Barry’s second Bar Mitzvah

Barry and Sandra Geffen at their Oasis apartment. Picture: Rene Gluckman

Family and friends shed a tear or two when they helped Barry Geffen, a long-time member of Marais Road Shul, celebrate his second barmitzvah on 16 March, 70 years to the day he recited his maftir, Nachor, at the shul in Springs on the East Rand, where he was born. 

All those years ago Barry gave a sterling performance under the guidance of Reverend Altshuler who taught him the trope symbols.

As long as he can remember Barry has been a regular shul goer and been involved in communal affairs helping to raise funds for the JNF and the IUA.

After he qualified as an optician he moved to Roodepoort where he had his practice and he met teacher Sandra (nee Queit) also from the West Rand and they have been married for 49 years and have two daughters, Rene and Lisa. 

It didn’t take long before Barry joined the Roodepoort shul where he immersed himself in Jewish life. He was elected treasurer and then chairman of the now defunct Roodepoort Florida Hebrew Congregation as it was then called. Barry, who was one of the few members who could, recited the maftir almost every Shabbos. He was chairman when the shul celebrated its 70th anniversary. Chief Rabbi BM Casper was the guest of honour and 30 years later, Barry, according to Sandra, single-handedly, with the help of the then Chief Rabbi, organised the shul’s centenary celebrations.

The Geffens moved to Victory Park when their daughters started at King David. They now live at the Oasis, Century City.

Arnold Bloch, chairman of Marais Road Shul, said they wanted to make it a special day for Barry. As he has difficulty walking up the stairs of the Bimah they set up a table and brought the Sefer Torah to him where he recited the brachot for his aliya and maftir which Cantor Ivor Joffe chanted and helped to make the occasion even more memorable.

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