On 24 May, congregants of the Gardens Shul were treated to a wonderful Academy Awards style evening — The Gardens Golden Globes — featuring ‘special guest stars’.
he event was yet another ‘first’ of the shul’s innovative and irrepressible Rabbi Oshy Feldman, who continues to set the bar for congregations throughout the country. This latest of his ‘brainchildren’ was to combine his 50th Friday Night Live with a tribute to members of the congregation who had reached — and passed — their 50th golden anniversaries. The stunning ‘teaser’ posters also showed the wedding pictures of the 20 special ‘guest stars’.
The late afternoon, pre-Shabbat build- up began with group photographs on the Albow steps, followed with a traditional Hollywood entrance by each of the 20 happily well-wed couples along the red carpet, with cameras flashing from all sides. The evening’s MC, Rabbi Feldman, waited microphone in hand for a ‘televised’ interview. The couples were asked to recall their first meeting, their views on marriage and shared recollections and comments that proved quite enlightening — some perhaps not intended for general airing!
By now the Shabbat service was beckoning and it was time to move on to the shul. The brides took their seats upstairs, while the grooms were afforded VIP seating below in the front row pews before the ark. As ever, it was a beautiful service, with chazan, choir and Rabbi Oshy in top form. Then it was time for the anniversary ceremonials to begin. The brides descended from above to join their husbands, to the welcoming strains of the ritual choral Baruch Haba, which they had last enjoyed over 50 years ago — and for four couples, over 60 years previously!
Celebrating in style
But that was not all. As they stood (some hand-in-hand), the couples and congregation were touched — and amused too — when from the bimah, alternating verse-by-verse, Solly Berger (an awardee himself) and Cantor Ian Camissar sang Al Jolson’s well-loved Anniversary Song with flair and emotion. Once the music had died down, Rabbi Feldman solemnly blessed the ‘golden’ couples with a prayer in Hebrew and in English, which, one might have imagined would be the conclusion of the celebrations. But no!
To quote Al Jolson’s ‘You ‘aint seen nuttin yet!’, Rabbi Feldman had more in store. With a gleeful smile he announced his highlight surprise moment, and amidst enthusiastic applause he duly presented each of the 20 awardee couples with a specially inscribed Golden Globe! What a moment it was! Smiles, laughter, and even a tear or two.
Nor did the evening end there. Its culmination was the literally fulsome array of smoked salmon eats on the tables on the upper level outside, with Shnapps a-plenty, which were eagerly imbibed once the brocha had been made.
Everyone — celebrant and congregant — concurred that this was an ‘amazing evening’, with praises ringing out for our exceptional, outstanding and so very personable young Rabbi Oshy Feldman.
A postscript, for the record: Rabbi Feldman took over the pulpit in April 2007 at the age of 24. His first — and South Africa’s first — Friday Night Live was in November 2007.