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