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Nechama Bereavement Services

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Nechama Beareavement Services

Losing a loved one is a profound experience. A little counselling can help a lot - socially, emotionally, spiritually. Our counsellors are professionally trained to help bereaved individuals and families in the Jewish community, with complete confidentiality. And they’re just a phone call away. We also have an open, ongoing support group that you can attend whenever you need (email for latest dates and times.

No matter how you feel, all your feelings are normal. They are part of your mind and body’s natural reaction to the pain of loss and grieving. Experience has shown that grieving can be a growth experience, when we learn to work through our mixed feelings by talking about them. But talking about our feelings is not easy. That is where our trained counsellors can help you express how you feel so that you can manage your grief. Judaism provides a very sensitive source of comfort at this time. The laws, the customs, the philosophies and the beliefs blend and harmonise to address the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of the mourner. Call us today or when you feel ready to do so, however long it takes.

For more information please call Linda at Chev Social Services on 011 532 9701 or email


Imagine a wife and mother who has endured an abusive husband for a decade. Her situation is intolerable and getting worse as the abuse inevitably escalates with the passage of time. But she is terrified to leave, knowing that the move would likely unleash an unprecedented level of rage and retaliation. Finally out of options she dredges up the courage to get out only to find the road ahead littered with problems as daunting as those she has lived with - safe houses, protection orders, legal and other expenses, maintenance agreements and child sharing.

This scenario is all too common and is why the Chev has expanded its Abuse Services to offer a VOLUNTEER COURT SUPPORT PROGRAMME. Our first group of volunteers has undergone almost 20 hours of training in the Domestic Violence Act; understanding abuse, safety plans and places of safety; learning about empathy, empowerment and appropriate responses and how to apply for protection orders and maintenance. They even paid a visit to the Magistrates Court where they were taken on a tour to familiarise themselves with the layout and procedures. That is where they are likely to spend a lot of time accompanying women who have approached the Chev for help in cases of abuse.

Our volunteers are now able to help with the completion of forms for protection orders and maintenance and to stay with applicants at court during extended waiting periods to provide company and reassurance. Besides not being alone, victims are often forced to sit alongside their abusive ex-partners for many hours in a court room which can be an intimidating experience. Having someone at their side offers relief and provides much-needed support.

An intake process is in place for both existing Chev clients and for new clients. Our social workers will consult with other experts regarding the exact nature of the help required. Mediation is a service already on offer at Chev Social Services but if abuse is a factor there may be a need for urgent relocation to our safe house and for legal assistance. Once immediate safety is assured our social workers will pair the client with a court support volunteer.

The need for this service becomes increasingly important for people trapped in unhealthy relationships. As always, the Chev responds to the call of the community. People in need of this assistance should contact Tova Goldstein on or 011 532 9616.

May our partnership continue to thrive!


Like a Google map, the closer you zoom in, the more detail you get about places you would not have known were there - places that are enriching, educational and inspiring. I attend the Sandringham Gardens shul regularly in the early mornings and am always struck by the warmth and culture of this micro-world within the larger complex, which is itself a micro-world within a much larger community, and city, and….ad infinitum.

One of our famous sages taught, “Who is wise? He who learns from everyone”. I have found that there is much to learn from those who attend this small minyan on the main Chev campus. The congregation is a mix of people from Sandringham Gardens, Golden Acres and the Lodge as well as a sprinkling of people from the community who may have yartzheit and need to say kaddish, or who have another reason to daven there. Characteristic of the respect that older people place on punctuality, prayers dependably begin promptly at 07H00 and our Rabbi Jonathan Fox ensures that services are conducted in a consistent and respectful manner.

But more than that, the revelation apparent in keeping company with older generations is how much they have to teach us, if we are willing to learn. It is an honour and privilege when they share snippets of their life experiences, invariably littered with a deep understanding of the human condition. It is even enlightening simply to observe the way they conduct themselves, without necessarily exchanging words. Some are frail and have difficulty navigating their way to shul with walkers and wheelchairs. Others are remarkably sprightly at advanced ages and I find myself wanting to know their secret. Whatever their situation there is a dignity, a sense of purpose and a determination to their attendance at shul – as though they understand the inherent spirituality and value of prayer on a deeper level than most of us. It is likely that they do, for they appreciate much about life that younger people don’t. Or don’t yet.

Watching them I am filled with admiration. These are generations who have lived, triumphed, and experienced loss. Each person is an entire world, each story unique and irreplaceable. To show up and be counted demonstrates a deep level of faith and belief that, on its own, provides a most valuable lesson. Their collective and individual courage seems equalled only by their wisdom. On every visit I am enriched.

The community is welcome to join us for davening.

May our partnership continue to thrive!


Sometimes it feels as if Social Media is taking over the world. And like so many modern innovations, it is both a blessing and a curse. While millions are fascinated by Facebook and the Twitter tweets of people in high places, my focus here is on the beautiful and beastly aspects of WhatsApp groups.

I belong to a number of them and am always astounded by how quickly they can galvanise people to action, raise the alert in emergency situations, inform members of the latest news and developments and gather information. Family groups share photos, arrange lift schemes and coordinate celebrations. Shul groups organise minyanim and share details of community events. Tehillim groups elicit prayers for people in need of them and on social and sports groups we post appropriate and relevant information. All of this is practical, positive and time-saving.

Provided, that is, that people stick to the purpose of the groups and refrain from posting irrelevant and inaccurate information – sometimes at unearthly hours!

In my working life at the Chev I am part of a number of WhatsApp groups too – many of them operational and designed to enhance efficiency and accelerate response times. A specific group advises me of every resident who passes away. Others deal with matters of management, meeting-schedules, maintenance issues, power outages, transport strikes and security alerts. Again all of these groups can expedite and improve our services and are very useful. These are the beautiful aspects of WhatsApp groups.

So what are the beastly ones? Sometimes in sensitive situations community group members – undoubtedly motivated by the best and most noble of intentions – can forget who may be on the group and post insensitive or hurtful statements, questions or banter. Sometimes misinformation is shared as fact and sometimes that can be deeply hurtful or even devastating.

It is my experience that two simple rules can protect us all from miss-steps and tactless behaviour:

  1. Never to add or share any information unless you are certain it is kind, and also necessary and also true because often information that is true can also be unkind and it may well be unnecessary to share it
  2. Always to be sensitive to the feelings of others on the group.


As we go about our daily family, work and community lives, and as technology creates new ways of communicating, our challenge is to take the best of what is on offer and handle it with extreme care. Let’s be at the forefront of how to use these tools efficiently, effectively and with sensitivity, not only for ourselves but for our children, our community and our contact lists!

May our partnership continue to thrive!



“Domestic abuse is always about power and control. It manifests in a number of ways - physical violence, emotional domination, financial manipulation or a combination of these. It is well documented that a woman is in the greatest danger when she attempts to leave an abusive relationship as her partner will feel threatened and go to extreme lengths to stop her. That is when she is most in need of support and protection.”

  Over the years as the issue of abuse has crept - or been forcibly swept - from under the carpet, stories similar to Marion’s have become all too common. In keeping with the Chev’s commitment to respond to community needs not only reactively, but proactively too, we are launching a new abuse volunteer support programme this year.




  • Fear of the abuser
  • Low self esteem
  • Lack of money
  • Lack of shelter
  • Abuser’s promises to change
  • Isolation
  • Lack of family or social support
  • Lack of access to legal counsel
  • Denial
  • Shame, embarrassment, guilt
  • Wanting to keep the family together
  • Protecting the children
  • Fear of not being believed


Some of the real and perceived obstacles to leaving an abusive relationship are listed alongside. In offering this support programme Chev Social Services has tried to address as many of these obstacles as possible in order to provide relief for women who are trapped. As always, we rely on our exceptional community to assist.

The programme is two-pronged, offering a court support system to victims of abuse who need help with legal and practical processes once they have made the tough decision to get divorced:

1. Attorneys have been recruited to assist and some have signed up to help with two cases a year. This will involve providing legal advice and court appearances to secure restraining orders, maintenance agreements, child-sharing and custody arrangements, etc.

2. Lay volunteers will go through methodical training to understand domestic abuse and basic processes around legal requirements, court procedures, protection orders, etc. They will assist these women with emotional support by accompanying them to court, standing in queues with them and offering general practical encouragement. Volunteers will not be asked to provide therapy and counselling which continues to be available, as always, by specially-trained and skilled social workers at Chev Social Services.

1. Domestic abuse is always about power and control. It manifests in a number of ways - physical violence, emotional domination, financial manipulation or a combination of these. It is well documented that a woman is in the greatest danger when she attempts to leave an abusive relationship as her partner will feel threatened and go to extreme lengths to stop her. That is when she is most in need of support and protection. As a community we can band together to help women trapped in this vicious cycle.


We are looking for volunteers and attorneys to offer their time and services. Please watch the media for details about the launch of this important abuse support programme:

  • During May/June work began on recruiting volunteers for training.
  • During June five training sessions will be held for volunteers.
  • On 14th June a breakfast will be held for lawyers at which Chief Rabbi Goldstein and Advocate Liza Segal will address the challenge of how to help women trapped in abusive relationships.
  • During August the programme will be launched to the public and people in need of help will be invited to approach us.

For more information and to offer your assistance please contact or call 011 532 9616

May our partnership continue to thrive


I have just returned to my desk after attending an annual event celebrating International Nurse’s Day. The highlight is always the moving ceremonial signing of the Nurse’s Oath, when each nurse reaffirms her (or his – there was one male nurse) commitment to this noble profession.

At the Chev we employ 120 qualified nurses across our various facilities (in addition to more than 100 Care Workers). This morning’s group comprised 50 nurses who entered the hall singing “Walking in the Light of God” as they made their way to the podium to light their candles and sign their pledges. Nurses

We all know that the nursing profession demands much more than a capacity for hard work. In my speech I pulled up Maslow’s well-known Hierarchy of Needs - a motivational theory in psychology showing a five tier model of human needs usually depicted by a triangle. It starts with our most basic human need for physical survival and safety, moving up to our need for love and belonging, self-esteem and finally self-actualisation. Though the work of providing physical care to patients and residents is taxing, at the Chev we encourage our nursing staff to pay attention to the higher level needs as well. This is how they can turn a job into a calling and stretch themselves to meet the highest levels of dedication, devotion and self-sacrifice.

Nursing Manager Prudence inspired the team by talking about the qualities that must make up the letters of the word NURSE – Nurturing, Unconditional, Responsibility, Selflessness and Empathy. “Real integrity” she said “is doing the right thing, even when nobody will know about it”.

This attention to both fundamental and higher human needs is taught throughout the Chev Group to staff in every sector to raise the level of service we provide. But nursing does stand out in a league of its own. As the Manager of Sandringham Gardens said, “It’s not everyone who has the privilege of welcoming new life into the world and holding someone’s hand as they cross over from this world into the next in their old age”. That truly is thought- provoking, and inspiring.

May our partnership continue to thrive


“The way to happiness is to keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others…” Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking

Betty & Maureen Is happiness a state of mind? Are positive people healthier and happier because they have a positive outlook, or is their positive outlook a result of being healthy and happy? When it comes to understanding human happiness there are many more questions than answers. But recently I met two ladies who shone a warm glow on the subject for me.

I make regular visits to our various facilities. One of my favourites is getting to the Sandringham Gardens shul by 07H00 for morning davening and then joining the residents in the dining room for breakfast. Last week I had the privilege of enjoying the company of Betty Rubin and Maureen Shear who have been good friends for many years. In addition to the fact that both their late husbands were named Max and neither of them is Jo'burg-born, Betty and Maureen have a lot in common, especially their wonderfully positive attitudes.

Betty has been a resident at Sandringham Gardens for 19 years. She grew up on the South Coast, married in 1950 had four children. All of them have married and emigrated, two to Canada, one to Australia and one to New Zealand. “I have eleven great-grandchildren with a 12th on the way,” she says with pride. They are a very close family and she used to visit often, but getting travel insurance at her age has become problematic so her children visit her instead. Before moving into Sandringham Gardens Betty was a Glenhazel housewife. When her husband started suffering from dementia she knew he would eventually need care, so in 1998 she and Max moved in.

Old age homeHe could speak at least four African languages and loved talking to the staff. Betty starting the Nosh Bar with Ros Rabinowitz and helped run it for over a decade. Max received excellent care and passed away 11 years ago. At 88 Betty is still brimming with life. Every morning at 05H30 she goes for a 4 km walk with a friend from Golden Acres. She plays scrabble, kaluki, loves to crochet and is passionate about music. In fact, Betty introduced the Sandringham Gardens residents to Andre Rieu and now they watch his concerts together on TV.

"Sandringham Gardens was on appro when I first came here," explained Maureen, who has been a resident for 16 years. A born and bred Free-Stater she grew up in Arlington in Kroonstad where hers was the only Jewish family. Her Russian father ensured they always observed Shabbos and Kashrut but there was no shul. An only child, Maureen married her Max in 1965 but never had children of her own. Max suffered two strokes in 2000 and the second left him severely paralyzed. Her friends insisted that she move to Sandringham Gardens to get him the care he needed, but she desperately didn’t want to leave her beautiful home and give up her life. When she finally did she stayed for only six weeks. Miserable, she went home determined she could manage. After three grueling months she returned to Sandringham Gardens. Max had lost the ability to speak, feed himself or move. “When I returned I was welcomed with open arms and this time, I was so relieved to be here!” Betty, who had befriended her during her first stay, was there for her, as was Ros Rabinowitz, Dr Schneiderman and Esme van der Walt. Max was well looked after and lived for almost 7 years before passing away in 2007.

Both of these remarkable ladies agree that times change and life doesn't stand still. One should never look back. They also agree it’s vital to keep busy. They’re avid readers and make good use of our library. Betty visits the hairdresser, has manicures and goes shopping every week with the other residents. Maureen has boundless energy and helps wherever she can. She delivers the mail on campus every day, visits sick people, serves meals and is on the Welcoming Committee. They get on well with the staff and know them by name. The Jewish atmosphere Buildingat Sandringham Gardens and being amongst their own, is deeply valued. Their core circle of good friends don’t like to “skinner”, preferring to discuss books and talk about life.

"My children know I'm safe, secure and happy" says Betty. "I'm well taken care of here and they don't have to worry about me."

As for me, I look forward to more delicious breakfasts and meeting more wonderful people at Sandringham Gardens!

May our partnership continue to thrive     


At the end of the very busy Purim day a message went out to the community saying: 3,608 generous donors; 2,967 Jews in need reached. 

I watched it all unfolding as I visited collection points in shopping areas and saw from afar our staff distributing cash and food parcels to recipients of welfare support. The collecting and distributing happened simultaneously throughout the day to ensure that the Purim Mitzvah of Matanot l’Evyonim – gifts to the poor, was fulfilled strictly in accordance with the letter of Jewish Law.

There are few occasions during the year that are as heart-warming to witness as Purim. I always find myself deeply moved by our exceptional community that responds, with warmth and open-handedness, to the call of the chag.

It’s not only that the message of charity on Purim is so closely aligned with the Chev’s work of looking after widows, orphans and the poor and helpless amongst us. It’s also that everywhere you look you see families in wonderful costumes, little ones in tow, rushing off to hear the megillah, distribute shalach manot, give tzedokah or attend a party. Absorbing all this positive energy and activity one might be forgiven for imagining we were in the heart of Jerusalem. But this is Jo’burg, and even here Jews embrace a generosity of spirit and a love of tradition and halacha that must surely reverberate in Heaven.

People visited our residents at Sandringham Gardens, Our Parents Home and Selwyn Segal to distribute ready-to-eat goodies and our dining-rooms provided festive Purim meals. Volunteers throughout the community came to assist. Our amazing staff put in extra-long hours manning the collection points, call centres and monitoring the website.

It was a day packed to capacity with kindness and good deeds – all executed with a sense of joy and purpose. It was magical – just like the story of Purim.

For those dependent on the Chev, Purim will forever be a day of miracles. A day when they are remembered with dignity and respect; when their privacy is protected and their needs met by a gracious and loving community

May our partnership continue to thrive     


As we approach the festival of Purim this week we marvel anew at the story of Queen Esther and Mordechai and the miraculous manner in which Hashem’s behind-the-scenes intervention brings salvation to the Jewish people. He was there all along, but hidden, quiet, unseen. As He so often is.

This theme of restraint and modesty is a powerful lesson in Jewish teachings. We are urged to perform good deeds, not for publicity, fame or reward, but for the inherent value of the deed itself and because Hashem commands it.

The Chevrah Kadisha held its annual Zayin Adar function to honour all the staff and volunteers who perform the essential work of Jewish burial. This mitzvah is known as “chesed shel emet – kindness of truth”, because it is a final act of respect and humanity on the part of the living that the deceased can never repay. In this material world we too often give only in order to receive. But the work performed at our cemetery is done unpretentiously, discretely and respectfully. No-one talks about what they do in the Tahara room. There is no fanfare, no accolades, no rewards - except for those bestowed by Heaven, which we have no way of measuring or even understanding.

On this occasion a special award was presented to Rabbi Moshe Kurtstag, Rosh Beth Din, who has served our community for 50 years. A man of infinite humility, his immediate response was, “I don’t deserve this”. That kind of modesty is characteristic of a true Jewish leader who shuns the limelight and whose motives are pure.

It occurs to me that so much of the Chev’s work is done behind the scenes - protecting the privacy of people we assist financially, people we counsel emotionally, people we prepare for burial, children we protect from harm and abuse. And that is as it should be. For the beauty and true value of good deeds is in their dignity, respect and discretion. That’s how we emulate G-d.

If it were not for the fact that we need the support of the community to continue our essential work, we might never speak of what we do, or publicise our achievements. But that divide between idealism and reality need not detract from the purity of purpose in our work and the fact that the Chev gives, not to get, but because there are those amongst us who need help.

A freilichen Purim to all!

May our partnership continue to thrive     


Last week I attended the 11th annual Jewish Entrepreneurs Insight sponsored and hosted every year by Investec Private Securities at their Sandton offices.

The event, a Helping Hands fundraising initiative, attracts over 600 young people each time and that's only because the venue can't hold more. The drawcard is that it features speakers who are world renowned local and global business leaders and entrepreneurs who teach the future leaders of our community by sharing the stories of their lives and their journeys to success. This year Howard Behar, the retired President of Starbucks International, told the audience about his business career and the personal beliefs that motivated his achievements. He was inspirational.

But what also amazed and delighted me was the audience, because I hardly knew any of them! When I first started attending JEI 8 years ago I personally knew the vast majority of those present and enjoyed socialising with them. This year, when 90% of the attendees were new faces, I enjoyed them even more because it was clear to me that far from being staid, there is an ever-new resource of interested young adults keen to associate themselves with the Chev’s brand as supporters and ambassadors. Standing in that busy room and taking in the crowd was an aha moment.

This realisation, though obvious in hindsight, became increasingly heartwarming as I mentally unpacked its far-reaching implications. No matter how brilliant human ingenuity, time is the one creation we have never been able to harness or control. In every other area of life we advance – sports records are broken, communication channels are universal, advances in medicine are curing diseases once devastating and industrially, technologically, politically and socially we grow and improve. We can even control the weather - indoors at least. But while we cannot tame time, we can appreciate the infinite blessing in that limitation. No matter how wealthy, famous or fit, people grow older and the youth grow up, their tastes and interests maturing, their opinions, beliefs, perceptions and aspirations different from those of their parents and grandparents.

This is enlightening and fills me with hope and optimism. Comparisons have been studied between Baby Boomers, Generation X and our beloved Millennials. Exposed to different realities growing up, each group thinks and behaves differently. What that means is that the people who populate our world will always have a fresh, new and challenging perspective. And that’s exciting.

Even if it means I won't recognise many of the young faces at JEI, I have the comfort of knowing that the Chev is relevant to them and that some values are eternal.

May our partnership continue to thrive     



It was an historic moment for the Chev last week when the doors to the beautiful new Arcadia campus were opened to donors who were given the honour of affixing mezuzahs to the doorposts. Community visitors were offered guided tours around the Residence and Day Care Centre and reactions could not have been more rewarding - people were quite literally moved to tears.

The project has taken three years from conception to completion. The actual construction work - from the time the first shovel of dirt was moved to the moment the beds were made up and the books unpacked onto shelves - took just 12 months.

I remember asking Arcadia GM, Adina Menhard, three years ago to provide us with an ambitious wish list for Arcadia.  She did and at the time thought her list was the stuff of dreams.  Now she knows that dreams can come true!

This magnificent project has been a collective effort on the part of professionals, donors and staff. While there are so many things about it that are wonderful, I am most delighted about the consultative and collaborative effort between the modern architectural design and the needs of the children occupying the space.

The focus in the Residence is on normalising the children’s environment and making it family-centred. For example, the dining room and kitchen are the heart of the home and meals are eaten together. Each child has his or her own bedroom and only two share a bathroom.  The house is designed to provide a perfect balance between their need for privacy and for company. Care-workers are housed close to the younger children and, as a result of Arcadia being caught unprepared to accommodate new-borns in the past, the nursery is fully equipped. All common areas in both the Residence and Day Care buildings are modular, making them versatile and multi-purpose. While quite separate from the Residence, there is access to the swimming pool, playground and outdoor equipment from the Day Care area.   

I want to express gratitude to everyone involved and to pay tribute to my hardworking colleagues on Exco and to the Arcadia, Operations, Revenue and Marketing teams for their dedication to this heart-warming project.

The children will move in soon, after which access to the residential building will be restricted in order to protect their privacy. We, like everyone in the community, are thankful, excited and delighted about this wonderful milestone in the development of Arcadia.

May our partnership continue to thrive     




While Sandringham Gardens has been an integral part of the Johannesburg Jewish landscape for over 100 years, it wasn’t in the Chev’s hands until 2000, so for us it’s technically only 16 years old.  In that time we have worked tirelessly to implement changes - structural and operational - that will impact positively on service delivery and the facility’s standing in the community. As anyone who is familiar with it knows, this is a huge and timeworn facility requiring extensive and expensive maintenance and financed primarily by donor funds. 

But the good news is that enormous strides have already been made and much more positive change is underway.   Here are just some examples of major accomplishments you probably don’t know about:


Firstly, Sandringham Gardens has completed a fully renovated and refurbished Frail Care ward (pictured above) which will serve as the prototype and blueprint for upgrades to the other eleven medical wings.  Because of the scope of this project, renovations will be tackled one wing at a time, until the entire facility is complete.  Project-specific donor funds were used to reinvent these six-rooms and twenty-two beds and we are now ready to move residents into this beautiful ward.  Work has already begun on the next wing.

Four luxury private suites were renovated alongside Ward 3D which are available for use by frail, assisted, respite or independent living residents. Each suite includes a bedroom, bathroom, lounge and kitchenette.

An exciting project will commence in January 2017 when work begins on refurbishing and upgrading Sandringham Garden’s d ining room, Nosh Bar and garden area – see architects drawing.   


Renovating the facility’s Lifestyle Centre has also been elevated to priority status. While the Centre currently offers a variety of stimulating activities it is envisioned that a repurposed, multi-functional area will create an inviting ambiance for lectures, functions and creative and therapeutic pursuits. The upgrade will enable us to expand our lifestyle activities and open the Centre up to residents at Golden Acres, Our Parents Home and even to community members.


A vital service is provided by our Group Hospital Liaison Officer, employed in 2008 as an intermediary between patients, their doctors, and the Chev’s healthcare services when residents are transferred off-site to hospitals for surgeries or treatments beyond the scope of the Sandringham Garden’s Medical Centre.  While away from their homes patients may feel anxious and alienated with no-one to talk to and no one to talk for them.   An experienced ICU-trained Nursing Sister she visits our residents daily to make their stay in hospital as comfortable and non-threatening as possible.

Safety First is a fundamental policy.  To this end 88 CCTV cameras were installed in 2013 throughout Sandringham Gardens (over 300 across all Chev facilities) to monitor staff and protect our residents. Generators were upgraded to cover all critical areas; a Nurses Call system was fitted for every resident and a sophisticated fire detection structure installed.  

An essential component in a facility of this nature is naturally health care.  Sandringham Gardens provides professional coordinated medical care to residents in all allied Chev facilities and respite care to community members who need support when recovering from surgery or illness. Physiotherapy, radiography, dentistry, speech and hearing, an Outpatients department as well as a fully equipped pharmacy, are all on hand at the Medical Centre.  There are 4 full time General Practitioners, 6 qualified pharmacists and a large, well-trained nursing staff.  Access to visiting specialists is arranged. 

Staff training and upgrading of skills is a prime initiative at Sandringham Gardens and our newly-appointed Nursing Manager has a wealth of experience in geriatric health care and managing and training staff.


The Sandringham Gardens shul is beautifully maintained and very active with services held three times daily, on Shabbat and every Yomtov. Kashrut, shiurim and the celebration of every festival in spiritual and culinary ways is a trademark of this facility which embraces Jewish and traditional values.

In conclusion allow me to explain that as with all Chev services, those who can pay (for accommodation, health care, funerals, etc.) are expected to do so.  But Sandringham Gardens never turns away an elderly Jewish person in need of a place to live.  This constantly evolving facility offers so much in the way of rich Jewish life, social interaction and therapeutic support.  And it keeps getting better.

Please feel free to address all Queries Complaints and Compliments to



I am not a social media follower.  Sometimes though, in the line of duty, I find it necessary to take a look at pages and posts.  As a result of what I have seen - and spurred on by the spirituality of Elul and Tishrei during which overcoming lashon hara is a priority on the list of teshuva requirements - I decided to undertake some research into the pros and cons of social media and where we, as Jews, stand.   



Talking to a young adult working in the field, she told me, “ I feel that social media is the downfall of our generation.  People are brave behind computers but the whole social media environment breeds and encourages judgment, sensationalism, revenge and the spreading of misinformation and uninformed opinions”.  

Clearly there are people who feel they are immune to the consequences of slander.  But the recent sentencing of Penny Sparrow for racist comments on Facebook has shown us that accountability and responsibility for what we say - even on social media - is imperative.  The cost of expressing her opinions has been a conviction and the choice between a R5,000 fine or 12 months in prison.   Furthermore she was ordered to make a public apology for her remarks on the very same social media platform she used to vent her rage against black South Africans.


Text Box: They need to be made aware that everything they post – each picture, comment and shared experience – combines to make up their cyber-identity. There’s no escaping anything they have revealed or explored. It’s carved in code for eternity and one day a potential employer, or shidduch, might choose to investigate.



Many have objected to the leniency of her sentence but even as it stands it should be enough to caution people about the dangers of hate speech and making defamatory statements online.  I suspect that as time goes by we will see more prosecutions for irresponsible postings.     

From a Jewish perspective the culture of gossiping (malicious and otherwise), time wasting and exhibitionism are problems.  And from every perspective our children’s safety is paramount.  Social media knows no boundaries and youngsters can easily become vulnerable.  They need to be made aware that everything they post – each picture, comment and shared experience – combines to make up their cyber-identity.  There’s no escaping anything they have revealed or explored.  It’s carved in code for eternity and one day a potential employer, or shidduch, might choose to investigate.  

It is the gift of language that defines human beings, distinguishes us from all other creations and makes us unique.  The Chofetz Chaim, in Sefer Shemirat HaLashon, wrote that it makes no difference if words of lashon hara are spoken or written, they are equally forbidden.    Torah teaches us about the immense power of words which can build or destroy, heal or hurt, encourage or devastate.

We live in a miraculous age of communication and to be fair, social media is essentially neither good nor bad.  It all depends on how we use it.  A family WhatsApp group can share photos, news and information so that even when people are far apart they are in touch with what their siblings, parents, children and grandchildren are up to.  In our aged facilities this is a source of great joy.  Social media can be used to share inspirational stories that enlighten and encourage.  It is a powerful marketing tool too.

I have heard that before we share anything we should always ask ourselves: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?  If we can’t be certain, we should move on.  Other safety measures involve protecting our privacy, ignoring exhibitionist postings, avoiding lashon hara and being careful not to overshare. It’s also important to remember to disconnect in order to connect, in real time, with our families and friends.

From the Chev’s perspective, we use social media for fundraising and public relations.  We have a Facebook page and a website, but when it comes to personal issues of care we would prefer one on one communication.  The community is invited to share concerns, questions, compliments and complaints with us on   Talk to us anytime and we promise to respond.

Here’s something I can confidently share with you because it is true, kind and necessary:   my very best wishes to each of you and your families for a shana tova u’metuka.  May you be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year.


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