Yeshivah Gedolah of Johannesburg
Yeshivah Gedolah of Johannesburg was one of the first Yeshivot established in South Africa. Since its founding in 1978, it has played an important - though understated - role in the South African religious community. It is based in Glenhazel, Johannesburg. It was established and headed by Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Azriel Goldfein until his death in 2007, and is now headed by his sons Rabbi Avraham and Rabbi David Goldfein. The Yeshiva accommodates students from across the spectrum of Orthodoxy. The Hirsch Lyons Primary and High Schools are associated with the Yeshivah.
Rabbi Goldfein studied in Telz Yeshiva, under great rabbis who survived the Holocaust, and was a lifelong talmid muvhak (prominent student) of Rabbi Mordechai Gifter. During this time, he developed a "love of and profound knowledge of" the writings of the Maharal of Prague. With his wife Clarice Goldfein, he came to South Africa from the United States in 1972, "with a mission to establish an authentic, world-class yeshiva... for the training of South African rabbis for South Africa", and "Yeshivah Gedolah" was established the next year, originally based at the Yeshiva College of South Africa.
Rabbi Avraham Goldfein studied at Telz in Cleveland for four years. In addition to studying at the Yeshivah Gedolah under his father, where he received semichah he also studied at Yeshivas Netzach Yisroel in Israel. Rabbi David Goldfein completed his schooling through correspondence and learnt under his father from the age of 15.
The Yeshivah's derech (educational model) is built on two main approaches. Primarily, the Yeshivah follows the "Telshe derech", stressing Mussar (Ethics) and Derech eretz (character and behaviour) alongside Talmud study. Secondly, and in complementary fashion, the derech of the Maharal influences the Yeshivah's approach to learning, and more particularly, its Hashkafa ("worldview", beliefs within Orthodox Judaism). Additional to these, there is a further and direct link to the Lithuanian yeshivas: In the 1980s, Rabbi Jacob Symanowitz of the Johannesburg Beth Din, taught the shiur ("lecture") in Yoreh Deah, including to the current Roshei Yeshiva, who subsequently studied with him for several years. He, in turn, had studied in Yeshiva Ohel Torah-Baranovich under Elchonon Wasserman, as well as in Mir and Slabodka and received semichah - Yadin Yadin - from Meyer Abovitz.
Yeshivah Gedolah is known for its "uncomplicated approach to learning" (consistent with the Maharal's approach to Torah study), and for its high standards and thorough semichah programme, requiring that graduates "be talmidei chachamim (Talmudic scholars), and not just religious functionaries".
The Yeshiva has trained dozens of South African rabbis, including Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein. More than 50 shuls, 20 communal organisations and virtually all of South Africa's Jewish day schools have been served by its alumni. The yeshiva also provides learning opportunities and resources to the community. Over the decades, Rabbi Goldfein gave thousands of public lectures, including the very popular weekly Parashat ha-Shavua shiur, more than 1000 of which were recorded and are widely distributed.
A documentary film, Bridging Worlds: The Life and Teachings of Rav Azriel Chaim Goldfein was produced in 2014.
- Slier, Lionel (30 November 2007). "A sad farewell to Rabbi Azriel Goldfein" (PDF). South African Jewish Report. pp. 14–15. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
- Goldstein, Warren (7 December 2007). "Rabbi Azriel Goldfein - teacher, mentor, rabbi" (PDF). South African Jewish Report. p. 7. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
- Rudomin, Yitschok (12 December 2007). "Harav Azriel Goldfein, z"tl: South Africa's Rosh Yeshivah". Hamodia. p. C26.
- “This derech is manifest in both the Talmudic lomdus (scholarship) and derech avoda (practice) in Machashava ("Jewish thought") and Mussar practiced in the Lithuanian Telshe… a system unified and consistent across all areas of thought, analysis and endeavor.” Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer, 120 Years Since the Founding of the Yeshiva.
- Hartman, Yehoshua. "The Maharal: His Approach, His Innovations and His Position as a Teacher of Posterity". Jewish Action. Orthodox Union. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
- See Leon Feldberg, Editor. (1965).South African Jewry: A Survey of the Jewish Community, Its Contributions to South Africa, Directory of Communal Institutions, and Who's who of Leading Personalities. Fieldhill Publishing Company.
- Memorial article[dead link]
- Rabbinical Council of America List of Approved Yeshivot