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The Beit Emanuel Campus now hosts one of the biggest and best Digital Out of Home (DOOH) screens in the South African market. This Super Sign Digital Screen (4.5m x 18m) is clearly visible from the M1 North, just before the Houghton/Killarney offramp.
A younger Stan Abrahams, centre, presides over the farewell party for Rabbi Arthur Super in 1975. His wife Sally is on the right.
Stan Abrahams’ career at Beit Emanuel began, so he told me, right at the bottom, bailing buckets of water, along with his good friend Dickie Lampert.
On the first High Holy Day service at Temple Emanuel in 1954, the roof leaked, as it would continue to do for the next 66 years. Unfortunately, it was leaking right on to the Bimah, which is why the rabbi inspanned two nearby teenagers to bail water while the service proceeded.
The rabbi made a good choice. Dickie Lampert later became rabbi of Temple Emanuel, and Stan Abrahams became one of its most prominent lay leaders: by my count, he was chairman ten times and that leaves out all the other committees he chaired.
The Abrahams family were remarkable in that he was the third generation to be prominent in the Progressive movement. His grandfather Isaac Abrahams had already been a Reform Jew in England when he was brought out after the Boer War, first as principal of the Hebrew school in Oudtshoorn, then of the Commercial High School in Johannesburg. He also became secretary of the Zionist Federation and founding editor of the Zionist Record newspaper.
Stan’s great uncle, AM Abrahams, who immigrated to South Africa at the same time, became principal of Johannesburg’s first Jewish school. The two of them were founding members of Rabbi Moses Weiler’s fledgling Reform movement in 1933, and for decades afterwards, their printing firm produced all the movement’s publications and even its prayer books.
Stan’s father, Arthur G Abrahams was one of three men who raised the money to buy an abandoned high school and convert it into Temple Emanuel, in 1954. That’s one of many reasons why there is a garden in his memory right next to the synagogue front door, which Stan continued to look after for many years.
Grandfather, father and son were heavily involved in Jewish education, all three serving multiple stints as chairs of the School Board, an institution which in its heyday taught both cheder and post-bar mitzvah classes to a thousand pupils in Johannesburg, and employed a principal and 34 teachers.
At age 27, Stan followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming the youngest chairman of the school board. Five years later he was chairman of Temple Emanuel for the first time. Little known – particularly down the road in Sandton – is that he was also a founder of Temple David, and its chairman in 1977.
Stan became president of the United Progressive Congregation of Johannesburg, the umbrella body of all the Johannesburg congregations, during the era of Rabbi Arthur Super, and he can be spotted in various photographs of the era, seated at top tables at important functions, the youngest man amidst the greying eminences. Later, he became chairman of the national body, the SA Union for Progressive Judaism; indeed, there were very few posts he did not hold.
When Temple Emanuel began fund-raising to build what is now the main synagogue building, Stan played a central role. The synagogue was particularly lavish and expensive, intended to seat 1200 people, during a golden era of great optimism. And Stan too, was a great optimist. I found an article in the Jewish press in which he predicted that the movement was poised to go from strength to strength: unfortunately he made that prediction shortly before the Soweto Uprising of June 1976, after which the movement all-but imploded due to emigration.
According to his close friend Leonard Singer, who would follow Stan as chairman several times over, Stan was passionate and proprietary about Temple Emanuel and its community, indeed “almost fanatical”. He had the charm of a good negotiator. He was also steely, and when he decided on a matter of principle, nothing would shake him from it.
That would explain why Stan was a central figure in more than one of Temple Emanuel’s civil wars – and there have been plenty of those. Most famously, he was a key member of the Temple Emanuel Survival Committee, a group of former chairmen who battled against the regime of Rabbi Ady Assabi in the early 1990s. Despite losing an expensive court case, they eventually forced the rabbi’s departure. The issues were too complicated to summarise here, but perhaps personality was part of it: Assabi was flamboyant, dictatorial and a rule breaker; Stan represented an old-guard, cautious and conservative, determined to preserve tradition.
If one day we are allowed back into the Shul, look out for a board above the Janks Hall door listing all the chairmen from that moment onwards, with Stan’s name the first on the list. Temple Emanuel was down to 80 families in 1993 and had no rabbi or money. It is a significant tribute to Stan and those around him that within a few years, they had a rabbi and more than 500 families.
Stan had a reputation as the man to manage crises. When a stormy special meeting ended the Temple Emanuel career of yet another rabbi in 2008, and a number of members quit, Stan was brought back for his last term as chairman, as the person most likely to restore calm. Less publicly, he was a regular and generous donor to the congregation and all its causes. In between all this, he was an equally fanatical runner and cyclist.
Stan was one of only two men to be awarded the title of honorary vice president of the congregation, the other being the much older Jack Jankes. Perhaps the greatest honour though, was one he would never know about. The Chevra Kadisha buried Stan in the “Gedolim” section of West Park, reserved for illustrious celebrities of the Jewish community. I can think of no other example of a leader of Progressive Jewry being given such an honour. But as of this week, there lies Stan, alongside Donald Gordon.
Stan is survived by his wife Sally, married to him for 58 years, three children, and eight grandchildren. Ailing for a long time, he died on Tuesday, aged 83.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.beitemanuel.co.za/2020/07/09/farewell-stan-abrahams-ten-times-chair-of-beit-emanuel/
(From Dr Paul Davis, Chairman, Beit Emanuel Management Committee)
Our Management Committee met along with Rabbi Shaked earlier this week to discuss whether to return to physical services from this Shabbat. Our unanimous decision was that this would be premature, given the demographics of our congregation, and the risk that the pandemic might enter a second phase. We will also not be opening the administrative offices yet. The issue will be reconsidered in six weeks’ time, i.e. mid-July.
Among the issues that were raised were:
The pandemic is likely to continue for some time, months or even years.
Our community includes many aged members, and people with medical conditions. Face-to-face communal engagement could be a real danger to them.
Our virtual services, educational programs, social and communal activities have been well supported and seem to be gaining in favour. Our use of the technology is becoming more sophisticated. We are so far managing quite adequately without use of the physical infrastructure.
It seems likely that hybrid activities (i.e. face to face, indoor and outdoor and virtual) will become a permanent feature of our future offerings. We should aim to be leaders of this new methodology in vision, content and technology.
The following broad actions have been agreed:
There will be no on-site services for at least six weeks, when the matter will be reconsidered.
We will use this time to prepare our Campus for our return. We will appoint a COVID-19 Compliance Officer to ensure that BE meets the requirements and is up to date with any new or changed circumstances. We will announce the appointment in the near future.
Prior to any return, the BE campus will be properly prepared (cleaned and sterilised) and have all the necessary PPE, disinfectants, COVID-19 spacing plans and cleaning procedures, training and facilities in place.
Administration offices will be opened on a needs-only basis. Before and after each session, facility and personal compliance with anti- COVID-19 measures are to be followed.
We hope that these arrangements, though not perfect, will suit most of us and keep us safe. This is a fluid and uncertain time, so our position will be reviewed frequently and if changes are required, we will of course notify you all.
COVID-19 is a Groot Klap! As we emerge from this crisis it seems to me that we should not even try to recreate what we thought we were. Honesty and reality are the new watchwords of the way forward.
The spiritual side of Beit Emanuel is emerging stronger. A dedicated sense of community and devotion rooted in our Jewishness is growing without the need for the buildings or the accoutrements of our Jewish practice. We are getting to know and appreciate each other at a different and more satisfying level. Our care programs have expanded and intensified to those most vulnerable. Most of our educational and study groups continue with a new vigour. The important life cycle events are acknowledged and marked in new and exciting ways.
A strong solidarity and mutual understanding is emerging with our sister congregations. South African Progressive Judaism is strengthening, gaining confidence, and drawing the attention of the wider Jewish and other communities. All these are positive and optimistic portents that can enrich our lives.
But COVID-19 also forces us to deal with our community’s survival. Lockdown has reduced or removed essential revenue that has kept us afloat over the years. More than R75 000 per month of income from renting out premises for church services, a school and the billboards, has been lost. Up to the end of May we will have lost R150 000.This unrecoverable amount will increase to R450 000 by the end of September. We can just manage to meet our obligations until the end of June, but after that it is very unlikely without your help.
What will make a huge difference, would be the rapid collection of outstanding subscription amounts that are not covered by debit orders. This figure currently stands at R435 000. If that amount can be garnered, it would greatly assist in seeing us through to Rosh Hashanah.
We are very aware that hard times are upon us all. But I entreat all those who are able, to make every effort to settle as much of your subscriptions as soon as possible.
To those who can, may I also ask if you can consider an additional donation in support of our congregation?
In the meanwhile, we can assure you that your management committee are making every effort to seek other financial lifelines. COVID-19 has in a sense undressed us, forced us to look at ourselves with x-ray eyes. Our hope is that this is our opportunity to rebuild ourselves, focusing on what has been revealed to be relevant and meaningful and worth continuing. A plague has given us the opportunity to clear the decks.
CALL FOR DONATIONS OF NON-PERISHABLE FOODSTUFFS/DONATIONS FROM THE UNITED SISTERHOOD
Due to the lockdown, The United Sisterhood has not been able to do our normal monthly food collections outside Pick n Pay branches.
Without these collections, we have been unable to supply food parcels for the families that we feed on a monthly basis.
In April and May, because of the lockdown, we donated the cash equivalent of a food parcel to our recipients.
Our organisation unfortunately, is not in a financial position to continue monetary funding in lieu of food, for these families.
We are asking for help from all of you.
By either donating non-perishable food items, (we can collect), or EFT any amount, (no matter how big or small), so that we can continue with our vital work of feeding the needy.
Food items needed:
2 minute noodles
Tea or Coffee
Milk (long life/powder)
The United Sisterhood
Nedbank, Current Account
Branch Code 191605 Account Number 1916 004 172
Reference: [SURNAME] CORONA
We thank you in anticipation, on behalf of those who will benefit from your thoughtfulness.
REQUEST FOR SECOND-HAND ITEMS
On a lighter note, during the first few weeks of lockdown, I decided to do some decluttering (never seem to get time to do this).
I found items in my clothing cupboards that I had not worn for years.
Then the kitchen cupboards!! I found utensils that I used a long time ago, but now no longer find useful.
If you have bags of what you may feel are worthless items, please give us a call on (011 646 2409), or e-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will gladly collect your “unused and unwanted items” which could become someone else’s “treasures”, when we reopen.
All items will go into our second hand “boutique” and when we get back to some sense of normality, we hope that we will be selling again, to raise much-needed funds for The United Sisterhood.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.beitemanuel.co.za/2020/05/15/appeal-on-behalf-of-the-united-sisterhood/
Our Care Committee has met the challenge of the COVID-19 Lockdown head on. A matrix of resources available to provide support and deal with issues around mental and psychological well-being has been published and is widely referred to. Several weeks ago, the Care Committee looked at ways to extend that care beyond our immediate community and suggested a few options for those in a position to donate financially. Details were published in our weekly Bulletin and are now being made available on the website for ongoing reference. Please make use of the links below.
Our schedule of services, activities and resources for the initial 5-week Lockdown period in SA has been extensively updated and simplified. The schedule covers all regular scheduled events on the Beit Emanuel calendar, apart from Festival evening and morning services and ad-hoc events. The schedule is available in Google Docs format from the link below, and can be downloaded for easy reference as a Word or .PDF document.
The document outlining the resources available for support and mental and psychological well-being during Lockdown is now also available online, and can be found at the link below. The document includes contact details for our own Care Committee, as well as organisations such as Lifeline JHB.
The schedule below lists our online services and other activities/events for the duration of the Lockdown in South Africa.
All services and other events have been set up as recurring meetings, so links to Zoom meetings will not change from week to week. (The recurring meetings have been scheduled up to 2 May 2020. Let’s hope this will suffice!) All Zoom meetings are now password-protected to counter the “Zoom bombing” phenomenon. The password will remain the same across all Zoom meetings for the remaining duration of the Lockdown, unless it becomes compromised in some way.
Various other security measures have been applied to our Zoom meetings, depending on the nature of the event. We have tried to find a balance between making our online services and other events accessible and ensuring that they are not disrupted by bad actors. In the interest of conserving Internet bandwidth, video will be turned off by default for all meetings but can be turned on once you’ve joined the meeting.
The links to some of our classes and study sessions have been provided for the sake of completeness, but we suggest that you liaise with the organiser beforehand, rather than simply “arriving” at the session. The affected sessions are the Beginner’s Hebrew Class, the Introduction to Judaism (ITJ) Class and the Talmud Study Group.
If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to the Beit Emanuel WhatsApp Channel by clicking on the link below. Updates will usually be sent weekly (with more frequent updates in unusual circumstances such as these).
Beit Emanuel’s High Holy Days compilation of sermons, speeches and photographs, as promised by Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked. The publication, compiled by Irwin Manoim, features an introduction by Professor Merle Williams, sermons over the three weeks by Rabbi Shaked, the Yom Kippur speech by BE chairman Dr Paul Davis, and the Pride Shabbat speech by Zandi Sherman, accompanied by photographs of our events.
In the words of the publication’s editor, Scott Hazelhurst, “This publication shows the vibrant life of the shul, as a proudly Jewish and South African community. The theme of the publication explores progressive Jewish identity in Africa. Some of the contributions are adapted from sermons given by lay readers or our guest rabbi while Rabbi Shaked was away, others are from JTalks, while some are specially written contributions. My thanks to all the contributors for their time and insight.”
If you haven’t yet been able to pick up a hardcopy of the publication (available in the Shul Foyer), please feel free to view it online or download it to your PC or other device.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.beitemanuel.co.za/2019/10/17/beit-emanuel-hhd-publication-2019-5780/
Visitors from South Africa and abroad are invited by Rabbi Saar Shaked to spend the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at the friendly and welcoming Beit Emanuel Progressive Synagogue in Parktown Johannesburg. Our services are based on the new international machzor, Mishkan Hanefesh, which re-incorporates many of the traditional elements.
Beit Emanuel is conveniently located close to the main M1 motorway and the Oxford Road arterial. We are a five-minute drive from the city centre to the south and the business and hotel hub of Rosebank to the north.
This year, Rosh Hashanah runs from Sunday night 29 September, to the evening of Tuesday, 1 October. Yom Kippur is on Tuesday night 8 October and Wednesday 9 October.
The fee for attendance on the High Holy Days is R360 per person (R540 per couple/single plus children or R720 per family). Those attending will need copies of the two volume machzor, Mishkan Hanefesh. Those who do not have this machzor, may arrange to buy the two-volume set for R700. Please contact Financial Administrator Christine McIntosh in this regard.
Our service times are:
Sunday 29 September to Tuesday, 1 October 2019
Erev (evening) service: Sunday, 29 September at 6.00pm
Shacharit (morning) service: Monday, 30 September at 9.30am
Tashlich ceremony (Zoo Lake): Monday, 30 September at 12.30pm
Erev (evening, 2nd day) service: Monday, 30 September at 6.00pm
Shacharit (morning, 2nd day) service: Tuesday, 1 October at 9.30am
Erev (evening) service: Friday, 4 October at 6.00pm
Shacharit (morning) service: Saturday, 5 October at 9.30am
Tuesday 8 October to Wednesday 9 October 2019
Fast commences Tuesday, 8 October at 5.52pm
Kol Nidrei and Evening Service: Tuesday, 8 October at 6.00pm
Shacharit (morning) service: Wednesday, 9 October, 9.30am to 12.30pm.
Mussaf service: Wednesday, 9 October, 12.45 to 1.45pm.
Shiurim or study sessions (different options): Wednesday, 9 October, 2.00pm to 3.30pm.
Minchah (afternoon) service: Wednesday, 9 October, 3.45pm to 4.45pm.
Yizkor service: Wednesday, 9 October, 5.00pm to 5.45pm.
Neilah service Wednesday, 9 October, 5.45pm to 6.45pm.
Fast ends: Wednesday, 9 October, 6.43pm
Havdalah: 6.45pm to 7.00pm.
Apples, honey, tea/coffee and water will be available to break the fast.
L’shanah Tovah! May your year ahead be filled with peace, happiness, and good health.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.beitemanuel.co.za/2019/09/17/spend-the-high-holy-days-with-beit-emanuel/
The highlight of this week’s Shul Calendar will be the Bat Mitzvah of Akierrah Magrath at 09.30 on Saturday Morning. Because of the Battie, the service will be held in the Shul rather than the Boardroom or Garden, and the Brocha will be held in the Janks Hall. Mazal Tov to Akierrah on realising this Jewish life-cycle milestone.
Our week of load-shedding
Almost our entire programme for last week was affected by Eskom and City Power’s load-shedding schedule, including our Purim festivities, Purim Night Market, Friday’s Shabbat evening service, the Broach sponsored in celebration of Clive Chipkin’s 90th birthday, as well as our Shabbat morning line-up. Despite the load-shedding (perhaps even partly because of it) all the events were a stunning success, held by the light provided by our generator, emergency lamps, torches, and of course the ubiquitous smartphone LED torches! Suffice to say that we managed to do justice to all the occasions and events, but it’s no something I would like to contend with every time we have something on! The generator has just been serviced (it was running a little ragged towards the end!), so we’re ready for the next outage, but grateful that this has been a load-shedding-free week (at least so far).
Erev Pesach Communal Seder
Booking is now open for Beit Emanuel’s Communal Seder, which will (predictably) be held on Erev Pesach, Friday 19 April 2019 in the Janks Hall. The menu and pricing have now been finalised. The cost for Adults is R350, Children (7-13) R225 and R120 for those under 7. The Menu and Booking Form are attached.
Please book through Morgana Segel in the Shul Office (from Monday) on 011 646 6170 or email@example.com. To simplify the administration, please complete and return the Booking Form by email, Fax or hand (don’t post). Please note that bookings will not be confirmed until payment in full is received. Please use the Beneficiary Reference YOUR SURNAME/SEDER. Bookings will close on Friday, 12 April 2019.
We’re including an extract from Paul Davis’ Chair’s address at our recent AGM, which he titled ‘What I think I think’, along with a response from Michael Fridjhon. Paul believes that this might be a good goad to prod the SA Jewish community into some discussion.
Hopefully we’ll see this piece published in the wider SA or international Jewish community. If so, remember you saw it here first!
Sizwe Hospital School
We received a very nice letter from the Principal of Sizwe Hospital School (Tahera Seedat) to say thank you for the Teddy Bears (Ubuntu Bears) which were donated for their young patients. The thank-you letter forms one of the many attachments to this week’s Bulletin. On that subject, I apologise for the blizzard of attachments this week, but there’s a lot happening out there, and we’d like to reflect some of it here, especially as it impacts on Beit Emanuel.
Night of Solidarity against Hate and Islamophobia
As one would have expected, Rabbi Saar was invited to attend and address the Night of Solidarity against Hate and Islamophobia held by the Jamiatul Ulama (Council of Muslim Theologians) in Mayfair on Moday. (The event was held in response to the recent shooting in Christchurch, NZ.) I don’t have a copy of his address to hand (I hope to publish it next week), but I have attached a copy of the letter of gratitude and thanks signed by E I Bham, the Secretary General.
Pink Smoke over the Vatican
This award-winning 2011 documentary on the ordination of Catholic women into the priesthood will be screened in the Slome Auditorium on Saturday, 30 March at 15.00 for 15.30. The screening will be followed by discussion to be led by invited guest Bishop Patricia Fresen. This is not a Beit Emanuel event, so please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. A small donation to cover the cost of the venue hire and light refreshments would be much appreciated by the organisers. Please see the attached flyer for further details.
Please pencil in the afternoon of Sunday, 7 April for the next Cinema Emanuel (JFilm) event in the Slome Auditorium. The movie title, format and cost will be published in next week’s Bulletin.
Please don’t forget to bring along a non-perishable food item for the bin in the Foyer, in support of the United Sisterhood’s important work.
Shabbat Shalom, and see you in Shul.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.beitemanuel.co.za/2019/03/29/beit-emanuel-matters-29-30-march-2019/
Plenty of interesting snippets this week, with our focused sub-committees (Subcoms) getting into gear for 2019.
Annual General Meeting (AGM)
First, a new date for our AGM. Mancom is proposing several changes to our Constitution. In order to give all those involved enough time to discuss, agree and formally draft the proposed amendments, the AGM has been postponed to Thursday, 14 March 2019. The AGM will be preceded by a very brief Special General Meeting (SGM) to (hopefully) ratify the amendments. If all goes without a hitch, the AGM will then take place in terms of the revised Constitution.
BE Book Club
Based on feedback from the survey undertaken last year, the BE Book Club (JBooks?) will have its first meeting on Wednesday, 20 February at 10h30. The meeting will be held at the Shul, probably in the Jewish Library. Please RSVP to Morgana Segel at the Shul Office and diarise if you’re interested. More information will be provided in next week’s Bulletin.
Putting FUN into FUNdraising
Last year we brought you our annual spring market, this year we have so much more planned…
Coming up next:
The Wizz of Quiz Night: dust off your minds and put them to the test on 24 February from 5 until 7. Gather a table of ten of your most favourite smarty-pants and compete to be crowned Beit Emanuel’s Wizz of the Quiz. Pan-faced, deeply smart and incorruptible quiz master, Ian West, will put us through our paces. R120 ticket gives you a place at the table, a light bite to eat, and a small something to drink.
Purim Night Market: what better combination than a warm summer evening, the joy of Purim, and opportunity to buy artisanal food. Diarise 20 March for our Purim Night Market.
The Raffle of All Raffles: all I can say, is its big! And it’s happening! A raffle that baffles. Save your pennies, coz you are going to want to be part of this. Details to be announced.
Hebrew with Carmit
We have re-launched our Saturday morning Hebrew classes with Carmit.
Aleph is for absolute beginners, and the focus is mainly is mainly on learning to read and meets the needs of those on our Introduction to Judaism (ITJ) Programme (Conversion Class).
Bet is for those who can read and would now like to develop Hebrew conversational skills.
The cost is R100 per lesson. Please contact Carmit (details in the sidebar on Page 3) for further details, or Morgana Segel in the Shul Office to book.
After about a week of smooth running, our telephone system is acting up again. When taking incoming calls, we can hear the calling party, but they can’t hear us! These one-sided calls are affecting all our users, for both incoming and outgoing calls, internal and external. This has been reported to our service provider for resolution.
Shabbat Shalom, see you in Shul
Permanent link to this article: https://www.beitemanuel.co.za/2019/02/01/beit-emanuel-matters-1-2-february-2019/