In 2010 Time Magazine chose Mark Zuckerberg as the “man of the year” for his incredible achievement of connecting 1 out of every 12 human beings through the world’s most popular social networking site – Facebook.
“Yes, we have facebook, but do we have face time? We chat, but do we talk? We have connectivity, but are we connected?”
These were the question put forward by Rabbi Ari Shishler, guest speaker at the Cape Town Miracle Drive dinner that brought together 400 of Cape Town’s prominent Jewish and Business communities in support of the work of Chabad Cape Town, South Africa.
“Decades before the launch of the internet, let alone facebook, the Lubavitcher Rebbe put into place a network, not a virtual network, but a living breathing network, of Chabad Shluchim around the world, wherever Jewish People might be found, not to connect them, but to reveal their already existent connection, with Hashem and with each other.”
Founded in March of 1976 by Rabbi Mendel and Avi Popack, Chabad of Cape Town, the local chapter of the world’s largest Jewish organization, boasts two thriving Community Centres – each with a Family Shul and weekly Hebrew School, the Gan Izzy Day Camp, JLI Adult Education courses, youth and teen activities and clubs, the Friendship Circle for children with special needs, the Sinai Academy primary school on the West Coast, and community rabbis serving in Synagogues across Cape Town.
The Miracle Drive, Chabad’s annual benefit event, is always a popular event on Cape Town’s social calendar and this year was no exception.
“Connected” was the theme of the evening, highlighting the connections that Chabad creates, or reveals as Rabbi Shishler pointed out, between people, and of people with their heritage, their Torah, their potential, and their Creator.
After an elegant cocktail reception (the ideal setting for making connections…) with an open bar hosted by Glenfiddich , the evening’s sponsor, the guests entered the grand ballroom where the decor of stylish “connections” graced the table tastefully decorated – including a puzzle piece on every place setting.
The MC invited ever table to put together their few pieces of the puzzle and after the waiter collected all of the various mini puzzles, they were brought out, framed, in a massive picture of “Children Connected” made up by 5,000 mini picture of Chabad’s activities.
A “mini documentary” film “Connected” was screened with a storyline following a figurative “Tanya Lerner” on her facebook path through five individual stories exploring the impact of Chabad, connecting people across age, backgrounds, continents and special needs, in fast paced yet often moving experiences with Chabad.
The highlight of the evening was the keynote address of Rabbi Shishler whose eloquent talk and powerful message resonated with a crowd well connected in the world of modern technology but thirsty for a more meaningful purpose in the connectivity of it all. Bringing the message of a Torah based outlook on life, his inspiring words made a deep impression on the potential we have to connect, if we are only ready to focus and make the effort necessary for it.
Over and above the powerful theme of the evening, the world class entertainment had the crowd in high spirits, from the jaw dropping show by master illusionist (and comedian) Stan Sussman, exciting table games and amazing prizes won throughout the night, an elegant pearl necklace for all the ladies and leather bound Megillah for all the guests, and topped by the gift of a new Nissan Micra to the winner of the Miracle Drive Grand Prize – Richard and Joanne Goldstein.
“Having never won so much as a chocolate bar at a school fete,” commented the winner Richard Goldstein, “the announcement that I had won the Miracle Drive’s big prize of a Nissan Micra was, certainly, nothing short of a miracle. My wife and I were almost speechless with surprise. It was a fantastic end to a memorable evening showcasing the extensive Jewish outreach work of Chabad. The social networking theme of the night was a fitting backdrop for a movement which clearly makes an immense contribution to the cohesiveness and identity of Jews around the world.”
All in all, it was truly a night of celebration and Chabad looks forward to seeing many more participants joining the wide variety of opportunities from social evenings to advanced lessons, youth clubs to holiday events, and so much more, giving people a chance to feel the beauty of being already “Connected.”
The theme of the “Connected” film was concieved by Rabbi Aaron Popack of Cape Town – NYC, and was produced and directed by Shawn Levin, Rabbi Asher Deren and the Chabad of Cape Town team.