Travelling South African rabbi to visit Australia

April 26, 2013 by  
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A rabbi whose career focused in being the spiritual leader of Jewish communities in rural areas of South Africa will visit Australia next month.

The King of Swaziland meets Rabbi Silberhaft

The King of Swaziland meets Rabbi Silberhaft

Ex-pat South Africans and country Australians are keenly anticipating the first visit to Perth, Melbourne and Sydney by sub-Saharan Africa’s “The Travelling Rabbi”, Rabbe Moshe Silberhaft, to launch a book on his 18 years as country communities and African Jewish Congress spiritual leader.

In late May he will address audiences on his experiences and launch his book “The Travelling Rabbi: My African Tribe.” Published by Jacana Media and on its best-seller list, the book has had 10 launches in the major centres of South Africa, three in Israel and also in Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Known as the rabbi with the largest congregation in far-flung regions, Silberhaft shepherds his “congregants” back into the fold of Judaism through peripatetic ministrations involving the life-cycle events of the Jew – from the cradle to the grave.

Dubbed “The Travelling Rabbi” – the result of a television documentary on his work – his “territory” covers an area some 5000 kilometres long and up to 3000 kilometres wide. It encompasses 13 countries as well as the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar and Mauritius.

The seventh in a line of country community rabbis, Rabbi Silberhaft has injected his passion and love of people, transforming his post into a legendary one. This has gained him the respect and acknowledgement of royalty (including the kings of Lesotho and Swaziland), and presidents and statesmen from several countries. Queen Elizabeth II, expressed surprise on his invitation to Buckingham Palace, that “such a young man” was at the helm of so important a mission.

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks with Rabbi Silberhaft

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks with Rabbi Silberhaft

The Commonwealth Jewish Council and Trust, presented him with an award in London, primarily for sending the Jewish families and their staff food and provisions in the beleaguered community of Zimbabwe when supermarket shelves were literally empty. He has been awarded, too, the Fellowship of the Nahum Goldmann Foundation. He also received the coveted Jewish Achievers award for community service in 2011 – the first time this award has ever gone to a rabbi.

Akin to the flying parsons in the Australian outback, he travels over 25 000 kilometres by road and over 60 000 by air, as a caterer, counsellor and teacher to dwindling Jewish populations. The Rev John Flynn, outback pastor and of Royal Flying Doctor Service fame, would no doubt recognise the vital task of “The Travelling Rabbi”.

His work has many facets – from spiritual leader to a one-man Chevrah Kadisha (burial society), caring for the graves of the forgotten and tracing their descendants, to the “Romantic Rabbi” performing wedding ceremonies on a beach in Mauritius at sunset, a cave and atop a mountain, where the bridal party was flown by helicopter.

The book traces Silberhaft’s journeys, highlighting his invaluable work.

Australian audiences will have the opportunity to travel with him, meet him and hear his stories – sometimes tragic, often humorous, always fascinating – of the resilient people he encounters and recalling otherwise forgotten Jewish communities. Australians from remote regions will no doubt identify with his “flock”.

He will also be happy to sign copies of the book, which is complete with photographs that bring alive, life in country towns and remote communities. Profits from the sale of the book will be directed to The Rabbi Moshe Library at SGOFOTI (Support Group of Families of the Terminally Ill), Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

·       Perth: Tuesday 28 May 7:30pm at Perth Hebrew Congregation Corner Freedman and Plantation Roads Menora

·       Melbourne (note 2 dates & venues)Sunday 2 June- 8:30pm Central Shule Chabad 4 Maple Street Caulfield South; Monday 3 June – 8pm North Eastern Jewish Centre 6 High Street, Doncaster

·       Sydney (note 2 dates & venues) : Wednesday 5 June – 7:30pm  Central Synagogue Bon Accord Avenue  Bondi Junction; Sunday 9 June – 8pm Kehillat Masada Link Road, St Ives



2 Responses to “Travelling South African rabbi to visit Australia”
  1. Lynn says:

    It is the role of good journalism to take on powerful abusers, and when powerful abusers are taken on, there’s always a bad reaction. So we see that controversy, and we believe that is a good thing to engage in.

    Julian Assange

  2. Rita says:

    I hope someone warns this Rabbi not to fly with the newly Islamised Qantas, lest he will finish up in a Dubai prison….

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