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WIZO gift shop closes after 59 years

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Community

The Elise WIZO Gift Shop sadly closed its doors at the end of 2020 after being a well-known feature of Johannesburg Jewish life for many decades.

The shop was started in 1961 as a small project by the Johannesburg North Branch of WIZO (the Women’s International Zionist Organisation), headed by Elise Kaplan and Berjoulie Press.

From its humble beginnings in a garage storeroom to its last premises in Genesis Fairmount, it was more than just a gift shop.

Before each yom tov, it became a hive of activity, with extra volunteers helping to display, wrap, and deliver gifts all over Johannesburg.

Zelma Meinstein was the mainstay of the shop for many years, ordering gifts, exacting a high standard of professionalism in presentation and service, and roping in her husband, Siggy, to sort and personally deliver mounds of presents in his car.

Kaplan would like to thank the loyal customers for their support over many years, saying that it was always a pleasure to welcome them, and they enjoyed the personal assistance given to them in choosing a gift.

Sincere gratitude goes to the many volunteers who gave their time freely and worked under the guidance of the able and friendly permanent staff.

The camaraderie in the shop was tangible, and the new look décor, thanks to Cindy Polakow, gave the shop a stylish edge and brought in many new customers.

Regrettably due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, our wonderful shop had to close its doors in spite of the tremendous efforts of Andrea and Kim Wainer, who tried to keep it going, and Andy Schwartz, who tried to take the business online.

All those involved with Kaplan were proud to know that they were contributing to WIZO’s important ongoing projects in Israel.

Gifts may still be purchased online through the WIZO office, and a wide range of cards for every occasion, in lieu of gifts, is readily available.

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Community

PURIM WHAT’S ON

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See what is happening in your area for Purim.

Chevrah Kadisha: The Greatest Purim Drive-Thru! The Chevrah Kadisha is throwing open its doors at its premises in Long Avenue, Glenhazel, for the first time in a year to give you the Greatest Purim Show. On 26 February, from 11:30 to 15:00. Drive through the winding maze to see mind-blowing acts and attractions, all from the comfort and safety of your car! Lots of surprises and competitions for the whole family in this free Purim extravaganza.

Sydenham Shul: SydShul’s Spectacular Purim Carousel. Between 12:45 and 14:00 on Friday, 26 February at Sydenham Shul (enter at Main Street balloon arch). Free of charge, all welcome. Kids gifts and a raffle.

Ladies Purim Shiur (on Zoom): “Purim – a story of self-transformation” with Rebbetzin Estee Stern. Sunday, 28 February, 09:30. Meeting ID: 813 028 4050. Password: sydshul

Great Park Shul: Has an exciting COVID-19-safe carnival, with balloons, treats, and lots more. Friday, 26 February from 14:00. Book your children for the best fun ever! Go to the Facebook page, Great Park Shul, for more information or to book.

Greenside Shul: Women For Women – reading of Megillat Esther outside. At 14:30 on Friday, 26 February. RSVP shul office 011 788 5036.

Chabad of Greenstone: COVID-19 friendly Megillah readings on 25 February at 19:00 and 26 February at 17:00. Email: rabbi@chabadgreenstone.co.za for more information.

Sandton Shul: Sandton Shul presents a fun, COVID-19-friendly Purim drive-thru and car dress up on 26 February. Dress up your car to win prizes. Chip n dip and slush available. From 12:45 to 14:00. Here’s the internet link for all Megillah readings in Johannesburg: http://bit.ly/Purim5781_2021

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Benevolent to the fore

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For the past 128 years, the Jewish Women’s Benevolent Society (JWBS) has been working under the radar, assisting those in our community in need. However, since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, it has come to the forefront.

To date, the JWBS has provided more than 3 000 packs of essential winter and summer clothing. Since March 2020, it has donated funds to Africa Tikkun for sanitiser and masks; the Chevrah Kadisha for purchase of personal protective equipment; and Camp Kesher for activities and security. It also sponsored Yad Aharon’s soup kitchen for a week.

Beautiful blankets, in conjunction with nonprofit organisation Warm The World, have been knitted by our talented group of knitters; and the elderly and lonely received gifts and activity packs.

Boxes of books were given to various facilities in Johannesburg and to Jaffa Jewish Aged Home in Pretoria. Some residents have even started their own book clubs.

The men who work so tirelessly at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg received vouchers and gifts from the JWBS. Arrow, the German shepherd security dog and his handlers at Westpark were spoiled too.

All this and much more has been accomplished since the start of lockdown by the hard work and dedication of our staff and volunteers. The generosity of the community has enabled us to fulfil this vital task. We ask you to please partner with us so that we may continue to help those who need assistance during this difficult time.

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Jews around the world call for Moshiach

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For 3 000 years, Jews have been praying for Moshiach (the messiah) to come, but this weekend, the Jewish world is upping its game with a communal prayer demanding that “G-d send Moshiach now”.

So says Rabbi David Masinter, who heads up Chabad House in Johannesburg, and who is behind the prayer to be said at 18:00 (South African time) on Sunday, 21 February.

“One thing COVID-19 has taught us is how vulnerable we all are,” says Masinter. “It’s been a time of introspection. It’s a time of realisation that we need Moshiach. This is how this worldwide Moshiach project was borne.”

According to Masinter, a businessman in Miami came up with the idea, and a universal prayer was formulated.

“Two powerful ways to hasten the coming of Moshiach is through unity of our nation and charity. Therefore, we are encouraging everyone to stop what they are doing, say this worldwide prayer together, and give a little charity at the same time. When Jews all around the world band together for a shared goal, the power is immeasurable.”

Masinter says belief in the coming of Moshiach is a fundamental principle of the Torah, and that we have to yearn for him to come. “This is one of the fundamental principles of our faith,” he says.

“We believe that one day, Moshiach will come, and g-dliness will be revealed on earth. There will be no more war, no more suffering. There will be peace among nations.”

The following prayer should be said at 18:00 on Sunday, 21 February:

“Master of the universe

We, your beloved children

United together around the world at this moment

Are crying out to you in prayer

Please accept this prayer with grace and kindness

We sincerely thank you for all your daily blessings,

But we implore you from the depths of our hearts

To send Moshiach immediately to redeem us with mercy,

From this long exile and suffering

And to bring peace to the world

We can’t wait anymore!

We desire your great name to be revealed

Your dominion in the entire world

And your presence returned to the Beit Hamikdash – the Holy Temple – now!”

“SHMA YISRAEL AD-ONAY EL-O-HAYNU AD-ONAY ECHAD

HEAR OH ISRAEL, THE L-RD IS OUR G-D, THE L-RD IS ONE”

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