Jo’burg Shluchim Reinvent Shlichus Amid Pandemic

Nowhere is the pandemic of loneliness, anxiety and depression more acutely felt than among the elderly. This is where South Africa’s Chabad Seniors Program has stepped up to the plate, creating an array of activities to keep seniors connected.

For decades, Chabad House Johannesburg has run countless programs for Seniors across South Africa. Since 5779, Rabbi Ari Kievman has directed this program raising it to new heights. 

Over the past nine months, these activities had to evolve with the safety of the elderly as the number one priority. The COVID-19 crisis has severely impacted seniors health both physically and moreover emotionally. Nowhere is the pandemic of loneliness, anxiety, depression and despair, more acutely felt than among the elderly.

Many seniors have their children and grandchildren far away, overseas. Even when families live close by, many have been unable to be together for fear of infection. This is where Chabad Seniors Program has stepped up to the plate.

“Chabad cherishes elderly wisdom, and has a mission to promote lifelong learning opportunities,” said Rabbi Kievman “It’s important to keep seniors active, motivated, and animated, especially in an era that we didn’t anticipate.”

Rabbi Kievman and his wife Batya have supplemented programs with senior-specific webinars, and designed sessions to promote wellness at home.

Chabad Care-Callers now has a committed group of volunteers, who call seniors regularly, a human voice that reaches out, develops a relationship with warmth and support. 

CHESSED – (Chabad House Essential Social Services Elderly Drive) has a team of volunteers delivering packages of essential foods and household goods to our seniors. 

Shab-Box – a weekly Shabbos pack delivered to hundreds of seniors – includes freshly baked challahs with treats, hot soups in the winter, Parsha thoughts, cognitive activity booklets, gifts, large-print Tehillims, Holiday guides, Chanukah kits and so much more. 

For Pesach the shluchim distributed hundreds of Seder-To-Go kits with Matzah and vouchers to local kosher shops. (For those who were afraid to go out shopping themselves, volunteers hand delivered.) They have delivered thousands of handwritten notes to seniors reminding them that we are thinking of them, we miss them, and we are here for them.

“One of the benefits of having volunteers deliver the food is that personal interaction,” Rabbi Kievman shared. “We don’t want to just drop it off, we want to interact with people and address any problems we observe.”

“The children of the elderly are also adversely affected by the tyranny of distance,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Riesenberg of Melbourne, Australia. He said that South African expats living in Australia are extremely anxious about not being able to travel to see their parents.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Kievmans have created a team of over 100 volunteers, delivered to over 30 retirement facilities, handed out over 300 challahs every week and made a difference to more than 1000 seniors lives.

On Kislev 23 and 23, Dec 9 and 10, the shluchim will be launching the Spread the Light crowdfunding campaign, where together with the public, they aim to raise R1 Million (One Million Rand). 

This week every rand donated will be matched and doubled. Your donation will enable them to continue keeping the elderly active and inspired in the best possible way under these trying circumstances. With Hashem’s help, everyone will weather this crisis together and come out stronger and better with a world totally transformed for the good, may it be very soon.

Please visit to make a donation now. The system fully supports both South African and international donations, and all donations will receive an 18A tax certificate. 

Best investment! Watch your dollars grow instantly:
$18 becomes R540
$36 become R1080
$180 becomes R5400
$360 becomes R10,800

We need unity and strength right now, and the shluchim need you, now, more than ever. Together, we can do wonders.

In keeping in line with the Rabbonim's policies for websites, we do not allow comments. However, our Rabbonim have approved of including input on articles of substance (Torah, history, memories etc.)

We appreciate your feedback. If you have any additional information to contribute to this article, it will be added below.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

advertise package