L-R Rabbi Michael Harris delivering his eulogy, Jonathan Harris (son) , Victor Harris (brother) ,
Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein & Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft.


Family, friends and local ex-South African well-wishers were amongst those in attendance at the unveiling of the tombstone of the late Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris OBE last Tuesday. Rabbi Harris, who served the South African Jewish community as Chief Rabbi for seventeen years, passed away in Hermanus in September 2005, aged 68. He was buried on Har Hamenuchos in Jerusalem.

Also present were Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein, Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft and SAJBD past-president Marlene Bethlehem, all of whom knew Rabbi Harris well and worked with him for many years. Bethlehem was in Jerusalem for the board meeting of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, at which her election as one of its vice-presidents was confirmed.

Speakers paid tribute to Rabbi Harris’ tremendous energy and dedication, as well as his readiness to work directly among the community he served and led with such distinction. Rabbi Goldstein, basing his tribute on Rashi’s commentary on Bamidbar 27: 12-17, said that just as Moshe Rabbeinu had been able to reach out to a wide variety of people through his willingness to concern himself with their individual problems and aspirations, so had Rabbi Harris been able to do so.

“He never lived in an ivory tower. People thought the world of him, not only members of the rabbinate, but right through the echelons of higher politics. He dedicated his entire life to serving the Jewish community” he said.

Rabbi Silberhaft said Rabbi Harris had been a man who epitomised Torah and all that it stood for. For those who were unaware of this, he observed that he had “died with Torah on his lips and a prayer for peace”. Describing his visits to Rabbi Harris in his last days in Hermanus, Rabbi Silberhaft recalled that despite being in considerable pain, which for others might have been a real test of faith and belief, he had “never shown fear and retained the regal presence for which he was so well known”.

Rabbi Michael Harris stressed that his father had always taught that being a good Jew encompassed all fields of human behaviour, both inside and outside the synagogue.

“Dad made sure that his congregations followed the right path, not only that of Torah observance but the path of justice and morality” he said.