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Lights aglow in Africa

chanukah.jpgLights aglow in Africa

The Jewish community of Kinshasa within the Democratic Republic of the Congo joined Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, Head Shliach to Central Africa and the Talmidei Hatmimim of Yeshivas Ohel Moshe Chabad to celebrate the onset of Chanukah with a public Menorah lighting held at the Beth Yaacov Synagogue and Regional HQ of Chabad Lubavitch of Central Africa.

Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila spoke on the message of Chanukah and its relevancy today, especially in light of the recent terror attacks in Kenya just a few months ago. Rabbi Bentolila reminded everyone present of the message from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of blessed memory, how bringing in just a little light, can dispel much darkness and how each every Jew has the ability to be a lamplighter to bring the light of Torah and Yiddishkeit to all.

In that vein, he announced that two Rabbinical students had already arrived from New York to Accra, Ghana and presented the list of cities where further Chanukah celebrations will be hosted by students of the Yeshiva throughout the remainder of Chanukah.

Within the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bachurim will be traveling to Kolwezzi and Lubumbashi, to Brazzaville and Pointe Noire in the Republic of Congo, to Rwanda and to Nairobi,Kenya.

Additionally, many Menorah lighting's and Chanukah events will be taking place in Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria under the direction of the local Shluchim, Rabbi & Mrs. Israel Uzan.

A Year of Change

tishrei_icon.jpgDear Friend,

The New Year 5774 is upon us. Let us pray that it be... A Year of Change, A Year of Hope, A Year of Jewish Education, A Year of Israel celebration, A Year of inspired Jewish Living, A Year of Promise, A Year to Dream.

At Chabad of Central Africa, we are continuously working to makes these prayers reality.

Over the course of this Holiday season, Rabbinical students and emissaries have been dispatched to Lagos, Nigeria; Windhoek, Namibia; Accra, Ghana, Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, Congo Republic; Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, and Freetown, Sierra Leone; in addition to our full time presence in Abuja, Nigeria and our HQ in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

We simultaneously continue to offer relevant, accessible, and meaningful resources and inspiration to other Jewish individuals and communities, warming the lives of thousands of Jews throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

Later this month, ten new Rabbinical students will be arriving in Kinshasa for the third consecutive year to further help expand our outreach efforts throughout the year.

Towards this end, I would like to ask you for your partnership in our work, with your generous gift to our yearly budget. Our Mission is huge and costly, and with your help, we can do even more.

Help make these dreams a reality, Today.


Click here to donate now!

May your generosity generate divine blessing for a prosperous, healthy, and illuminated year, materially and spiritually.

Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila
Head Emissary for Sub-Saharan Africa

P.S. With the new year upon us I invite you to browse through our all new website www.JewishAfrica.com!

Passover Services and Community Seders

March 18, 2013
Kinshasa – Democratic Republic of Congo

Passover Services and Community Seders to be offered to Jewish Communities throughout Central Africa and the Sub-Saharan continent

Chabad-Lubavitch of Central Africa, under the leadership of Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, in cooperation with Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters, are dispatching groups of Rabbinical students to the Sub-Saharan African Region, to once again help organize the traditional Passover Seder programs and enhance the spirit of the ‘Exodus’ amongst the Jewish residents, expatriates, dignitaries, and visiting businessmen.

Students from the Rabbinical College of Kinshasa will be joined by their colleagues from Johannesburg, South Africa and from New York to lead public community Seders in 1) Kinshasa, DRC 2) Pointe Noire in the Congo Republic 3) Lagos, Nigeria 4) Abuja, Nigeria 5) Windhoek, Namibia 6) Accra, Ghana, 7) Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, and 8) Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Other community Seders will be hosted by local communities in Kenya, Ethiopia, Gabon, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Jewish residents in Benin, Bostwana, Burkino Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Malawi,  Sao Tome & Principe Islands, Senegal, Somalia, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe looking to join and participate in a local program, can contact Rabbi Bentolila at
[email protected].

Jewish children across Central Africa will participate in "hands-on" Model Matza Bakeries where they will bake their very own hand made matzot as well as many other Arts & Crafts and other educational programs surrounding the theme of Passover.

Additionally, Jewish children in Nigeria will benefit from a special Jewish Day Camp experience hosted by our local representatives, Rabbi Israel and Haya Uzan with the assistance of some of our Rabbinical students.
All Jewish residents and businesses in Central Africa are asked and encouraged to sell their "Chametz" by clicking here and completing the form no later than Thursday evening, March 21, 2013 in order to enable us to sell the Chametz in time (Monday morning March 25th) in observance of the Code of Jewish Law.

Please click here for a ENGLISHFRENCH | HEBREW link to the Laws and Customs of Passover, times for stopping to eat and burning of the Chametz, Candle lighting times, Yizkor observance and all other issues related to the Passover Holiday. For any other questions, please do not hesitate contacting Rabbi Bentolila at the telephone and email below.

Chag Sameach,

Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila
Chabad Lubavitch of Central Africa
251, Avenue de la Mission
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Phone: +243-822-804912
Fax: (1212)-504-2621
Email: [email protected]

Hello from Chabad

Welcome to our newly designed and totally revamped website. With so many new happenings here at Chabad of Central Africa, such as the newly established Yeshivat Ohel Moshe - Chabad, our expanded Rabbinical Peace Corps and Roving Rabbis programs visiting up to 14 other countries in Central Africa throughout the year, and so much more, we felt the need to renew our site and make it more user friendly and enjoyable for our visitors and readers.

Most importantly, we wanted to give you the opportunity to share your thoughts and concerns and comment on our Blog page.

The site is not yet complete as we are updating individual pages one by one.

Please visit our site, browse through our recent albums, read our new articles and provide us with your thoughts and comments.

Please also subscribe to receive our monthly e-newsletters and to be put on our list to receive new publications such as the upcoming New Year calendar for 5773 and Holiday guides.

You can also join our Facebook page and get immediate updates.

Visit often and please stay in touch. We’d love to hear form you

 

Passover Services and Community Seders

April 2, 2012
Kinshasa – Democratic Republic of Congo

Passover Services and Community Seders to be offered to Jewish Communities throughout Central Africa and the Sub-Saharan continent

Chabad-Lubavitch of Central Africa, under the leadership of Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, in cooperation with Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters, are dispatching groups of Rabbinical students to the Sub-Saharan African Region, to help organize the traditional Passover Seder programs and enhance the spirit of the ‘Exodus’ amongst the Jewish residents, expatriates, dignitaries, and visiting businessmen.

Community Seders will be held in 1) Kinshasa 2) Lubumbashi, DRC 3) Brazzaville 4) Pointe Noire in the Congo Republic 5) Lagos 6) Abuja, Nigeria, 7) Windhoek, Namibia 8) Accra, Ghana, 9) Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, 10) Luanda, Angola 11) Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Jewish residents in Benin, Bostwana, Burkino Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe Islands, Senegal, Somalia, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe looking to join and participate in a local program, can contact Rabbi Bentolila at
[email protected].

Jewish children across Central Africa will participate in "hands-on" Model Matza Bakery where they will bake their very own hand made matzot as well as many other Arts & Crafts and other educational programs surrounding the theme of Passover.

All Jewish residents and businesses in Central Africa are asked and encouraged to sell their "Chametz" by
clicking here and completing the form no later than Thursday evening, April 5, 2012 8:00 PM (Local time DRC) in observance of the Code of Jewish Law.

Please
click here for a link to the Laws and Customs of Passover, times for stopping to eat and burning of the Chametz, Candle lighting times, Yizkor observance and all other issues related to the Passover Holiday. For any other questions, please do not hesitate contacting Rabbi Bentolila at the telephone and email below.

Chag Sameach,

Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila
Chabad Lubavitch of Central Africa
251, Avenue de la Mission
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

 



 

Rabbinical Students Fan Out Across Central Africa



Rabbinical Students Fan Out Across Central Africa

By Karen Schwartz
Jan 3, 2012 2:30 PM

Students from the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s newly established rabbinical school spread out across central Africa over Chanukah to connect with area Jews and a cluster of communities throughout the continent. Traveling by boat and plane to Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Namibia, Gabon, Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville in the Congo Republic, and Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya, they hosted public menorah lightings and holiday events throughout the region with the backing of Chabad-Lubavitch of Central Africa.

Rabbinical student Benjamin Bentolia, who traveled around the Congo over Chanukah, lit candles with residents and spoke with them about both the holiday and Judaism in general.

“That’s the point of Chanukah, to reach out to the outside, reach out to the Jews who are not aware of their Judaism and those who can’t practice it because of technical reasons,” he said. “They’re in Africa, [but] they can’t forget.”

Like his seven fellow rabbinical students, Bentolila was there to help those he came in contact with learn and help them connect with the holiday’s traditions. The goal was to meet other Jews and share with them ways Judaism can help improve their lives, and to inspire them to do as many acts of goodness and kindness as possible.

Many of those he met were Israeli and French, with some working in the agriculture, fishing, diamonds or construction industries. In Pointe-Noire, he said by way of example, the community just built a synagogue in the home of a religious Israeli Jew, though it doesn’t yet have a Torah scroll. And in Brazzaville, there are a group of Israelis that gather for the Sabbath.

“There’s no synagogue, but they just try to keep as much of Judaism as they can,” related Bentolila.

The students received warm welcomes, he said, adding that they spent the week handing out menorahs, which residents were happy to get, and helping Jewish men don the prayer boxes known as tefillin.

“There are two Jews that are starting to put on tefillin every day,” Bentolila said of Pointe-Noire. And in Brazzaville, one man is similarly giving it a try. “We came and we encouraged them to do more; that’s the way it works.”

In nearby Namibia, Dovie Aizenman was busy setting up a circumcision for the grandson of a Cuban businessman he had met, whose grandson lives in Mexico and hadn’t yet had one.

“Hopefully we’re going to celebrate a bris in Mexico,” he said.

Aizenman also met a man who didn’t know he was Jewish until they started chatting randomly on the street. The encounter will lead to a Bar Mitzvah celebration for the man at his home.

Other unexpected connections included meeting a traveling family from Sydney, Australia, that was invited to a Chanukah party, an elderly Russian Jew who had never put on tefillin, and an elderly woman who said she never imagined she would be sitting in Namibia with so many people at a Sabbath meal.

“Events such as these bring people out,” said Aizenman. “People come and get involved. That’s simply amazing.”

CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTO GALLERIES 


Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila
Chabad Lubavitch of Central Africa
251, Avenue de la Mission
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Phone: +243-999-770770
Fax: (1212)504 2621
Email:
[email protected]

 

A Mezuzah on African Hospital?

A Mezuzah on African Hospital?
Nov 6, 2011

Photos by Israel Bardugo
 

How did Central Africa Shliach Shlomo Bentolila end up putting a Mezuzah on one of the most advanced hospitals in West Africa?

By COLlive reporter
Photos by Israel Bardugo


Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, Director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Central Africa, was honored with inaugurating the new building of the La Paz Medical Center, one of the most sophisticated and advanced hospitals in West Africa.

With the hospital's staff around him, the Chabad Shliach made a blessing and affixed a Mezuzah on the hospital's front door.

This news is no surprise for those who know the dynamics of Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony, which is considered one of the most poorly-run states of western Africa.

The driving force behind the medical center in the port city of Bata is an Israeli citizen called Yardena Ovadia. The businesswomen is said to have close ties to the country's President Teodoro Obiang, who has ruled the country since a coup in 1979 and is the Chairperson of the African Union.

Ovadia is said to have persuaded Obiang and GE Healthcare International to build the state-of-the-art medical center, which employs a large staff of Israelis.

According to Haaretz, she grew up in the hardscrabble Negev city of Dimona, Israel, and first visited Equatorial Guinea several years ago and formed a friendship with President Obiang.

Rabbi Bentolila, who from his base in The Congo has been looking out for and assisting Jewish communities, visiting businesspeople and expats in Central Africa, was invited to the inauguration ceremony.

With his distinct chassidic look, he praised the humanitarian work and medical assistance that is given at the hospital, blessing that the healing angel Refael will be with the doctors and nurses.

Click here for more photos 

Touring a War-Ridden Country

Touring a War-Ridden Country
Nov 3, 2011


 

Yaacov Behrman blogs about the time he spent touring Kenya while the African country was fighting al-Qaeda-linked Shabab militia.

Yaacov Behrman, Lubavitch.com

A hundred years after the Kenyan Jewish community built their first synagogue in Nairobi, I celebrated Sukkot there.

I was planning a trip to Kenya with some colleagues anyway. Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, Chabad representative to Central Africa, asked us to stop on the way and spend the first days of Sukkot and Shabbat with the community in Nairobi.

Jewish settlement in Kenya dates back to 1903. As a proposal for a Jewish homeland, British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain offered Theodore Herzl 5,000 square miles of the Mau Plateau in what was then Uganda. The land has since become part of Kenya.

The World Zionist Organization sent a delegation to scout the land.

The observers returned and reported that the land is filled with dangerous wildlife. They also informed the Zionist Organization that the Maasai tribe (a large number lived in the proposed homeland) were opposed to an influx of European Jews.

In 1905, the Zionist Congress voted against the idea.

Some Jews decided to move to Kenya anyway but settled in more urban areas. In 1912, sixteen Jewish men built the first Synagogue in Nairobi, Kenya.

Currently, the synagogue is a beautiful structure located on a huge compound in the center of Nairobi. A splendid garden takes up most of the compound.

Though Nairobi seems pretty safe, Kenya is no stranger to terrorism. In 1998, the US Embassy was bombed. A few years later, in 2002, terrorists attempted to shoot down an Israeli passenger plane. Within minutes of the missile attempt on the plane, terrorist crashed a car bomb into the Jewish owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa.

So security is tight. The entire compound is surrounded by a concrete wall. The only entrance into the property is well guarded by armed officers.

Services are held weekly on Shabbat and Jewish Holidays. Approximately twenty five members attend synagogue on a regular basis. The High Holidays draw over a hundred.

We left Nairobi Sunday morning and headed for the Maasai Mara.

We drove along unpaved roads zigzagging around potholes to avoid getting stuck and stranded. There's no AAA to call if that happens here. Not for the faint-hearted, who are better off flying.

We spent three days in the Mara. The accommodations at the Simbo lodge were excellent and the kitchen staff worked overtime to ensure we had kosher food. They even allowed us to set up a sukkah near the eating area.

On the first day of our Safari, in response to numerous kidnappings on the Somalia border, Kenyan forces entered Somalia to push back the al-Qaeda-linked Shabab militia.

If not for the one TV screen in the lodge lobby, we’d have never known the country was at war.

Before we left, the manager thanked us for coming to Kenya during these troubling times.

The lodge received many cancellations because foreign countries issued warnings against travel to Kenya.

He smilingly told us that the Israelis aren't cancelling. Even more, he told us happily, are coming now because of cheaper prices.

Click here to view more photos 

First Yeshiva in Central Africa

First Yeshiva in Central Africa
Aug 7, 2011

Photos: Yisrael Bardugo
 

Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, Shliach in Central Africa, has opened a Chabad Yeshiva in the Congo's capital city of Kinshasa, with students flying in from New York to attend.

History was made in Africa, as Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, shliach of Chabad of Central Africa, has opened a Chabad Yeshiva in the Congo's capital city of Kinshasa.

Rabbi Bentolila, who arrived in Africa to open the first Chabad House in Africa 20 years ago, has seen the amazing growth of Chabad in the country, with centers opening in 11 other locations in Africa since then.

On the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Chabad in Africa, Rabbi Bentolila resolved to open a Chabad yeshiva as well. Within weeks a location was found and seforim - books were sent from Israel.

Rabbi Leizer Avtzon of New York was instrumental in finding a group of bochurim who would travel from New York to learn in the new Yeshiva.

The boys, students of Oholei Torah in Crown Heights, arrived in recent weeks, and have quickly become part of the small community, and have been giving Torah classes and visiting community members in additon to their schedule of learning.

The Jewish community in the Congo consists mainly of business people, diplomats, and many Israelis.

Click here to view more photos

The Mezuzah that Saved a Soul

The Mezuzah that Saved a Soul
May 13, 2011

Kotlarsky (L) and Raskin (R) putting teffilin on Yair and Ma'or Pelossof * Photo: Jewish Press
 

Bochurim Dovid Kotlarsky and Yaakov Yosef Raskin visited Zambia, Africa, on Pesach, and met an Israeli who at first wouldn't even talk to them.

Molly Resnick - The Jewish Press

Last week, I heard a truly touching story. Of all the exploits of Lubavitcher shluchim, the following one does not rank in the top tier. But it's a true testament to the movement and the vision of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, that an inspiring story like the following is almost unremarkable - that small miracles have almost become the norm.

This story takes place in Lusaka, Zambia. A son of one of my very close friends - all of 22 years old - Dovid Kotlarsky, was sent to this city in the middle of Africa and with the help and guidance of the Chabad shliach in the Congo, Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, conducted a Seder and celebrated Pesach with the Jews in the area. (This was part of a project of the Lubavitcher educational arm - Merkaz L'Inyonei Chinuch - that sent out over 650 rabbinical students this year to share Pesach with Jews all over the U.S. and the world.)

Dovid, together with fellow shliach Yaakov Yosef Raskin, arrived in Zambia a few days before Pesach and, armed with Haggadahs, shmurah matzah, and wine, they took advantage of their "free" days to visit various Jews in their homes and offices and offer to put tefillin on their arms and mezuzos on their doors.

One of the places they visited was a Zambian government company where a few Israeli Jews work. As Dovid was standing in the lobby, a white man was coming down the stairs (in Zambia white faces are the exception) and he figured he must be one of the Israelis. And yet, as the man passed the black-hat, bearded, smiling young Lubavitcher, he completely ignored him. Before Dovid could gather his wits, the man suddenly turned around and said, "Shalom. Listen, you're not going to get anything from me," and promptly walked away.

Well, Lubavitchers, like all idealists, are used to rejection. So the young shliach overcame the encounter and continued his work.

On erev Pesach the two went back to the same company for another visit. Figuring he had nothing to lose, Dovid stopped by the office of the gentleman who had spurned him the other day. Surprisingly, he acted nice. He disclosed that he used to work in the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan, where Lubavitchers also used to try visiting him. "But I would never go to see them," he told Dovid in a typical Israeli tone "I'm a chiloni (secular), I don't put on tefillin, and I don't say any berachot."

"That's fine," Dovid replied. "I really came by to say hello and wanted to ask you if you would like us to put up a mezuzah on your door just like we did with your colleagues upstairs." To his surprise, the man said, "OK."

Not only that, he even agreed to put it up himself. As Dovid rushed to put a yarmulke on his head the man recoiled. "I don't do that," he said.

"Fine, no problem," Dovid responded, as he affixed the mezuzah on the office doorpost while explaining its significance.

That night Dovid and Yaakov Yosef helped prepare what they were later told was the largest Seder in Zambia since the 1970s, with close to 100 people attending. And among the guests, who should appear but the gentleman from the office? Nor did he come alone. He brought along a non-Jewish black woman, whom they were happy to learn was only his girlfriend, not his wife.

Dovid honestly didn't think he had made that much of an impression on the fellow who seemed to have exhibited mixed feelings about his visit to his office. And so it came as a surprise when the man approached him at the Seder and thanked him for his visit, and then requested another mezuzah to place on his home door. "Even in my father's house in Israel, there is no mezuzah," he said.

"Today, in the morning, I must tell you, it was the first time in my life that I ever did something religious. And then with great emotion, he said, "Today you saved a soul in Israel."

Dovid was truly shocked at the man's words and responded, "I haven't saved! I only reconnected. A Jew only needs to be reconnected because every Jew is really a diamond. All one needs to do is shake off some of the dust."

The man looked at the young Lubavitcher and said quietly, "It's only because of people like you, that people like me are around today!"

Miraculous? Not necessarily. The man, as far as we know, is not wearing a streimel today nor is he living in Yerushalayim. He quite likely still has a non-Jewish girlfriend. But he was touched. His Jewish neshamah was sparked. He put mezuzos on his office and home and attended a Seder. Who knows what the future will bring?

Lubavitch boasts thousands of miraculous, hair-raising, amazing stories of hashgacha, transformation and courage. But it's the small stories like these - perhaps above all - that makes the movement so special, and will surely help to hasten our geulah.
 

Central Africa Salutes Chabad

Central Africa Salutes Chabad
Mar 6, 2011


 

A slew of African political and business leaders and Lubavich officials showed up in The Congo last week to salute 20 years of work by Shluchim Rabbi Shlomo and Miriam Bentolila.

By Hana Levi Julian, Chabad.org
Photos by Israel Bardugo


Jewish residents and central African leaders celebrated 20 years of friendship this week as hundreds of people marked two decades of Chabad-Lubavitch activities in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa.

Antoine Ghonda, a roving ambassador of President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, addressed the crowd at this week's gathering, underscoring the government's support of Jewish programs in the country.

"The ambassador was especially warm in his remarks on behalf of the government and the president, and in the way he acknowledged that Chabad has contributed so much, and brought so much joy in the country," noted Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, the Kinshasa-based director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Central Africa.

Jews living in 14 countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa rely on the outreach, educational and social service programs provided by Bentolila and his staff. Among the population in those countries are businesspeople and tourists, including many Israeli citizens.

But though he is definitely among the minority, and in a region whose history includes several periods of unrest, the rabbi said he does not feel unsafe.

"I have traveled a lot in central Africa, and in the 14 countries in which we provide services, I have never encountered any anti-Semitism," said Bentolila. "On the contrary, there is only reverence and respect for the people of Israel and the Holy Land, and especially from the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo."

Kabila was unable to personally attend the gala celebration at the Grand Hotel, although numerous dignitaries attended the event, including the American ambassador and 12 other representatives from the U.S. Embassy.

Despite an attack earlier in the week at a military base in Kinshasa, and another at the presidential residence, government officials, foreign ambassadors, business owners and rabbinic colleagues of the rabbi streamed in from abroad.

At the event, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch, announced the expansion of Chabad services to the region.

Chabad of Central Africa, he said, will appoint full-time permanent representatives to Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria. The emissaries, to be supervised by Bentolila, will work in conjunction with the local Jewish communities.

Stated Kotlarsky: "We believe Africa has a [bright] future."

Click here to view more photos 

Chabad of Central Africa To Open New Centers in Kenya and Nigeria

Chabad of Central Africa To Open New Centers in Kenya and Nigeria

Chabad of Central Africa To Open New Centers in Kenya and Nigeria

Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila visits with Congo's President Kabila.
Kinshasa, Congo
March 1, 2011

 

Chabad of Central Africa will be appointing full-time, permanent representatives to Nairobi, Kenya, and Lagos, Nigeria under the auspices of Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, Chabad’s representative to the region, in conjunction with Chabad-Lubavitch Headquarters in New York.

The rabbis will work in cooperation with the local Jewish communities of these respective cities.

 

 

The announcement, greeted by thunderous applause, was made by Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos, at a gala event marking 20 years of Chabad in Central Africa Tuesday evening at the Grand Hotel in Kinshasa, Congo. Attending the event was Adolphe Muzito, the country's Prime Minister, along with other dignitaries including the senior adviser to the President and several members of the President's cabinet.

Despite an attack earlier this week at a military base in Kinshasa, and at the presidential residence, dozens flew in to participate at the event. Hundreds of guests, among them government officials, foreign ambassadors and prominent businessmen attended. Rabbinic colleagues of Rabbi Bentolila traveled from numerous countries to celebrate.

President of the Democratic Republic of Congo,  Joseph Kabila called Rabbi Bentolila at the event to congratulate him and offer his greetings. "He expressed gratitude for the confidence that Chabad and the Jewish community have in his country," Rabbi Bentolila told Lubavitch.com.

Reporting from the event, Yaacov Behrman said, “The streets of Kinshasa are calm. This is a beautiful country, and we feel very safe here.” 

To date, Rabbi Bentolila has been hosting Chabad educational and social service programs in 14 countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Tanya Printed in Sierra Leone

Tanya Printed in Sierra Leone
Nov 9, 2010


 

Bochurim Yehuda Kirsh and Yisrael Kirsh printed a Tanya in the city of Freetown in the known diamond country of Sierra Leone.

The Tanya was sponsored by Chabad Lubavitch of Central Africa under the direction of Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila.


 

Click here to view more photos 

Central Africa's First Day Camp


Central Africa's First Day Camp
Apr 21, 2010
 

Photos: Lubavitch.com
 

Central Africa Shliach Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila established the first Jewish camp in Nigeria over Pesach, drawing a total of 70 Jewish children.

by Yaacov Behrman, lubavitch.com

This year, school break in Nigeria coincided with Passover. For Chabad emissary to Central Africa, Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, it provided an opportunity too obvious to ignore, and for the first time in Central African history, a Jewish camp—with two branch locations—was established, drawing a total of 70 Jewish children.

In addition to a range of sports and recreational activities, children explored Jewish traditions and history together, over a two-week period. According to Rabbi Bentolila this was a "real camp experience . . . in a totally Jewish environment."

For years now, Bentolila—who arrived to Central Africa more than twenty years ago— has been sending Chabad rabbinical students to Nigeria to host Jewish activities, including holiday services, educational seminars and children's programs. In the past, these programs typically drew crowds of between 40 to 200 people.

The Jewish community in Nigeria—consisting primarily of Israelis as well as a number of American and European businesspeople and diplomats—dates back to the late fifties. After Nigeria's independence in 1960, Israel established full diplomatic relations with the newly independent country. Ten years later, when Foreign Minister Golda Meir designed the Israeli African policy, hundreds of Israeli professionals were sent to the region to help Nigeria with technology, agriculture, education and medicine. Hundreds of Nigerians also traveled to Israel for training in the same fields.

Following the Yom Kippur War, under heavy pressure from the OAU resolution, sponsored by Arab countries, Nigeria discontinued all official diplomatic relations with Israel. Nevertheless, Israeli and Nigerian businessman maintained commercial alliances. In addition, Israelis continued to reside and work throughout Nigeria. Full diplomatic relations between the two countries resumed in September, 1992.

Nigeria's Jews generally live in the country's capital city of Abuja or in Lagos, a port city and the second most populous city in Africa. A significant number of Israelis also live in Ibadan.

This year, Bentolila hired Yisroel and Mushka Uzan from Paris, to put together a Jewish camp, from the ground up. The newlywed couple arrived in Lagos to do the legwork—locate campsites, recruit children, purchase all necessary supplies, and arrange for kosher food to be shipped from abroad. They visited schools, Israeli residences, compounds and local embassies. "The response was impressive. Everyone was interested in participating," Yisroel Uzan said.

Directing the camps—in Lagos and Ibadan—were rabbinical students who were in Africa to conduct Passover seders in Lagos and Accra, Ghana: Yossi Rodel, Aryeh Leib Hurwitz, Mendy Mochkin and Pessach Woloslow.

For two weeks, Jewish children, some with little or no prior exposure to Judaism, were immersed round-the clock in a Jewish environment.

"The feeling of joy after knowing you instilled a sense of pride in these children is empowering," said Rabbi Bentolila. "The amazing success of the camp is an indication of how much more we can accomplish in Central Africa."

Click here to view more photos 

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