In a time of ongoing economic and political turmoil and constant emigration of the country's few remaining Jewish residents, the challenge nowadays for Zimbabwe's embattled Jewish institutions is merely to keep going. For Savyon Lodge, the country's only Jewish aged home in Bulawayo, the task has now been made just a little easier thanks to ChaiSouthAfrica, an international non-profit organisation that raises funds for Jewish residential homes for the aged and handicapped in Southern Africa.


At the end of August this year, ChaiSouthAfrica received a challenge grant to assist Savyon Lodge, with an anonymous American donor undertaking to match every contribution Rand for Rand, up to US$50 000. Over the next month, donations flowed in from all parts of the world, most of them likewise anonymous. By the end of the September, the cut-off date for contributions to the campaign, in excess of the targeted amount had been raised.


There are currently 35 residents in Savyon Lodge, constituting more than one-tenth of Jews still living in Zimbabwe. Because of the economic crisis, compounded by the disastrous devaluation of the local currency, even those who had made what at the time was considered to be sufficient provision for their old age are no longer in a position to take care of themselves. Hylton Solomon, treasurer of Savyon Lodge, said that few Zimbabwean Jews were now in a position to contribute to the home's upkeep, hence the need to solicit contributions from elsewhere.


Solomon thanked all those who had contributed to the campaign.


"I am overwhelmed by tall the very generous donations to our very special cause. It is especially touching to receive such support from people who have never previously had any contact with Zimbabwe" he said. 


Theresa Bengis, daughter of a Savyon Lodge resident, emphasized the importance of the institution in the very troubled times that the Jewish community and the country as a whole found itself in.


"Savyon Lodge is a wonderful place, a real refuge from what is going on in Zimbabwe at the moment. Savyon treats every resident as if he or she is the most important person there is. The caring staff are continually making sure that everyone is more than comfortable in their special home" she said.  


Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, Spiritual Leader to the African Jewish Congress and  facilitator of the campaign in South Africa, commended ChaiSouthAfrica on their initiative and in particular its coordinator and ChairSouth Africa co-founder, Claire Ellman. He said that ensuring the continued viability of a safe, comfortable haven for the Jewish aged, particularly in a country so crisis-ridden as Zimbabwe, was a tremendous mitzvah and that all who had participated in it could feel justly proud of themselves.




With reference to David Saks' article in your 18 November issue ("Open hearts, open pockets bring relief to Savyon Lodge"), I would like, on behalf of our executive committee, to acknowledge the extremely generous donations made to the Lodge.

We are experiencing very difficult times at present and it is so comforting to know how many people care. It is only because of people such as this that we can continue to maintain the standards our dear residents are used to, and to make sure, as our "mission" states that our beloved residents "age with dignity".

G-d bless you all.


Brian Sher -- President of Savyon Lodge

Bulawayo Zimbabwe