From L- R back row: Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, Jeanette Berger, Bernie Goldman (President UHI-Benoni), Michael Jankelowitz, Morris Linton, Stephen Kangisser. Middle Row: Ronnie Suttner (Chairman Benoni Chevra Kaddisha) , David Folb, Peggy Linton Front Row: Stanley Bergman, Rodney Saltz, Danny Dancig (Retired Chairman Benoni Chevra Kadesha) Neil Melnick. Absent: Len Schneider

Benoni Jewry came together in December to pay tribute in grand style paid tribute to the outgoing chairman of the Benoni Chevra Kadisha, Danny Danzig, and to the many dedicated members of the Benoni Chevra who have given long service. This took the form of a festive Shabbat dinner, attended by nearly a hundred community members and well-wishers from outside the town. The preceding services were led by Rabbi Josh Green, the part-time incumbent Spiritual Leader to the Benoni community.


The main speaker at the dinner was Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, Senior Spiritual Leader to the Country Communities, who recounted his many unique and interesting experiences relating to Chevra Kadisha matters in his work in South and Sub-Saharan Africa. After his address, all members of the Chevra Kadisha were called up and presented with a personalised plaque recording their dedicated service. A specially worded plaque was presented to Danny Danzig, detailing his over thirty years of service. All the plaques will be mounted on the wall in the Ohel at the Benoni Jewish Cemetery.


Incoming Chairman Ronnie Suttner praised Danzig for ensuring that the community could always rely on the presence of an efficient, dedicated burial society.


“His leadership skills and good qualities have filtered down and influenced the members of the Chevra Kadisha in such a way that Benoni has always had a fully self sufficient and devoted group of men and women, an amazing team of people who drop everything when needed and just do what needs to be done, no matter what” he said.


Suttner recounted one of the most noteworthy projects that Danzig had been responsible for. The Great Flu Epidemic that immediately followed World War I had resulted in the tragic deaths of many young Jewish children from the East Rand, and most of these had been buried in both the Benoni and Boksburg Jewish cemeteries. This was always of great concern to Danzig, who in 2001, assisted by fellow Chevra Kadisha members, embarked on a project to identify and mark the various graves in the Benoni cemetery. This involved intensive research in the records, where the relevant details were sometimes found written on the back of cigarette boxes. Once the identification process was completed, a special tombstone was erected on each unmarked grave, bearing the deceased’s name and date of death. In July 2002, a special Consecration service was held, with the late Chief Rabbi Harris of Blessed Memory officiating and intoning the haskara. Rabbi Harris was visibly moved by this gesture and afterwards wrote an article in the SA Jewish Report commending the UHI of Benoni on their initiative.