The Jewish Chronicle - - Features -

those chil­dren. Thou­sands of books have been do­nated from Aus­tralia, and money raised from the United States.

There are, of course, down­sides to be­ing the trav­el­ling rabbi, not least be­cause the African land­scape can at times hold dan­gers all of its own. In April, Sil­ber­haft was at­tacked by killer bees in Harare while tak­ing a Shab­bat walk be­tween the Ashke­nazi and Sephardi syn­a­gogues. He suf­fered 87 stings on his head and back, was rushed to hos­pi­tal and ad­min­is­tered adren­a­line.

The ex­treme poverty in the re­gion also plays its part – the rabbi has re­cently been over­see­ing the ex­huma­tion and re­lo­cat­ing of bod­ies from a Jewish ceme­tery in a small town be­cause an ad­ja­cent squat­ter camp was en­croach­ing onto the graves.

From the con­ti­nent’s poor­est to its most pow­er­ful — Sil­ber­haft has good re­la­tions with fig­ures in many African gov­ern­ments. His of­fice wall is crammed with pho­to­graphs of him with var­i­ous dig­ni­taries. He re­calls each meet­ing with an anec­dote.

The Kenyan For­eign Min­is­ter pub­licly stated that he owed him­self to the Jews, as his fa­ther could af­ford to ed­u­cate him as a re­sult of get­ting a bet­ter job af­ter agri­cul­tural train­ing in Is­rael.

“And you see that one, with the Zam­bian Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion? Well, he has made Holo­caust ed­u­ca­tion com­pul­sory in the Zam­bian cur­ricu­lum af­ter at­tend­ing this year’s me­mo­rial day with me.”

Sil­ber­haft has also been hon­oured for his role as Jewish life­line. In 2009 he re­ceived the Com­mon­wealth Jewish Coun­cil and Trust An­niver­sary Award from Lon­don Mayor Boris John­son for his “ded­i­ca­tion and ser­vice”.

And dur­ing a visit to Buck­ing­ham Palace in 1999, the Queen ob­served that “she had never met a young rabbi with such great re­spon­si­bil­i­ties”.

He would not have it any other way — apart from the killer bees, that is.

the or­phans of Aids vic­tims

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