answering affidavit would be dealt with in court, he accuses the Board of “not being entirely candid” in their application. He also questions “certain aspects” of Rabbi Goldstein’s affidavit and maintains that his “entire affidavit is irrelevant to the application”. 

Stern states under oath: “In every other facet of the Board’s operations and activities, it has demonstrated its complete commitment to gender equity.” 

Women, he says, participate at all levels in the Board, including holding leadership positions, and “there is full participation, including women singing at other events under (the Board’s) aegis”.

The Board, in turn, takes Stern to task in its affidavit over a TV interview on ENCA, with Leigh-Anne Jansen. The two quotes highlighted by the Board are: 

  • “My problem is not with the rabbis that don’t want to hear women sing. I regard that as quite quaint, A bit weird;” and
  • “If a rabbi has got a problem with women singing, they think it is going to affect them in the mind or in their heart or in some other part of their anatomy, they need to take a cold shower.”

The Board of Deputies, on the other hand, say it carries out a range of functions on behalf of Jewry, including:

  • “Safeguarding the religious and civil rights, the status and the welfare of the Jewish community”; and
  • “Furthering respect for and the application of fundamental human rights for all sections of the population.”
  • Marx explains that the community comprises two main groupings: Orthodox and Reform. The Board, says Marx, “treads cautiously and carefully preventing discord between both these groups of the Jewish community”.

The Cape SAJBD ensures harmony and cohesion in the community and ensures it does not act “in a way that is divisive or undermining either grouping”. The Board “represents no particular brand of Judaism” and it “exhibits no doctrinal preferences or allegiances”.

In fact, says Marx, the Cape Board has had two “female chairpersons” and the current national president and immediate past chairman is Mary Kluk.

He goes on to say that he can state without reservation that, should Stern’s order have been granted before Yom Hashoah, “many, if not all, Orthodox” Jews would not have attended. This, he told Jewish Report, had been categorically conveyed to him by the Orthodox rabbinic leadership.

He said he believed the court case was premature in that the Board had undertaken to hold a colloquium of Cape Jewry on the matter in June. Marx’s affidavit is supported by affidavits from Board National President Mary Kluk and the Chief Rabbi. 

Stern himself explains in an op-ed in this week’s Jewish Report that he considers himself to be a “Shomer Shabbat Orthodox-ish Jew” and explains to the community why he is litigating.

In a written statement to Stern last month, the Board suggested “it’s caught between a rock and a hard place; either affect women or the Orthodox rabbinic leadership”.


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