Held in Johannesburg, South Africa this past Shabbos - Parshas Nitzovim/Vayelech The Chassidim Shul reunion, brought congregants together from the very origins of Chabad Lubavitch in South Africa some 35 years ago.
Over 80 people attended the Shabbaton which was held at The Shul of Hyde Park – Rabbi Mendel and Mashi Lipskar’s beautiful new shul in Summer place – Summe rplace – A lavish estate, owned by the well known philanthropic Krok Family is an exclusive five star function and conferencing venue, situated in the upper market Hyde Park.
The Shabbaton coincided with the first time that services were held in the modern - newly constructed shul building.
The Davening, eating and farbrenging together evoked deep emotion, feelings of nostalgia and gratitude for the privilege of being a founding member of Chabad Lubavitch in South Africa.
One after another people stood up and shared their feelings, emotions ran high and a huge reservoir of memories was unpacked and shared. Almost every speech began with the words, “That special little Chassidim shul in Yeoville….”
That shul under the then new shluchim of the Rebbe was, in truth, the start of so many meaningful life changes for so many young families at the time – all of whom are today bobbas and zeidas. In retrospect “that little shul in Yeoville” has proven to be a powerful engine that changed the face of Jewish South Africa forever. It brought Yiddishkeit, Lubavitch and the Rebbe into the hearts of literally thousands of Jews through the establishment of more than a dozen Chabad shuls in Johannesburg, Natal and the Cape.
Almost every Rabbi who is today a congregational leader at one of those Chabad shuls, was once a young man or a bochur at the Chassidim Shul. That’s where most served their apprenticeship.
It all began in 1972 when Mendel and Mashi Lipskar arrived in South Africa as the first shluchim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to Southern Africa. Taking up the post the Chassidim Shul on Harrow Road was theirs and it was not long before their particularly unique brand of passion, intelligence, energy and Ahavas Yisroel attracted Jewish students and many young couples thirsty for a taste of truth.
“We all grew up at the Chassidim Shul” said one Chosid at the reunion. “We were students of the Lipskars and the lessons we learned have lasted a lifetime and shaped the course of our lives and of the lives of our children”.
For the Lipskars, this reunion was a validation of their first years in the country. With all the love, appreciation and goodwill of their Chassidim Shul congregation, they can confidently and happily proceed to achieve the same brand of astounding success in the next phase of their South African journey.