Renowned South Africa Shliach Stepping Down, But Not Retiring

After 34 years of leading the Sydenham Shul of Johannesburg, South Africa, Shliach Rabbi Yossy Goldman will pass the baton of leadership of the iconic shul to his associate and chosen successor, Rabbi Yehuda Stern. But the senior Rabbi says he is not retiring.

After 34 years where Shliach Rabbi Yossy Goldman stood at the helm of the Sydenham Shul of Johannesburg, South Africa, a transition will be taking place this Thursday, marking a historic event in Johannesburg’s Jewish communal life.

After many months of deliberation, Rabbi Goldman has decided to pass the baton of leadership of the iconic Sydenham Shul of Johannesburg, South Africa to his associate and chosen successor, Rabbi Yehuda Stern.

During Goldman’s 34-year tenure and under his exceptional leadership, Sydenham Shul became, in the words of the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, “one of the great Synagogues of the English-speaking world.”

But now, this senior Shliach and one of the world’s most experienced and successful congregational Rabbis believes that it is imperative for the Shul to be planning proactively for the future.

“A new generation needs new approaches, fresh ideas, and indeed, new blood,” says Goldman.

“Can a Shliach ‘retire?’ G-d forbid!” says Rabbi Goldman.  “I am not retiring to the coast to spend my life going fishing. The word “retirement” did not appear in the Rebbe’s vocabulary. He insisted that life must always be purposeful, productive, and meaningful. But I also believe that too many people in leadership positions stifle younger, talented leaders from taking their rightful places and growing their organizations.”

Indeed, it is his intention to continue to work on new projects and to carry on the Shlichus which the Rebbe sent him and his Rebbetzin Rochel to South Africa for back in 1976. Nor will he be leaving the Shul. He has been appointed Rabbi Emeritus for Life and will still be involved and play an active role in the Shul and in the lives of his congregants.

On the personal side, Rabbi Goldman hopes to have more time to write and will also welcome the prospect of lecturing and accepting invitations for speaking events internationally.

“I have had the privilege of working closely with Rabbi Goldman over the last 14 years, and I have learned a lot from him,” says Rabbi Yehuda Stern. “I feel honored and excited to continue his amazing work as spiritual leader of the Sydenham community. Our Shul has a rich history and I look forward to leading the Shul into the future.”

“I have every confidence in Rabbi Yehuda Stern,” says Goldman, “and know that he will grow our beloved Shul and help develop the next generation. I wish him and his Rebbetzin Estee ‘Mazel Tov’ on this prestigious appointment.  May they go from strength to strength.”

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