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Tinkerbell waved magic wand for Joseph

It was not Pam Green of Glenhazel’s day, or actually her week. Someone drove into her car; then there were problems with her insurance and she had to drive to Sandton (although she works nearby) to have the damage assessed.

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SUZANNE BELLING

PHOTOGRAPH SUPPLIED 

Pictured: “Fairy godmother” Pam Green with Joseph Phukubje.

“To crown it all, I drove down a wrong road and had to do a u-turn to get back to where I was supposed to go. When the traffic light turned green, I did this and, in the corner of my eye, I spotted a man holding up a beggar’s banner.

“I ignored it and drove past. Then fate intervened. Something told me to go back, so I parked my car and walked back to the man to offer help.”

The beggar, Joseph Phukubje, a homeless man living under the Grayston bridge, was not holding up the normal banner asking for money, work and offering blessings.

He was holding up his CV and matric certificate and was asking for help to find a job. He admitted he had used drugs and had been sent away from his sister’s home in Mpumalanga.

Pam, who has a history of voluntary work and is an activist providing relief for victims of xenophobia, gave him food and toiletries to clean up. She said she would put a post on Facebook and see if she could help.

She took copies of his CV and matric certificate and bought him a cheap cellphone in case there were responses to her post.

“It was absolutely amazing. I went back to the office at 14:30 and over 1 000 people had received the post, which was linked to 500 others. Thereafter, it went totally viral.”

Pam’s phone was beeping continuously and by the evening she was inundated with responses. One, in particular, looked promising. “It was from Ntando Kubheka who shared a mutual Facebook friend.”

An interview was set up. Pam helped Joseph with money for taxi fare and bought him airtime. She was a little uneasy that Joseph might “cop out”, but after “a little wobble” he turned up for the interview and landed a job with Ntando’s Locomute, a company that hires out cars at a per minute charge.

“They said Joseph could try out all the divisions in the company and choose a job where he felt he would fit in.”

Pam sobbed at her desk when she heard the news. At the time of this interview she had 36 500 shares on Facebook. They have probably doubled by now.

Through social media, Joseph obtained clothes and a place to stay. He was totally overwhelmed.

“Pam, is it real?” Joseph asked his benefactor. “People have been stopping and speaking to me, with all kinds of offers.”

Pam, dubbed “the fairy godmother”, is over the moon and so inundated with requests from people seeking jobs that she created a Facebook page. “Second Chances” and wants to expand it into a fulltime activity.

“I have always thought of myself as a free spirit, a kind of Tinkerbell fairy and am known for dressing up as one for parties. I have found my path, my truth,” she said.

And Joseph ,“a special young man”, has found his.

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Lifestyle/Community

Shabbat Around The World beams out from Jozi

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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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Lifestyle/Community

UJW Sewing School graduates model creations

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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

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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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