|Johannesburg, South Africa’s Soccer City will host the opening and final matches of the 2010 World Cup this summer. (Photo: Shane Diaz/Flickr)|
As the eyes of soccer fans around the globe turn their eyes to South Africa, host of this summer’s 2010 World Cup, its expansive Jewish community is gearing up for an onslaught of tourists and Jewish sports
“We’re expecting visitors all over the country,” reported Rabbi Dovid Masinter, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary who is coordinating communal activities in conjunction with the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. “Already, the phones have been ringing off the
Masinter, who also serves as director of the Chabad House of Johannesburg, specifically mentioned prayer services at stadium matches for those who request them, Shabbat meals, and Torah classes.
In the lead-up to the World Cup, which kicks off June 11 and will last until the final match on July 11, Masinter and officials at the
board of deputies designed the community’s own makaraba, a
With official government estimates indicating that anywhere from 350,000 to 450,000 people will descend on South African for the event,
Wendy Kahn, national director of the board of deputies, said that most
“There’s an incredible excitement and enthusiasm out there,” stated Kahn. “We believe this is the country’s greatest moment since its first
democratic election in 1994. South Africa has a very rich Jewish
Possessing a history that dates back to the 17th century, when the first Jewish settlers of Cape Town arrived under the protection of the
Dutch East India Company, South Africa’s Jewish community exploded in
The community’s effort to partner with the Chabad House and, in the words of spokeswoman Charisse Zeifert, “offer a Jewish home away from
home for our visitors,” dovetails with a government campaign of public
“We are waiting,” Johannesburg resident Gordon Mokonyane said in a report on the World Cup’s official Web site. “It is time for the people
to stop putting us down and to come see for themselves that Africa can
According to Ronel Bester, a spokeswoman for the South African Ministry of Tourism, nine cities will be hosting a total of 22 matches.
Many visitors are expected to arrive in the country early, and stay past
At the board of deputies, Kahn acknowledged that foreigners’ perceptions of South Africa have likely been tainted by its history of
apartheid and an uptick in crime. She said, however, that the country is
“Anti-Semitism in South Africa is probably one of the lowest in the world,” she asserted. “Crime is a problem in certain pockets of the
cities, but there are many initiatives to address it. With the eyes of
For his part, Masinter said that he wants “people to know that we’re there for them.”
“We’re trying to make things as easy as possible for those attending the World Cup,” he added. “Whatever they need, we’ll do our best to provide.”
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