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Gveret Hatchuel has passed away

“Gveret Hatchuel has passed away”

Many hundreds of children whom Rica first introduced to Hebrew (and sometimes to Judaism), will mourn her passing.

Shortly after I married Rica, she obtained her first appointment as a Hebrew teacher at the Oxford Shul in Saxonwould, and the reform shul near Clarendon Circle.

When Rica and I moved into the new suburb of Savoy Estate in Johannesburg, there was no cheder at the nascent synagogue. Rabbi Newmen (of blessed memory) readily encouraged Rica to form a cheder and she ran this for a number of years. She also taught a few adults Hebrew and the basics of the Shul service and I shall never forget her excitement one Rosh Hashana when the pupils came to thank her for their enjoyment in following the service.

Rica taught Hebrew at King David Primary School Linksfield for seventeen years, eventually as vice head of the Hebrew department and in 1971 was the house mother to the South African King David School and Durban children that spent three months at the Sde Boker Uplan.

Shortly after emigrating to Canada, we settled in Thornhill and Rabbi Plotkin welcomed her request to start Hebrew classes since his young synagogue in Thornhill did not have a cheder. In no time fifty six students had enrolled in three classers and Rica taught them in the basement of our house. Remarkably, twenty six of the pupils were children of children that Rica had taught in South Africa! It was amusing hearing the Canadian children calling her Rica, while parents could only name her Gveret Hatchuel as was the custom in South Africa.

Rica was a wonderful wife, I cannot recall a single major argument in the sixty to years that we were married. She was a devoted mother and in the early years of our children’s lives was in her words “a willing ego boosting taxi driver”, spending many hours taking our children to their respective after school activities.

I together with our children and grand children, family friends and many past pupils, will remember and always miss “Gveret Hatchuel”


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