Shavuot 2020 @ Bet David

Together with the learners of our Cheder, we will open the Shavuot Festival with a joyful Service Thursday evening at 18h30. Please join in and support our cheder learners.

Prof. Steven Friedman opens our night of learning with a Shiur about the intention of the Torah: “What the Torah Was Really Meant to Do”. The Shiur will follow the service at 19h30.

At 20h30 we will join the
national night of learning (Tikkun Leil Shavuot) of the SAUPJ (programme see below).

Please note that we use two Zoom sessions on Shavuot evening, the first is for the service and the shiur with Prof. Friedman ( and the second for the SAUPJ learning night ( We will also stream all sessions and the service on Facebook and YouTube.

Thursday  28 May
* Erev Shavuot Service (18h30)
and Shiur with Prof Friedman (19h30)

ZOOM (M 857 1878 1073 P 478751) 
to follow on Facebook here:

* SAUPJ Tikkun Leil Shavuot—proudly progressive (20h30)

When WhoWhat
20:40SAUPJ Young AdultsOpening Ma’amad
20:45Brett Kopin, Rabbinic student, Ziegler School, Los Angeles.“Tattooed Torah Movie”: the story of an Animated movie made recently, following a legendary book by Marvell Ginsburg, which is a powerful resource for Holocaust education for children.
Rabbi Emma Gottlieb, Temple Israel, CPT.Rabbi Julia Margolis, Beit Luria, JHB.Andrea Kuti, Rabbinic Student, Aleph.
“Kol BaTorah – Isha” – The feminist voice of Torah:Following the prominent Feminist Jewish thinker Judith Plaskow who defines the Feminist revolution in Judaism as Standing again at Sinai, we will hear from panelist their views, in this festival of receiving the Torah, how do they view its feminine aspects and how they bring it about in their professional life.  
22:30Panel: Rabbi Greg Alexander, Temple Israel, CPT.Rabbi Adrian M. Schell, Bet David, JHB, Sofia Zway, Rabbinic student H.U.C, Los Angeles.“Days are coming” – Gaze into the near future for Jewish communities. The panelist will reflect on the transformation we’ve been experiencing, trying to extract lessons we can apply and insights for our conduct. 
23:30 Sofia Zway, Rabbinic Student, H.U.C. Los Angeles.The Book of Ruth – How it is the simple acts of Human grace which make the most difference. Sofi Zwai is a South African, graduate of our movement, studying toward a Rabbinic ordination at the HUC.
23:50Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked, Beit Emanuel, JHB.Concluding Ma’amad

to follow on Facebook here:

Friday 29 May
* Shavuot Morning Service and Yizkor (09h30)

For YouTube click here:
and To follow on Facebook here:

For how to use Zoom and our Siddur online, please visit our website:

Shabbat Hagadol & Pesach 2020

Dear congregants and friends,
Download your AdKan

The first of the three weeks of the national lockdown has nearly finished, and we hope this finds you all well and healthy.

We understand that the circumstances have imposed challenges and hardships on many of you and observing the news nationally and internationally, we believe that we are only at the beginning of a longer journey until we will reach the end of this pandemic. Rabbi Schell has uploaded a series of daily video messages on our YouTube channel, trying to answer some of the questions you might ask yourself in light of this crisis:

Clayton Donnelly, one of our congregants, who lives in Israel, hosts a webinar on coping with the crisis by regaining one’s strength this coming Sunday (5 April at 11h00). Please see the flyer attached hereto for details.

Pesach is only one week away. Together with our sister congregations in South Africa, we have prepared for you several documents and handouts to prepare and celebrate a meaningful Pesach at home. Please see our website for the service schedule and materials – we will keep the page updated. Please find Rabbi Schell’s guide for Pesach 2020 here and a letter by the SAAPR-Rabbis to all congregants with additional thoughts and ideas for your Pesach here.

The SAAPR (SA Association of Progressive Rabbis) finished the second draft of the new progressive Pesach Haggadah for South Africa. We invite you to open it virtually on your computers and use it for your sederim: . For our Bet David Pesach seder, we will use a shortened version of the Haggadah, Download from here.

Diane, our cheder teacher, has prepared a Chocolate Pesach Seder Haggadah (please send an email to get your copy). If you like to join with your children our ZOOM children’s seder on Sunday, 12 April @ 11h00, please register with Diane (

Last, but not least, we invite all of you to join us again for our Shabbat services. All our services are being streamed on Youtube and on Facebook. For YouTube click here: and to follow on Facebook here:

Friday 03 April
* Kabbalat Shabbat Service (18h00)

Saturday 04 April
* Shabbat morning service (09h30)

 Sunday 05 April
Strengths Based Discussion
Talk with Clayton Donnelly (11h00)
Zoom Chat:

Wednesday 08 April
 Erev Pesach Festival Service (18h00)
followed by our Pesach Seder (18h30)
streamed via our Bet David Facebook page
Download our Pesach Haggadah from here

Thursday 09 April
Festival Morning Service streamed (09h30)

Friday 10 April
* Kabbalat Shabbat Service (18h00)

Saturday 11 April
* Shabbat morning service (09h30)

Sunday 12 April 2020
Children’s Pesach Seder via ZOOM (11h00)
Please register with Diane MC 

All Pesach services will be streamed via Facebook only.

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach

Rabbi Adrian Schell, Bet David Management and Staff

Corona Virus letter from the Rabbi & ManCom

Dear Bet David Families,

We are writing to you at a time when health is a serious concern, not only in faraway countries, but also now here in South Africa. We are reading and following the same guidelines that you are and will follow them as precautions and best practices for staying healthy.

At Bet David, the bathroom and washing facilities are cleaned regularly and staff members handling food have been reminded to follow essential rules of hygiene. Breaking with our minhag, we will cut the challot before doing HaMotzi and hand out challah in a basket or bowl instead of passing the challot around. We thank you in advance for understanding if we make some temporary changes, also in the ways that we are used to interacting with one another: elbow bumps instead of handshakes, hands on own hearts instead of connecting up for blessings, etc.

In addition, we are writing to say that your synagogue and your rabbi are here for you.

Our prayers will continue to be directed to those around the world who are experiencing illness, as well as those who are caring for them. We will hold those who are anxious in our hearts, as well as the many worldwide who have been isolated from others in quarantine for extended periods of time. And our hearts go out to those who are grieving the loss of loved ones.

Talk with us. Let us know how we, your Community, can help. Should you be affected by the virus, or any other illness, let us know. The rabbi or others of the community might not be allowed to visit you, but we are happy to call you and/or have a little chat via skype.

Our main concern is you! For the moment, there is no risk in coming to shul and to be part of the community. We hope to see many of you on Shabbat and Purim.

May our world be blessed with healing – with refu’ah shleimah – at this time, and always!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Adrian M Schell & ManCom

Lehitra’ot Rabbi Avidan

Desmond Sweke’s Farewell Address and Presentation to Rabbi and Ruth Avidan

Shabbat Vayechi  11 January 2020

On this very special occasion, it is a great honour to share the bimah with Rabbi Hillel Avidan and Ruth.

Ashley and I have been members of Bet David for 33 years. For most of that time, Hillel was either the Rabbi or Rabbi Emeritus of Bet David and, for all that time, they have been our close friends. Rabbi Avidan prepared our sons for, and officiated at, their B’nei Mitzvah, while Ruth was the force behind the Religion School, also working tirelessly with the Sisterhood. We share with our congregation, fond memories and a deep appreciation for all that you both have done for us. All those years ago, when Hillel left Bet David, he said that he was retiring. I did not believe it then and I don’t believe it now! Rabbi Avidan had already retired when I became chairman and the task of finding a new Rabbi was made very difficult for those involved, as we needed to find a Rabbi to fill Hillel’s shoes.

As an aside, it seems appropriate that we are now standing above The Middleton, as the development of the original hall was largely Hillel’s “baby”! Furthermore, in his sermon today, Rabbi Avidan spoke of Avraham and Sara. I would like to point out that the roof of this synagogue was designed to resemble the tent of Avraham and Sara and, just as their tent was open on all four sides to welcome travellers approaching from all directions,  our synagogue  has also been designed to open on all sides to be welcoming to everyone.

Today is a special moment in time which we wish to mark by presenting Hillel and Ruth with certificates and a special challah cover embroidered with the Bet David logo, today’s date and a note of appreciation.

On behalf of Rabbi Schell, the Management Committee, our congregation and all gathered here, we wish Rabbi Avidan and Ruth much joy in the new chapter of their lives, as we say thank you and Lehitra’ot.

Statement on Horrific Synagogue Attack

Dear congregants,

We are saddened and horrified by the hate crime and act of terrorism which happened yesterday at the Eitz Chayim – Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, USA.

Our thoughts go out to the families of the victims, the staff and members of the Synagogue, the Jewish Community, and all who mourn.  We are grateful for the first responders and the police, whose actions saved lives. Our grief at the deaths of eleven people and the wounding of six more is palpable. We can see ourselves in them and in the pained faces of their surviving family members. We pray for the well-being of those who mourn their loss, and for the recovery of those who suffered terrible wounds.

Our immediate reaction is simple. We urge all of you to be more vigilant and aware of any potential dangers. Speak up if you see anything suspicious around the synagogue. Together with CSO, we are reviewing and meeting about security plans currently in place for Bet David.  Your security is of utmost and critical importance for us.

We have had no threats made against us, nor do we have any concrete reasons for fear. Our synagogue leadership is reacting in a measured and responsible fashion, and we urge all of us to do likewise.

Nearly 80 years after the Kristallnacht Pogrom in Nazi Germany we are once again reminded of the hideous evil face of anti-Semitism, and the murderous force that comes with it.

Each of us has the power to be an agent of change – to promote love, respect and understanding in a world that seems to be feeding off of hatred and bigotry. Don’t keep silent, speak out, do what you can to eradicate hate, and respond to those who perpetrate it – and show people another way – a way of inclusion, love and fellowship.

As a response to the rise of neo-Nazi organisations in Europe, people have joined together under a banner saying “We are more“.

Yes, we are more. More than all who hate us. More than those who try to limit our freedom of self-expression. More than those who try to kill us.

May God who makes peace in the heavens, bring peace to us, to Israel and all the world.

Eric Milner and Rabbi Adrian M Schell