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For the week ending 8 July 2017 / 14 Tammuz 5777

Rabbi Samet Visits Gibraltar

by Rabbi Shlomo Simon
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

Recently, Rabbi Yehuda Samet, shlita, our beloved mashgiach, returned from a trip to the fabled Rock of Gibraltar, also known as “The Guardian of the Entrance to the Mediterranean Sea”. He visited there with his wife at the invitation of the Jewish community.

Gibraltar is a tiny British Overseas Territory located on the tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It was conquered by England from Spain in 1704 in the War of the Spanish Succession. Its inhabitants are full British citizens. The population is about 30,000 and its Jewish population is about 800. In spite of their small number, the Jews are very prominent in Gibraltar. The largest law firm in the colony is Hassan’s, which was founded by Sir Joshua Hassan. Sir Joshua was a Moroccan Jew who later became the first Mayor and later the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, serving in that latter capacity for 20 years, between the 1960’s and the 1980’s.

The Jewish community is noteworthy for the fact that it is a traditional kehillah (Jewish community) with a rav who oversees all the Jewish institutions. Perhaps most striking is the fact that the entire Jewish population is Orthodox. There are four shuls, a Jewish grammar school, boys’ and girls’ high schools, a kollel — and much daily learning taking place in the general community

There are other Ohr Somayach connections. The rav of the community, Rav Chassid, was a chavruta of our own Rabbi Shlomo Wiener, the head of the Center Program. And the Principal of the Boy’s Jewish High School, Rabbi Chanoch Bonchek, is the son of Rabbi Dr. Avigdor Bonchek, one of the first Rabbis of Ohr Somayach.

Both Rabbi Samet and his wife delivered many lectures to the community over the course of a week, including a lecture to about 20 ba’alei batim at a “lunch-and-learn” session that was held at one of the shuls on a work day. Rabbi Samet also had the opportunity to meet with a number of Ohr Somayach alumni there. Danny Rudich, originally from Italy, learned in Ohr Somayach and married a young lady from Gibraltar. He’s a CPA and works for an International Law firm there. Rabbi Samet is happy to report that Danny davens vatikin, and has a full learning schedule. He also met with the brothers Sidney and Levi Gross and a few other alumni.

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