The Chabad of Fourways in Johannesburg recently held a celebratory dinner at the Monte Casino Ballroom, marking 6 years of outreach in the greater Fourways area.
The Chabad center has grown in 6 years from a small Shabbat Minyan to a thriving Shul community, Jewish Montessori Preschool, Hebrew School and a plethora of programs and activities for the broader Jewish community in this outlying but vibrant suburb.
Quickly surpassing the target of 200 guests, within weeks after the announcement the event guest list grew too close to 350 participants who came to show support and admiration for the pioneering work of Rabbi Dovi and Yael Rabin, leaders of the community.
The idea for a Gala Dinner was born of a year ago when members of the community felt it was time to “do something big” says Rabbi Rabin, “to invite both our own members, and supporters from across town, to reflect on how far we’ve come over the last six years.”
The atmosphere was light and the diverse complement of entertainment at the dinner moved with swift alacrity under the elegant hand of Trisch Rosema.
The evening opened with the comically deceptive talent of the “Speed Painters” whose seemingly irreverent splashes of paint on big revolving black board canvas were suddenly rotated in to position displaying a magnificent portrait of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Another board was soon moved in to position revealing a striking portrayal of President Nelson Mandela. The lyrical magic of Choni G’s golden voice backed by the musical chords of Johnny Sklar lifted the spirits of the celebration with some of their beautiful choice pieces.
The Keynote Address was delivered by Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, executive Director of the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies who travelled from Jerusalem especially for the dinner as a note of gratitude and vote of confidence in Rabbi and Mrs. Rabin who began their leadership career at Mayanot. Reflecting on the Rebbe’s vision of touching every single Jew throughout the world and having a positive effect on all of humanity, he eloquently described how a community comprises of many different individuals and through everyone playing their part it ensures the growth and success of the community. Rabbi Shemtov then asked the crowd to join him in reciting psalm 20 in honor of our boys that were kidnapped and asked everyone to please take on one good extra deed in their merit.
The main course was then served where under the epicurean mastery of Chef Eli Unterslak, a delicious buffet of rare meats, and a dizzying array of exquisite salads and dishes was served, along with a free flowing cocktail bar, in addition to the opening reception also under his catering of sushi and hors d’oeuvres which welcomed the guests on arrival.
Thanking his parents and parents-in-law for their endless support and encouragement, Rabbi Dovi Rabin began his greetings with warm appreciation for everyone that has brought Chabad of Fourways this far. He presented a beautiful portrait of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to Mr. Moshe Reuven Schneider, thanking him for his financial support towards the activities of Chabad Fourways as his partnership in building a thriving community and school. Reflecting on how his own father was drawn in to the warm embrace of authentic Yiddishkeit through a chance encounter with Rabbi Mendel Lipskar, the Rebbe’s Head Shliach to Southern Africa, he encouraged all of the guests to see themselves as leaders in the Rebbe’s vision to transform the world and affect other people’s lives.
Inviting the audience to see first-hand the life and love at Chabad of Fourways, there was then a beautiful video presentation on the broad array of activities, primarily their Jewish Montessori nursery school for children who otherwise wouldn’t have this opportunity, but also The Shul services, Jewish Women’s Circle, Festival Celebrations, Hospital Visitations, Chaplaincy to the prison, Bar and Bat Mitzva programs and classes, weekly Shiurim and general outreach to the greater Fourways area.
The dinner ended in fine style with a live auction and great entertainment from Nik Rabinowitz, one of South Africa’s top comedians who had the crowd in hysterics and ended of the dinner in fine style.
While Fourways may have been known until now for its Casino and Bird Parks, henceforth the landscape has changed forever. The seeds of Yiddishkeit that have been planted and slowly nurtured at Chabad of Fourways over the last six years are blossoming in to pillars of Torah and Mitzvah that are bringing together a new community of Jewish joy and pride for all of South Africa and the world.