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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Dear Editor,

I was disappointed to read the reports concerning the two “Dissatisfied DUHC Congregants” meetings in the July and August editions of your fine magazine.

At the AGM of the DUHC on 23 April 2015, the past Chairman, Warren Shapiro, made clear that if thirty congregants exercised their right to call a requisition meeting, the Council would immediately convene one so that the whole congregation could express itself regarding any proposed resolutions.

It is unfortunate that it took over two months for the requisition to arrive but the council called the requisition meeting immediately upon receiving it.

Whilst it is tempting to seek to “set the record straight” here, it is far more appropriate that this occur at the Special General Meeting on 27 July 2015. It will then be for our congregants to decide, and the council will accept their decision – with humility and respect.

Shalom bayit within our beloved congregation will not be enhanced by a tit for tat debate in the communal press, but rather with a respectful and considered exchange of views in the correct forum.

Whatever the outcome, the council has confidence in and is proud and grateful to have served the past and present members of the DUHC.


Yours sincerely

Maurice Sacher

Chairman – DUHC

Dear Editor,

I was unhappy to read the letter from Suzanne Edmunds in the July issue of Hashalom, not because of its contents, although much of it was

inaccurate (and I gather the inaccuracies will be dealt with in a response on behalf of the D.U.H.C. in the next issue), but because you

appear not to have followed the time-honoured journalistic custom of permitting an Institution that is being attacked, a right to respond to

the attack in the same issue. 

I believe that that custom is recognised and followed by most reputable journals, of which I have always regarded Hashalom to be one. Hence my unhappiness.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Magid. 

All letters are referred back to the relevant subjects, including the amendments and edited versions. Because of time constraints last month, the right of reply was only available in August. However, the DUHC informed Hashalom they would not be making use of it. All members of the community are welcome to submit letters, as Hashalom’s policy is to ensure a balanced perspective on all issues. -  The Editor

Letters to the Editor

2nd Meeting of Dissatisfied DUHC congregants

Dear Editor,

2nd Meeting of Dissatisfied DUHC congregants 

The second meeting of the dissatisfied DUHC congregants was held on the 29th June at the DJC at 1730.

The Chairman, John Moshal, as at the previous meeting, announced that the discussions were called not for ‘Rabbi bashing’ but to seek a way forward for, and a resolution to, the problems facing the DUHC.

Moshal said that the issue had been personalised as a one man crusade and that this was totally unacceptable. The attendance levels at these two meetings alone showed this was not a ‘one man show’.

Moshal re-emphasised that he was determined to find a solution to the problems, financial and otherwise facing the congregation, and tabled a note from a concerned senior member who laid out, in crystal clear fashion, the problem. This follows:

What  the Council has not told  you was how they were going to keep the shul alive financially. Let me give you a few numbers from our accounts;  

The loss for last year was R1,680,000 and it is anticipated to be approximately the same for the current financial year.

Notwithstanding the size of this loss, nothing has been done to stop the financial calamity.

The total income from membership and seat rentals after allowances was R1,000,000 and is budgeted to reduce to R750,000 for this financial year, before a provision of R180,000 for bad debts.

The main cause of the problem is over the last 30 years our Jewish population in Durban has decreased from +/- 7000 to +/- 1600. This decrease is aggravated by the average age of the present population which today must be +/- 60yrs. This has obviously effected the membership of the shul and the finances, and we now have two shuls to worry about.

What I fail to understand is our council, who know these numbers, have failed to take whatever action to deal with this calamity.

I am aware the shul has been sold (I hope) and that there will be funds that may be available after building a new shul, but income from rental of R1million will cease.

Surely this is not the way to go forward 

This is a clear indictment of the Council.

This and its intransigence lead us to call for a Special General Meeting.

From this it was proposed that the following Resolutions be put to a Requisition Meeting called for the purpose:


The Council of the Durban United Hebrew Congregation be called upon to convene a Requisition Meeting in terms of Bylaw 20 immediately upon receipt of these resolutions, and the requisite number of signatures from 30 (thirty) members in good standing.

Such Meeting to be convened within 30 (thirty) days of receipt of such requisition.

The Notice shall be delivered in accordance with Bylaw 21, and shall be conducted in accordance with Bylaws 22, 23 and 24.

The business to be conducted at the Meeting shall be to determine whether or not to dissolve the current Council of the Durban United Hebrew Congregation and elect a new Council for the Durban United Hebrew Congregation.

To appoint, at the Requisition Meeting, an independent firm of auditors to conduct a forensic audit into the affairs of the Durban United Hebrew Congregation, and any other entity constituted by the Durban United Hebrew Congregation or related thereto.

Any other issues relevant thereto.”

Questions and answers followed.

The meeting was attended by 110 members and past members of the Congregation and a lively discussion ensued.

The signed forms from members in good standing were then collected to a total of 74. As this was greatly in excess of the 30 required for a Requisition Meeting, they were presented to the Council of the DUHC.

It is hoped, most sincerely, that the result of this will be a strong Council  devoted to the resolution of all problems to the satisfaction of all. The ideal scenario would be for the matter to be resolved before the meeting is held.

Since writing this report the Council has called the meeting and attempted to amend the resolutions.

This totally ignores the fact that the resolutions are specified by the signatories, not the Council.

This further underlines the problems faced and airs reform absolutely vital.

By the time this is published all will be history. Let’s hope and pray that we achieve the correct and right and just solutions.

“Dissatisfied DUHC Congregants”

This letter has been edited to remove all references to individuals.


Letters to the Editor

Dear Prof Arkin

We note with sadness that you are no longer in a position to continue contributing to your column In Perspective published in the Hashalom.  However, after 20 years of uninterrupted contribution, you certainly deserve to take a break!  Your more than 200 columns have enlightened the Jewish community with both valuable knowledge and insight for which we are most grateful and thank you most profusely. 

The exec joins me in wishing you a contented retirement. 

Kind regards

Ronnie Herr


The Editor, 

On behalf of many of your readers, the DPJC express the deep regret felt at the decision of your ‘signature’ contributor – Professor Marcus Arkin to retire. Words, adequately conveying the appreciation for the contribution he has made, not only to your esteemed magazine, but to the community as a whole, are difficult to find. His font of wisdom and wry humour which he so generously shared will be missed and the knowledge he imparted on such a wide variety of topics leave a gap. We were privileged to have been enlightened or amused by him for so long and will look back on the years he entertained us with gratitude. We wish him a good rest – and hope that he will occasionally submit the odd ‘pearl’…

With affection,

Lorna Harris

Co-President - Durban Progressive Jewish Congregation 

Dissatisfaction in the DUHC

The last two to three years has seen dissatisfaction grow in the Durban United Hebrew Congregation (DUHC). Change is never comfortable. My experience, however, is that it can be dealt with if a spectrum of opinions are sought and respected of  those affected and who are, in turn, kept well informed. In addition, if the changes, which I’ll touch on in a moment, are part of a broader plan, which it is done in a way that everyone feels care is taken of their interests.  

The momentous change in Durban has been the establishment of the Izinga Congregation, which as is the nature of these changes has protagonists and antagonists. This is normal. Frankly, today its existence does not particularly enter the so called “Durban Shabbat Dinner Conversations”. No, it is not Izinga that disturbs us mightily. It is the manner in which the Council of the DUHC manages the affairs of the Congregation. It is because of this 140 people attended the meeting called and held at the Durban Jewish Centre during May. There is a very comprehensive set of minutes, to which anyone is welcome. These minutes reflect a well conducted meeting.  Mr. John Moshal was in the Chair. People are still speaking about the respectful and embracing way he conducted proceedings. All were encouraged to express themselves and more than once if they so wished. There was one proviso – that the meeting was not called to denigrate the Rabbi, for the matter at hand was the governance of the DUHC and issues related to it. It was the overwhelming view of those present that each congregation should be treated as an independent unit with its own Rabbi and own Council.  In the case of the Berea Congregation, the attention of its Council should be fully focused on this Congregation and related infrastructure.

Certain of those present also expressed strong views regarding the manner in which the Council fulfilled its fiduciary responsibility in the management of the assets and financial resources of the DUHC and to this end compliance with its own Constitution, bye-laws and Trust Deed. Council, are you listening, are you hearing?

And this is why I am writing this letter to Hashalom.The minutes of the meeting have been circulated to the Council. To date there is no sign that they are listening to the members of their congregation. This was a loud clarion call to our leadership to engage with the membership, to lead the way forward.  Will a public letter help? I do not know. Those of us who care enough have been trying to engage for nearly three years – without success. 

Hashalom is an excellent forum for your thoughts. Please use it! We are undeterred. Our efforts will continue until we are listened to and heard. Since writing the above, the report on the AGM has appeared in Hashalom. What a whitewash! This touchy feely report is not a reflection of that meeting. The report has no substance and should be totally ignored. The next open meeting with Mr John Moshal in the Chair will take place at 17h30 at the DJC on 29 June.

Suzanne Edmunds


Letter to the Editor

Dear Antony

I have been writing  In Perspective for over  twenty years. After more than 200 consecutive columns I have examined all the topics I wish to explore. I have just turned 89 years old and have now run out of ideas.

I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing with the Durban community the different aspects of Jewish life and thank them all for the positive feedback over these many years. I look forward to reading Hashalom for many years to come.


The editor replies: 

Dear Dad

On behalf of the Editorial Board and readership of Hashalom I should like to thank you for the wonderful contribution you have made to Hashalom over these two decades. Your In Perspective column has delved into many aspects of Jewish civilization. You have examined the history, economics, politics, religion and traditions of our people and the role that Israel and Zionism has played in our consciousness.

The columns have always been balanced, thoughtful and have been greatly enjoyed by our readers. We wish you a long and peaceful retirement.



Letter to the Editor


I have often thought of writing about the failure of Hebrew teaching to lead to being able to speak the language fluently. In the past, at Carmel, I’ve attended all the teacher/parent meetings (in all, probably close to 30 girl-years! The answer always given was: ‘We teach them so well that, given 3 months in Israel, they’ll be speaking it better than a Sabra’. Not a satisfactory answer, I believe. The paragraph by Rabbi Zekry on page 7 Vol 19 No. 7 headed LANGUAGE: Develop your knowledge of Hebrew, gave me the reason now. 

 Why do I consider myself qualified to have such strong views about this matter, you might wonder. It is because, in my twenties, when overseas for 5 years, 3 1/2 of those were spent in Copenhagen (Denmark) where I had obtained a position as a Civil Engineer at a firm called KAMPAX. The work was for a foreign country and was to be in English - the project, Grain Silos. No problem, I thought, my English is fine and I was irreplaceable, as I was singularly experienced in both design and construction. But I knew one word only in Danish - tak - thank you.

Not so! I was shocked not to be invited to the first design meeting and my argument that ‘all the Engineers spoke English’ didn’t wash with a multilingual team member that had befriended me. His retort was: ‘They aren’t going to speak English because of you! You have to learn Danish’. Bigger shock - as after a few weeks I still found myself unable to hear the words which were growled almost unintelligibly in the throat. It was extremely worrying and job-threatening. 

Cut to 6 months later, after pages of vocabulary, lots of faux pas, but great encouragement from my colleagues and trying to copy the sounds, I began to see the light. When some of the work colleagues asked me to use Dansk instead of English, that was encouraging enough, but the point of this letter is to describe what a difference it makes when you can understand and converse in a foreign country in the language of that country. I attended a short course for foreigners at that stage and it boosted my ability and confidence. It matters not if you are recognised as not being a native of the country, but getting close to confusing them as to your origin - that is first prize. 

I was lucky to have had that experience a few months before leaving when I responded to an advert for accommodation and had to speak on the telephone within earshot of 10 or so co-workers. At the end of the call the lady asked me (all in Danish but I’ll translate it here): ‘Where do you come from? South Jutland?’ and I answered: ‘No, much further south, South Africa’. At that point, my suspicions that my calls had never been private were confirmed as a chorus of laughter emanated from the drawing office!

That’s why I say students should leave a Jewish school speaking fluent Hebrew. It makes all the difference.

Malcolm Smith

Letters to the Editor

Letters To The Editor

Rabbi Laurence Doron Perez, well known and much appreciated in the Durban community, has made taken up a post in Israel and we wish him all the best for a smooth klita in Eretz Israel. We received a request from Mr John Moshal that we publish the following letter from Rabbi Perez:


Dear Yochanan Hillel (John)

I wanted to take this opportunity before my family and I leave for Israel to express my deep appreciation for the privilege of being able to interact with the Durban Jewish community over the last 10 years. I have felt an enormous privilege to play a role with you, Cheryl and your team and interacting  through the prism of the Talmud Torah and the Union of Jewish Women and in other fora with the Durban Jewish community. I have made lasting relationships with people both young and less young from different walks of life throughout the community. I received the most wonderful letters of appreciation from many of the school children and I enormously appreciate this. A special thank you to your team headed by Cheryl who have organized these visits and facilitated these trips over the last ten years. I feel I owe you a very special personal thank you for having been the one who initiated, facilitated and oversaw the many tens of trips down to Durban during these years. Our personal interaction has greatly enriched me and I have learnt so much from you and greatly appreciate this opportunity that you have given me.  It has been an enormous privilege to pay a role in the Durban Jewish community and I hope that I have managed to make a modicum of difference to the lives of those that I have had the privilege to interest with. It has been one of the great joys of my stay in South Africa.

With having to say so many goodbyes I reflected on the meaning of a farewell from a Jewish point of view. I would like to share it with you as follows - The Hebrew word for goodbye is so telling as to the nature of a Jewish perspective on an encounter with another human being. It is quite remarkable that the word Shalom means both hello and goodbye. I think that the deeper meaning is that every ‘hello’ is both an encounter with another human being and also the beginning of a ‘goodbye’. This is because every meeting, no matter how long or short with someone, does eventually come to an end and we will have to say goodbye. At the same time, every goodbye is also a Shalom as we anticipate hopefully to meet that person again. On a deeper level, as we all know, Shalom also means peace and harmony and it is this sentiment that we use to reflect our hope that every human interaction leads to a greater sense of camaraderie and fellowship amongst us all. On an even deeper level, Shalom is one of Hashem’s many names because we all know that we are truly all joined on the deepest level by our unique Neshamot - our souls, that part of G-dliness within each and every one of us. Interestingly, the second part of the word Yerushalayim also comes from the word Shaleim or Shalom. It is therefore the city of Yerushalayim at the center of the Jewish and spiritual world which as our Sages say has the potential to make all Jews into friends. I truly hope that we are able to meet soon in Yerushalayim to maintain our kesher. So it is definitely not goodbye, it is Shalom and Lehitraot which also means in spoken Hebrew “until we meet again”

Indeed I look so forward to seeing you soon in Yerushalayim for a catchup. 

With appreciation

Rabbi Laurence Perez

Dear Editor,

I am attaching a copy of an old photograph of the Durban Sharona Nursery School taken in about 1948. The head teacher was Mr Sam Ernst and my wife, Evelyn Kahn Plen is on the right of the picture in the second row from the front. We are trying to recognise all the people but we wondered if you could get your readers to volunteer their guesses.

Colin and Evelyn Plen


We are having our 50th reunion and have been unable to contact the following girls:

Marion Beit; Evelyn Berman; Bernice Brewer; Myrna Rubenstein; Daphne Jacobs; Betty Danin; Susan Abelson; Beverley Frank, Ann Schaffer & Sherrill Ostroff.

If anyone knows of their whereabouts, please could you ask them to email either or for all the relevant details.

Thank you,


Letter to the Editor

Professor Shirley Tollman is greatly involved with Jewel House in her capacity as a Psychologist. She wrote to the Editor with the following request:

Two of the Jewel House residents formed an unusually close friendship - probably the only one they had ever had throughout their lives. Unfortunately one friend fell ill and died. Her ‘soul mate’ is still deeply mourning her loss. In helping her to cope I suggested that she wrote down for me the reasons why her friend was so special to her. Completely unaided she penned the following tribute about her friend, which touched me deeply and I thought it would be great to share such humanity with the community, having received her permission to do so. 

Kind regards,




Wouldn’t harm a fly

Sweet lady

Even when I got into a mood she stuck to me

Went to Buxton’s every Saturday to listen to music

She often asked for some of my clothes, but I didn’t mind

She gave me her raincoat

Gave me 2 dolls

Bought dress for her - navy blue and white - cost R 22

Gave her my watches, gold bangle

When I was in bed and she was in the rocking chair, she always brought my tablets to me, from the cupboard.

Did things together all the time.

(Her friend was moved to another home)

Left with raincoat and dolls

Went to visit her every Friday (12-1.15) and Sunday (10.30) - she always asked me where I am.

Just before she died, one Sunday, she was screaming and I got up and hugged her - she continued screaming, I hugged her again and she stopped.



Letter to the Editor

I have just received my copy of the April 2014 issue of Hashalom and, as is my custom, I turned immediately to “PAST TENSE”, just to see what my deathless prose looked like in print.

Imagine my surprise when I found that I was responsible for creating a character who, to my knowledge, never existed - Mavis Schaffer. I know that my handwriting is not of the copperplate variety, but in 1964 Morris Schaffer was so well-known in both the DUHC and at Circle Country Club that nobody could conceivably have thought of Mavis Schaffer as a co-convener of a Maccabi Sports Festival.

There are, in fact, two other misprints that cannot by any stretch of the imagination be attributed to my bad handwriting, but rather to defective proof-reading.

Firstly the word “Bowls” in the context of a Sports Festival was spelt “Bowles”. It boggles the mind that the word might, with no more effort, have been spelt “Bowels”. Secondly, in the 1964-type joke, which I admit was not very good and certainly not politically-correct, the whole point is lost when it is said that the very rude allegedly religious couple “DO” rather than “DON’T” get on well  together.

May I suggest that if a contributor to Hashalom submits his/her copy in manuscript, it should be transcribed and sent, say, by email to the contributor for approval, as he/she would then be responsible for the form in which it ultimately sees the light of day.

Kind regards,


Editor’s Reply

As always it is a pleasure to publish Pundit’s articles. They give a wonderful overview of Hashalom’s proud 90 year history. However, Pundit persists on submitting his articles in a scratchy hand written form. Not only does this make editing the article extremely time-consuming but it also leaves the text wide-open to misinterpretation. All other contributions to Hashalom are submitted by email.



Esmond Jacobson

We have recruited younger members who served on the Border or in the South African National Defence Force. We now have a total 23 members.

During a Meeting of Members it was confirmed that it is important for the Branch to continue. No one person was prepared to Chair the organisation resulting in key functions being allocated to individual members

On Friday 15th December 2013 we held our Remembrance Service at the Great Synagogue followed by an Oneg Shabat Dinner . The Memorial prayer and dedication to the Natal Fallen in various wars was presented by Stan Hart .

The Oneg Dinner was a huge success , attended by 31 Members wives/partners and guests . Esmond Jacobson thanked Rabbi Zekry for his great assistance in making the dinner possible. He also thanked our generous sponsors: Jonathan Beare , Maurice Sacher , and Sidney Lazarus .

The 90 year olds Wally Stiller, Ernest Aaron and Pearl Hall were especially welcomed .

Our Mission Statement was quoted : “The Hon Justice Henry Preiss described the League in these terms . ‘ It is no accident that we are called the South African Jewish Ex Service League. We are a League, a band of brothers who share a common experience .We are Ex-servicemen (and women) tempered in the crucible of war and mindful of the debt we owe our fallen comrades . We are Jews, descendants of an ancient and durable race. Finally , and not least , we are South Africans , who fulfilled our Duty to our Country.”

Esmond had an important message for our younger Members . “Some of you have felt out of things as you have not shared the experience of warfare. However you were not CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS. YOU WERE PREPARED TO FIGHT FOR YOUR COUNTRY AGAINST THE ENEMY .

The Function was enjoyed by all. The exclamation “I’m so glad I came “ was heard several times.


Letters to the Editor

John H Moshal writes.......

I cannot hold back from writing of the amazing and uplifting experience of our granddaughter’s Batmitzvah at the Marasha Shul in Arthur’s Road in Cape Town.

This is the shul with Rabbi Sam Thurgood in charge.

We were taken back to the days when going to pray was a really spiritual experience. On Shabbat morning there were over 450 in the congregation, as estimated by the caterer.

All participated making it a very ‘lebedik’ service.

Rabbi Sam had two zones, the quiet zone (inside) and the talking zone (outside). It really worked! His sermon was inspirational. He took great pains to prepare and talk to Rachel, her family and friends beforehand, resulting in a truly memorable ‘Drosha’. It was also the 17th anniversary of his own Barmitzvah.

There were so many known faces including Rebbetzin Harris and Sidney Lazarus who was the sweet shammas. With our own complete family including 11 grandchildren it was amazing! The Durbanites amongst us really, really realised our loss in Rabbi Sam moving to the Cape.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir,
I am aware, none better, that the extract from the November 1963 issue of Hashalom in this issue's "Past Tense"(PT) is inadequate. The reason is that I find what was happening in 1938/9 immensely more interesting than what was happening in 1963. Hence the available space limits 1963 information to the "Social and Personal".
The question is - do readers of "Past Tense" agree with me? For that matter, are there any readers of PT? Obtaining the answers to these questions is up to you.
With kind regards,
Yours sincerely,

Letter to the Editor

Rev. Brian Lurie writes ...

In response to the inquiry by Prof Arkin (Jewish Misconceptions – In Perspective August 2013) the concept of “work” in the context of Shabbat observance is defined by the Hebrew word “Melakha” which refers as the Professor has mentioned to “the creative that were undertaken – the construction of the sanctuary”  and to their derivatives.
Space does not allow me a more comprehensive explanation contained in the Red Friday night Siddur (from p.89) issued by the DUHC and available in the Shul at Beth Shalom and there are even more in-depth expositions, which can be sourced by internet.
Suffice to say there is not necessarily an overlap between Melakha and what is commonly referred to as work.  One example in particular, which the Professor himself has cited is that of carrying.  As for modern technological labour-saving devices, including many still to come, the standing rules appertaining to Melakha apply.
Reading and taking a walk are certainly not Sabbath prohibitions, nor of course, the playing of chess.  And on a Saturday afternoon, I regularly walk with his scheduled opponent halfway to the venue of the “tournament”.

Letter to the Editor

Joan Truscott writes ...

Dear Editor,
Every second Friday, Erev Shabbos, the passages of Beth Shalom ring out with laughter and the  patter of feet.  The quiet of our home suddenly erupts and sleepy residents stir at the sound of children's high pitched voices.  The children of the Umhlanaga Jewish Day school have arrived to bring bobbas and zaidas treats and wish us Shabbat Shalom. The children, who are a delight, arrive with their morahs or mommies, knock on our doors and present us each with a bag of goodies. It is a joy to have them visit us,especially as many of us have grand-children very far away.  Sometimes we are lucky enough to steal a little kiss. This mitzvah is good for the children too. It teaches them that the elderly are  still part of society and that we matter no how old we are are, we are still deserving of love and care
We are grateful and want everyone involved to know how much we appreciate and welcome our little visitors. They bring sunshine into our lives.

Letter to the Editor

Doria van Dellen writes from London ….  

Please thank everyone connected with the production of Hashalom - the quality of the articles is excellent and we enjoy reading it every month (and looking at the photos!)
We have been away from Durban for quite a while, but love the connection that Hashalom gives us to the Durban community.
Keep up the good work!