Pretoria community hosts Mayor Msimanga
It was the first meeting between the mayor and the city’s Jewish community since the new Democratic Alliance mayor’s party, with the aid of the Economic Freedom Fighters, wrested control from the former ANC-run administration.
“The Jewish community of Pretoria has a distinguished history, one of which they should be justifiably proud. To have the opportunity to worship with you all and to have the prospect of sharing in a Shabbat supper with you, has great significance and deep meaning and we are grateful for the opportunity,” he said.
“Although we may follow different religious paths, we have the same end goal in sight. The Jewish community has always been an important component of life in Tshwane and in South Africa and no one can deny your past and present contributions.”
The mayor explained his vision for the city. “Instead of complaining, become part of the solution,” he recommended. While admitting he did not like talking politics in a house of worship, his vision for the development of the city, struck a warm chord with his audience.
The dinner was held under the auspices of the Pretoria Council, SA Jewish Board of Deputies. Guests included – besides the mayor – Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa Arthur Lenk, DA councillors for the surrounding wards and DA MP Glynis Breytenbach.
On arrival guests were presented with a specially prepared booklet created by Rabbi Levi Medalie, explaining the Shabbat service with the brachot and benching and “The History of Jewish Pretoria until 1930” were given to each guest. Msimanga was also presented with a copy of the book, “Mandela and the Jews of South Africa”.
Ambassador Lenk compared Mayor Msimanga to Jethro, with there being no coincidence to the dinner being held on Shabbat Yitro. Jethro, as a non-Jew, brought sage advice to Moshe. This was an important lesson for us all, namely to heed advice “no matter from whom, and grow with it”.
Rabbi Fox, the spiritual leader of the community explained that every rabbi ultimately delivers only one sermon: the way he lives his life. The mayor was such a man, he said, citing as an example, the fact that Msimanga had, a week ago, stopped at the side of the road to help a Pretoria citizen whose vehicle had broken down.
Opening the bonnet, the mayor was burned by steam from the engine and had to be treated in hospital. This was the epitome of a true leader, one who leads by example.