New book released about work of rabbi serving small African Jewish communities

04 Sep 2012
04 Sep 2012 Facebook Twitter Email Print

The Travelling Rabbi: My African Tribe - by Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, as told to Suzanne Belling

'The Travelling Rabbi: My African Tribe' is a story of one man’s journey to connect the trailing threads of the sub-Saharan Jewish communities. Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, widely known as the 'Traveling Rabbi’, is the spiritual leader of the Country Communities Department of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the African Jewish Congress. His ‘territory’ encompasses thirteen countries – the entire African continent south of the Sahara – as well as the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar and Mauritius.

Following a long heritage of country community rabbis, Rabbi Silberhaft is the seventh community rabbi in his line. His youth, passion and love of people have gained him the respect and acknowledgement of people from all walks of life. A man of many facets, his personality makes him endearing to those he serves. He is there for those who do not have the luxury of a synagogue around the corner. This book will take you into the hearts and homes of those thought to be forgotten, stories filled with passion, laughter, joy and sadness.

He is the one-man Chevrah Kadisha, caring for the graves of the forgotten and tracing their descendants, as well as the ‘Romantic Rabbi’ who performs wedding ceremonies, whether on a beach in Mauritius at sunset or at the foot of the Twelve Apostles in Cape Town. He is also a caterer, a counsellor, a teacher; but, above all, he is a friend.

Many once-thriving Jewish communities in small towns in South Africa and in other African countries have disappeared and their synagogues closed as people moved to the main cities or emigrated. Whether one, two, or a handful remain, Rabbi Silberhaft is there for them.