Shalom Alecheim

On Wednesday, we visited the “Nairobi Hebrew Congregation” synagogue and met Rabbi Netanel Kaszovitz, the only Rabbi in all of East Africa.  Did you know that about 500 Jewish people live in Nairobi? He explained many aspects of Jewish life and traditions in Nairobi. The Rabbi answered all our questions. We learned that “synagogue” means “house of assembly.” The Torah, the holy scroll of the Jews, contains 613 laws that must be followed. The Torah is handwritten and great care is taken to ensure all the letters are correct. The Rabbi showed us a Torah and explained the significance of each detail, of which there are many, which is also why writing a Torah can take up to one year.

The Rabbi also explained the Sabbath. This Jewish day of rest lasts from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. During this time, the faithful are prohibited from working. They cannot turn on lights, drive cars, or do schoolwork since the Sabbath is a time for rest and prayer. Another highlight of our visit was the explanation of the Menorah. The seven-branched candelabrum is an important symbol in Judaism. The Rabbi wore a Kippah, a small cap on his head, which reminds people that there is always something “above” them, a divine, higher power.

Our visit to the synagogue was very educational. We learned a lot about the Jewish religion and its customs and it was impressive to see how the Jewish community in Nairobi maintains and lives their traditions.  Towards the end of our visit, rabbi Kaszovitz provided us with a different perspective, enriching our understanding of this complex issue. The visit was enlightening, offering us a deeper appreciation of Jewish traditions and beliefs as practiced by the community in Nairobi. Why did we visit the synagogue? We are currently reading the “Diary of Anne Frank”, a 13-year-old Jewish girl. 

We were joined by the children from Years 3 and 4, who are currently studying Judaism in ethics lessons. What did they think of the visit? 

Emma: It was interesting and fun for me in the synagogue.
Ayla: It was exciting what the rabbi said.
Cara: I was surprised that there are only 500 Jewish people in Nairobi.
Ameen: I found it interesting.
Olivia: It was really cool. 
Dorothea: It was different in the synagogue than I had imagined. In the beginning, when I went in, I thought it would be boring, but it was very interesting. 

Shalom Aleichem – may peace be with you!
Liya Kühnl, Minah Ndalut, grade 8

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