Message From the President 2

Dear fellow MHC congregants

On behalf of the MHC Management Team I sincerely hope that you are all healthy and are managing to navigate your way through lockdown. While the current global socio-economic situation is indeed very difficult and there are conflicting theories being proposed by subject matter specialists as to whether it would be best to strengthen or relax the lockdown regulations, we are at least fortunate to be living in the technological era which allows us to be physically isolated while still keeping in daily contact with friends and family all across the planet. I think how much worse the situation would be if we were unable to email, WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, Zoom or Skype, and am grateful that in the midst of an international health crisis we are able to reach out to one another with such ease.

The Management Team would like to acknowledge Rabbi Bernstein who has not only encouraged the MHC Congregation to keep learning Torah during this time, but has empowered us to do so by providing a daily Mishna for us in accessible shiurim on his informative WhatsApp group. In addition to this our Rabbi has been holding Shacharit and Mincha services on Zoom which is a great opportunity for those congregants who prefer to daven in cyberspace company, to do so even if it is not in an halachic minyan. 

For those who prefer the Chief Rabbi’s suggestion to use this time to enhance the depth of one’s personal prayers, our Rabbi remains a phone call (or Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom etcetera) away should you have any questions with regard to your davening.

Since the lockdown has started Rabbi Bernstein has arranged and attended funerals and together with Rebbitzen Gina has delivered food to seniors and congregants in need, as well as assisting individual congregants as matters have arisen.

In addition, we would like to thank Janine and Melanie who, together with the Rabbi and Rebbitzen, have set a plan in place to actively maintain personal contact with individual members of our congregation.

Our thanks also goes out to those members of the congregation who have kindly agreed to look after our Sifrei Torah to ensure that they remain safe in a time where schools and places of worship have become easy targets for vandals.

We recently arranged for residents of Highlands House to say kaddish on behalf of MHC members who requested It.  However due to COVID-19 Shul services at Highlands House have been suspended for the time being. We will advise our congregants as soon as they are once again able to perform this mitzvah on our behalf.

We are happy to report that unrelated to the coronavirus outbreak and thanks to the foresight and generosity of one of our team members, the MHC office staff were equipped with laptops prior to the lockdown and have therefore been able to continue their work remotely.

We would like to thank those congregants who have in recent weeks approached the Committee with suggestions pertaining to the lockdown situation, some of which have already been implemented and a further one which has just been received will hopefully be implemented in the near future. We reiterate our invitation to anyone who has a constructive idea that they would like to implement, to contact the Committee. It is always disappointing to look back in hindsight at a missed opportunity and lament the fact that one had the idea, but did nothing about it. This year has already seen congregants propose, plan and implement new ideas, and this is something that the Committee will continue to support and encourage.

The framework for the MHC web page has been launched and we look forward to the depth of content growing substantially in the near future. We would like to thank Gavi Dorfman who, after previous development plans did not come to fruition, volunteered his time free of charge in February this year and using open-source software has created a web page from scratch. Gavi has furthermore volunteered to maintain the web page on an ongoing basis, at no cost. The online donation and payment facility which has been implemented on the website, will further help MHC step into the new digital world that has become so much the norm in these past weeks. Once again, we ask for anyone with ideas as to how we can use technology to further enhance congregational interaction while in lockdown, to please contact us.

We would like to acknowledge the members of our Congregation who despite the risks involved have been volunteering their time during lockdown to help the Cape Town Jewish Community in various ways including assisting with the delivery of food to those in need and participating as dispatchers and first responders for medical and security emergencies. The CSO has remained fully functional so please make a note of their 24-hour emergency number 086 18 911 18.

Most of us have concerns and questions about the state of the world today. We are taught that the Torah was the blueprint for the creation of the world and that answers to the questions of every generation are contained within it. We, at MHC, are very fortunate to have a caring Rabbi with a deep knowledge of Torah who is only a phone call away to help us find answers.

May the congregants of the MHC individually and collectively merit Hashem’s blessings to see us all safely through this pandemic and may it soon be safe to once again join one another in prayer and friendship at our beloved MHC.

Warm regards to all

Bruce Conné

Message From the President

Dear MHC fellow congregants


I took my family for a drive to see the last sunset before we entered a national lock-down.

What a surreal feeling…

It feels like we are living through a terrible movie that someone in Hollywood dreamed up after a particularly bad party.

Daily life, as we know it, in South Africa has just changed dramatically and the freedom of movement, which we have always seen as a right, has just become a lost privilege.

On our drive back from the beachfront I saw street people begging for what could be their last income for some time and I realised that many of us in the Milnerton Hebrew Congregation have many reasons to still feel blessed, including the following few things:

  • We have homes with electricity and sanitation.
  • We do not have to travel far to reach local supermarkets for essential goods.
  • We are part of a broader Cape Town Jewish community who have structures such as JCS to assist those in need.
  • We have a learned and caring Rabbi who has proactively set plans in place to help provide some basics for those who do not have enough.
  • We live in an era of technology which can keep us connected to a great degree even while we are confined to our homes. Not only can we keep in contact with one another, but our Rabbi has instituted a WhatsApp group for communication and a learning programme aimed at all congregants no matter our level of Torah knowledge.
  • CSO Medical and CSO Security will keep serving us during this time.
  • Our Cape Town community has great functional care infrastructures for the challenged and elderly.
  • Our MHC office staff have laptops which has thankfully enabled us to function even through this lock-down.
  • I was able to join Rabbi Bernstein online to hear him say Hallel on the first day of Nissan which was a welcome opportunity even if it was not in a minyan.

All congregants are encouraged to stay in contact with the office and the Rabbi throughout this challenging period and I hope that everyone has something of their own to add to the list above of things to be grateful for.

I would like to be able to learn positive life lessons from this unprecedented part of human history and of course I hope BH to avoid infection but who knows what the future holds.

Let’s enjoy each day together in peace, brought together in our common humanity by a virus.

Wishing you good health and a Shabbat Shalom

Bruce Conné