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Plenty holiday fare in Johannesburg and Pretoria

Come December, virtually every Gautenger has the words of John Masefield’s poem Sea Fever on his lips: “I must go down to the seas again…”





But many of “us inlanders”, for a myriad reasons, may have to contend with the Highveld sky this holiday.

Some of the plus points of staying home is that there is considerably less traffic, shopping is easier and peace and quiet prevails.

For those in Johannesburg and Pretoria not trekking all the way to a holiday destination, the Jewish Report scouted around for some of the many activities on offer for children and families. 


  • Jewishly, there is the ever-popular Gan Yisrael day camps for children from December 12 to 25. Run by Chabad, under the able direction of Rabbi Pini Pink, the camps are divided into three sections – kiddies (from three to four), girls (from five to 12) and boys (from five to 12).

There are arts and crafts, inflatable rides and water activities among the many attractions.

The girls’ and kiddies’ camps will be held from 09:00 to 15:30 weekdays at Torah Academy and boys – at the same times – at Yeshiva College.

Cost of the camp is R675 (for one week) and R1 200 (for two).

For more information go to or e-mail

  • The Apartheid Museum – the first museum of its kind in the world – offers a unique opportunity to experience what apartheid South Africa was like. Tuesdays to Sundays, 10:00 – 17:00, at Ormonde, Johannesburg. Information:
  • Gillooly’s Farm offers braai facilities around the lake as well as a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. A steep koppie walk boasts views along the Linksfield Ridge. Off the M3 highway, Senderwood. Information:
  • Gold Reef City, created around an authentic 19th-century goldmine. The theme park has an abundance of adventure rides, restaurants and historical sightseeing tours. Tuesdays to Sundays, 09:30 – 17:00. Northern Parkway, Ormonde, Johannesburg. Information:
  • Lory Park and Zoo and Owl Sanctuary in Midrand is the home of South Africa’s biggest owl collection as well as a variety of big cats. Tuesdays to Sundays, 10:00 – 16:00. Information:
  • Northgate Ice Arena offers skating fun for the whole family. Open 10:00 – 22:30 daily at Northgate Shopping Centre, Witkoppen Road, North Riding. Information:
  • The Oriental Plaza in Fordsburg is also the gateway to Mary Fitzgerald Square, Nelson Mandela Bridge, Constitution Hill and the Newtown Cultural Precinct. The plaza will surprise you with exotic spices, fabrics, flavours and scents. Mondays to Fridays, 08:30 – 17:00. Information:
  • SA National Museum of Military History, the only museum of its kind in South Africa, showcasing military memorabilia from as far back as the First World War. Daily at Erlswold Way, Saxonwold. Visit
  • Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown will intrigue and entertain budding scientists with several interactive exhibits. Corner Miriam Makeba Street and President Street. Information:
  • Zoo Lake in Parkview is a popular spot for picnicking with the kids, even taking a leisurely boat ride. Sunrise to sunset, corner Jan Smuts Avenue and Westwold Road. Information:
  • The Johannesburg Zoo in Parkview is a favourite place for kids. Open daily from 08:30 to 17:30. Also open for “Wild Lights Nights”. Call ahead for details. Secure parking. (011) 646-2000 


  • The Camera Obscura (precursor to the modern camera) at Pretoria University allows you to view the whole of Pretoria. Open 11:00 – 15:00 on weekdays, four or more people at a time. Entrance is free, but visitors are encouraged to place a donation in the Science-Enza Vortex Donation Exhibit. Roper Street. (012) 420-3767.
  • The Wonderboom is a fig tree over 1 000 years old. It grew to produce 13 daughter trees, forming a massive shaded area that spans 50 metres. A nature reserve has been built around it to protect it. There are also interesting iron age discoveries made near to the tree and a fort built for protection against the British. Wonderboom Nature Reserve is open from 7:00 – 18:00 in summer. Call (012) 341-5204. Adults (13 years and older) pay R25 entrance fee, kids, aged 7 to 12 years pay R15 and children aged younger than 6 years pay R9. Pensioners pay R16.
  • Union Buildings – pack some picnic stuff and head to the gardens of the most famous buildings in South Africa. Be sure to visit the nine metres statue of Mandela and take in the view. Entrance free.
  • Children will be fascinated to see to Mrs Ples, a 2,3 million-year-old skull at the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History (formerly the Transvaal Museum). R25 for adults, R10 for children. The museum is open every day from 8:00 till 16:00 at 432 Visagie Street, Pretoria. Information: (012) 322-7632.
  • The Climbing Barn with over 450m of climbing walls is open Mondays to Fridays, 16:00 to 21:00 and also on weekends. A day pass is R70 for adults, R65 for students, R60 for scholars, R65 for gear hire (rope, shoes, chalk bag, harness). Beginner classes offered. Plot 210, Korhaan Street, Mooiplaats, 183, Pretoria. Call 082-335-3220.
  • Groenkloof Nature Reserve is the first and oldest game sanctuary in Africa. A 20km mountain bike trail to explore. Open to day visitors from 05:30 to 19:00. R25 entrance fee. Eeufees Road and Christina De Wet Avenue. Information: (012) 440-8316.
  • Outdoor art – Marco Cianfanelli is the sculptor responsible for the Mandela Capture Site monument. His “Urban Being” sculpture stands at nearly 12 metres high and is at the front of the Pretoria City Lodge.
  • The Old Mutual Music in the Gardens concerts is well-known. Have a picnic afternoon there with the family.
  • The Pretoria Zoo is always enjoyed by the children. Open daily at 232 Boom Street. Information:


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Shabbat Around The World beams out from Jozi



More than 75 devices around the globe logged in to Beit Luria’s World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) Shabbat Around the World programme on Friday, 15 January.

Whether it was breakfast time in California, tea time in Europe, or time to break challah in Johannesburg, participants logged in to take part in Beit Luria’s Kabbalat Shabbat service.

Among those participating were Rabbi Sergio Bergman, the president of the WUPJ; chairperson Carole Sterling; and Rabbi Nathan Alfred, the head of international relations. Singers Tulla Eckhart and Brian Joffe performed songs from a global array of artists, along with Toto’s Africa to add a little local flair to the service. After kiddish was said and bread was broken, Rabbi Bergman thanked Beit Luria for hosting the WUPJ. The shul looks forward to more collaborations with its global friends in the future.

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UJW Sewing School graduates model creations



The outfits modelled by graduates of the Union of Jewish Women’s (UJW’s) Sewing School were all the more spectacular for the fact that some of their creators had never seen a sewing machine prior to the four-month course.

They were modelled at the school’s graduation ceremony at Oxford Shul on 15 December to much excitement and applause.

UJW executive member and Sewing School Manager Ariane Heneck expressed her gratitude to Chido Tsodzo, the school’s superb teacher, and the event ended with a much appreciated lunch for graduates and their invited guests.

The self-empowerment Sewing School for unemployed men and women was started by the UJW 10 years ago. It now has a small production team of ex-students, and some of its graduates have been employed in factories, while others are selling their own creations.

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Israel Rugby 7s to camp with the Blitzbokke



The thrill-a-minute Rugby 7s have captured the hearts of fans around the world. The Blitzbokke, South Africa’s national Rugby 7s team, ranks second in the world, and is among the most exciting, formidable, and feared of 7s teams.

Exactly 9 191 km away are the Israelis, an emerging rugby nation that has talent, determination, and a world-class coach in South African Kevin Musikanth. Now, these two squads will meet. The Israeli 7s side will be travelling to the SAS Rugby Academy in Stellenbosch to train with the Blitzbokke.

The Blitzbokke will have the opportunity to prepare for the coming 7s rugby season by measuring their skills of play against the Israelis. And the Israelis, well, they will be rubbing shoulders with, and learning from the best in the world and honing their skills for their coming European Rugby season.

“It’s an opportunity for our boys to learn from the world’s best,” says Musikanth. The SAS Rugby Academy is run by the legendary Frankie Horn, a technical expert whose coaching guidelines and methods are second to none in World Rugby 7s.

Musikanth took over as Rugby 15s head coach in Israel in 2018, and in October 2019, he became director of rugby for the Israeli Rugby Union and head coach for the national programmes of both the 15s and the 7s.

Horn visited Israel last December at the behest of Rugby Israel and its supporting Olympic body and since then, the partnership has continued to grow. The upcoming training camp will begin in Israel, where Horn, together with Phil Snyman, the former Blitzbok captain and multiple world champion winner, will spend a week with the players and coaching staff at Wingate, Netanya, the home base of Rugby Israel. They will then all travel to Stellenbosch for a week’s camp with the Blitzbokke.

“We’ve already seen the difference through our partnership with Frankie. Two of our players were spotted by him on his previous trip to Israel, and have been training at SAS on the off-season,” says Musikanth. The two players are Omer Levinson (scrum half) and Yotam Shulman (lock).

Horn, technical advisor to Rugby Israel’s 7s, says “It is a great opportunity for both teams to derive positive benefit from the camp.”

Israel Rugby has been making considerable professional strides since Musikanth took over the reins. Israel 15s played their 100th test match against Cyprus and celebrated with a 34-22 victory.

“We’re in the top 25 in Europe in 15s and in the top 16 in 7s, the toughest, most competitive continent in world rugby,” says Musikanth, “and I can realistically see us setting our sights on the Top 15 and Top 12 respectively in the future.”

Currently, there are three eligible South Africans who are on the Israeli national squad: Jayson Ferera as flanker (Pirates Rugby Club), Daniel Stein as fly half (studying in Israel), and Jared Sichel as prop (Hamilton’s Rugby Club, Cape Town). Eligibility to play for a national team in rugby is stricter than in other sports. One does not qualify just because one has a passport. One has to have had a parent or grandparent that was born in that country or one has to have lived in the country for at least three years.

“With so much Jewish rugby talent around the world, we would be able to put a world-class Israeli national team together if not for the measures that restrict eligibility to national call ups,” says Musikanth.

The Israel Rugby development project was accelerated thanks to Musikanth initiating Bridges through Rugby. This project is the collective effort of a few South African Jewish businessmen who appreciate the long-term vision of Israel becoming a stronger rugby nation. They have come on board to assist with this most opportune tour. National financial support is fixed and, as such, is limited. While the strong players and national coaches will be attending the training camp in Stellenbosch, there will be some that will, unfortunately, have to stay behind.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players and coaches. To get to see the best upfront and feed off their knowledge is going to be incredible,” says Musikanth. “Everyone is eager to go, of course, but there is a cap to the support we have in place. We would like to take a development u20 squad as well as coaching staff who would carry the benefits of this into the future. A rugby visit to Stellenbosch can change rugby lives in many respects. Stellenbosch is rugby utopia!”

Rugby aside, with the Israelis and South Africans camping together, the question of what will be for dinner after a gruelling day’s training may be a matter of contention. A tussle for whether to serve boerewors or shwarma may result in a scrum in the SAS dining hall to determine the outcome.

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