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JCC MetroWest Takes on South Africa

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Author: Ruth Ross

After 15 hours in the air, 27 JCC MetroWest travelers began their six-day tour of South Africa. A guided tour of Cape Town included a cable car ride to foggy, rather spooky Table Mountain overlooking the city; the Cape of Good Hope, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, and a visit to the Cape Point light house. We also visited the Kirsten Bosch botanical gardens where we saw unusual flora native to the Cape province; and Boulders Beach, where we watched a colony of Cape penguins frolic, completely oblivious to human presence.

A Visit to District 6

A native guide took us to the distinctive multicolored houses of Bo-Kaap, home of the slaves brought from Malaysia and Indonesia by the white settlers. We toured District 6, a previously mixed-race area bulldozed by the apartheid government for whites only; the District 6 Museum provided physical evidence of this inhumane event. A highlight of the day was a visit to Langa, one of the “townships” inhabited by the city’s native population. There, at a middle school, we were entertained by singing and dancing students just before they left for a day at the beach.

Enriching our Bodies & Spirits

Picturesque Stellenbosch featured a wine tasting at an award-winning vineyard and a sampling of the cheeses they manufacture there, followed by a visit to Gold, a native restaurant, where we received drum lessons and ate native foods. Memorable Erev Shabbat services at the progressive Temple Israel were followed by a dinner where we conversed with the congregants, many of them descendants of Lithuanian Jews.

Safari & Civil Discourse

At Kruger National Park, we embarked on high trucks driven by native naturalists for an entire day of animal sightings: giraffes, a regal male lion, many elephants, wildebeasts, baboons, buffalo, impalas and guinea fowl, among others. Our trip ended with a visit to Pretoria, South Africa’s capital, with its huge statue of Nelson Mandela and majestic government building.

Returning Home

After another 15-hour plane ride, through which most of us slept, we disembarked to a cold, gray day in the U.S., still filled with the excitement of visiting a country much like our own, but different.

JCC MetroWest is going to take on South Africa…again! From January 28-Feburary 5, 2020, we’ll explore Cape Town and Kruger National Park. Visit our website for more information, or contact Sharon Gordon for more information: (973) 530-3480 or [email protected].