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Sydenham Shul prints Tanya – a first for SA



In what’s believed to be the first time in South Africa, the moral/mystical classic work Tanya was recently printed in Sydenham Shul, Johannesburg, and published by the shul.

Authored by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi and first published in Russia back in 1796, the Tanya is considered “the bible” of Chabad Chassidic philosophy and more than 8 000 different editions have been published around the world.

The Tanya had previously been printed in almost every city and town in South Africa wherever there was even the smallest Jewish community. In this case, the Sydenham Shul Tanya was printed and published by the shul in tribute to Rebbetzin Rochel Goldman for more than three decades of dedication to the congregation and the wider community in honour of her milestone birthday.

A beautiful, illuminated Tanya now adorns the wall where the printing press was set up, and a plaque honouring Rochel stands alongside it. It’s believed to be the very first time the Tanya has been printed inside an actual shul in this country, and certainly the first to be published by a shul, perhaps even internationally.

The Sydenham Shul Tanya is the 8 068th edition. Since then, more Tanyas continue to be printed around the world. In fact, during the current Gaza War, a Tanya was even printed inside Gaza!

The event was addressed by Rabbi Yehuda Stern; Rabbi Yossy Goldman; Rabbi Oshy Feldman of Gardens Shul, Cape Town and son-in-law of the Goldmans; and Rebbetzin Rochel Goldman concluded with her thanks and a mystical appreciation of the Tanya.

Back in 1978, the Lubavitcher Rebbe requested that the Tanya be printed in every Jewish community in the world. The Rebbe’s intention was to “spread the light” of Chassidic/mystical teachings throughout the world to help prepare for the messianic era. That was the spiritual, mystical idea behind the project, but there was also the hope that more Jews would be encouraged to study the Tanya if they knew the book itself was printed in their own community.

The Sydenham Shul Tanya has been bound in a handsome, royal blue, hard cover book with gold print. Copies of the new Tanya are now in the library of Sydenham Shul.

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