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Horns and Thorns in the African Bush

Ari Z. Zivotofsky and Ari Greenspan

We were bumping our way in a Jeep over the wild African terrain, while a daredevil helicopter followed us overhead, herding the game into a quarter-mile long blind. We’d never shechted antelope before, and this would certainly be an authentic way to feel what it’s like to be Jewish in Namibia.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

arica We were in South Africa for what were supposed to be a few relatively quiet days — giving a few lectures, visiting some old synagogues, and shechting cows and sheep. But as we’ve already learned time and again, on our halachic adventures, things can turn interesting in unexpected ways. Several hours before Shabbos we heard the phone chirp, indicating an SMS: “Would you like to shecht buck in Namibia?” Well, an opportunity like that is irresistible to a pair of halachic adventurers like ourselves, and so Erev Shabbos we were busy booking flights to South Africa’s neighboring country.

We got the last two seats on a Sunday morning flight to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Formerly known as South West Africa, Namibia gained independence from South Africa in 1990, and is blessed with extensive game and African wildlife. We were being sent by Rabbi Desmond Maizels, a kindred spirit and friend as well as a rabbi in Cape Town who periodically shechts for the few Jews in Namibia. He told us that we would have an adventure as well as enjoy the hospitality of the central Jew in town, Zvi Gorelick, and he was correct on both counts.


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