A truly Jewish Ellis Park experience

The Brazil-Chile game: Who'd have thought?

July 1, 2010 06:25
1 minute read.
Brian Levin (second from left) is in South Africa

brian levin world cup 58. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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JOHANNESBURG – Who would have thought that the game between Brazil and Chile, at the Ellis Park stadium, would have turned out to be a real Jewish experience?!

Ellis Park adjoins the suburb of Doornfontein, where many of the Johannesburg Jews lived around 70 years ago. At its heart is Beit street, where all the kosher butcheries and delis had their premises. In those times there were the Goldenberg and Nussbaum butcheries, the American Ice Cream company and of course Crystals, the famous delicatessen.

Well, this is all history, as the area has deteriorated and no Jews live in Ellis Park today. However, the famous Lions shul is still operating and has a daily minyan. The committed rabbi of the community, Rabbi Ilan Herman, is a good soccer player and had a great idea. On match days, the police do not allow any non-residents to travel within a two-kilometer radius of the stadium, to avoid traffic jams. So the shul, which is a five-minute walk from the stadium, hired two buses to ferry in Jewish fans from the surrounding areas to the Lions shul and from there to attend Ellis Park games. We parked at the shul, had a short tour of the synagogue and nearby area, davened Ma’ariv and walked to the park.

After the game – which was just superb – we all walked back to the synagogue, had a cup of tea and drove home.

Today we went to Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria and despite a slow disinteresting game between Paraguay and Japan, we all had an amazing time with the usual vuvuzella-filled atmosphere to be soaked up and enjoyed.

Many Israeli flags were being waved, making the Israeli fans were very prominent in the stands.

There is a short break from the soccer so we are going on safari early tomorrow morning to the Kruger National Park. This park bordering Mozambique is one of the best known in the world and is about the size of the State of Israel.

We will not have internet connection there so our next report will be sent on Sunday morning.

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