Raised In The Congo, She Will Now Start Up Chabad In Ivory Coast

Amnon Razin
Devorah Leah and Rabbi Yerah Bensaid are transferring to Ivory Coast to open Chabad-Lubavitch's most recent station in Africa.

She grew up in the Congo.The following is via Chabad.org: Devorah Leah Bensaid has lived in the Central African city of Kinshasa, Congo, for many of her life. She was 3 months old in 1991 when her parents relocated to what was then called Zaire to develop Chabad-Lubavitch of Central Africa, maturing blocks away from the majestic Congo River and amidst the periodic civil war. Different, you may state, from the life of a common Chassidic woman anywhere else worldwide.

For her, Africa is home. "Africa is all I understand, "states Bensaid."The individuals get along, the Jewish community

is close and safe. I like it here."She remembers exactly what is in some cases called the 2nd Congo War, in 1998, when as a 7-year-old lady she and her household took the last aircraft out of the nation that August. "I do not remember being frightened, however you could feel the stress in the nation. The streets were empty."

Her family returned to Congo, however experienced other periods of instability later. However, as a Jew she never ever felt scared. "Congolese people are extremely friendly and great," states Bensaid. "They enjoy Jews and have constantly respected us. We feel comfortable as Jews in this country."

Now, with her Paris-born husband, Rabbi Yerah Bensaid, the young mother of two is preparing to open Chabad-Lubavitch's latest outpost on the continent: Later on this year the Bensaids will move to Abidjan and develop Chabad of Ivory Coast. Their center in West Africa will be the seventh long-term center under the umbrella of Chabad of Central Africa, joining the neighboring nations of Ghana and Nigeria. A center opened in Uganda at the end of 2017, and one in Tanzania previously this year.Ironically, with

a three-and-a-half hour flight connecting Abidjan and Kinshasa (albeit just 3 times a week), Devorah Leah Bensaid's new home won't be all that far from her old one. Beyond the advantage of understanding what life is in fact like in Africa, Bensaid states she will make use of the lessons she discovered in Congo, where she watched her moms and dads, Rabbi Shlomo and Miriam Bentolila, construct a dynamic and caring Jewish community.

"The example I take a look at is my mother. She developed a beautiful Hebrew school, where children discovered how to check out and write Hebrew, and celebrate Shabbat and all the Jewish vacations in a warm environment," she says. "I hope that my children and all the children of the Jewish community in Ivory Coast gain that exact same sense of Jewish pride and enthusiasm."

Later this year the Bensaids will transfer to Abidjan and develop Chabad of Ivory Coast.Rabbi Bensaid, who initially checked out

and consulted with Jewish community members in Ivory Coast several months back, says the former French nest(also understood as Côte d'Ivoire )is a growing place, drawing businesspeople and financiers from around the world. The Jewish community numbers between 200-300 people, a mixture of Israelis, Americans and Europeans-- specifically French Jews-- who are associated with a host of companies, from facilities advancement to oil and gas to products."We are looking for a suitable place to open Abidjan's very first synagogue which will also serve as the base of Chabad activities,"he says."Eventually our top concern will be to build a mikvah."

Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila in the 1990s with his child, Devorah Leah.Three Years of Chabad Rabbi Bentolila, was a young rabbinical trainee when he initially went to Ivory Coast back in 1988, which was likewise his very first time in Africa. He and another yeshivah student invested a week in Abidjan as part of the Merkos Shlichus rabbinical visitation program, likewise known as Roving Rabbis, a journey which saw them check out six countries in all, and paved the way for the opening of an irreversible. At That Time Ivory Coast's Jewish neighborhood was larger, and they even arranged a large gathering to mark the completion of the study cycle of Maimonides'Mishneh Torah, went to by 125 people. 3 years later on, by this time wed, Bentolila settled in Kinshasa, and has actually preserved a strong relationship with the Ivorian Jewish community since and regularly helping them.

Ivory Coast, shown here as Côte d'Ivoire, will be the home of the seventh permanent center under the umbrella of Chabad of Central Africa.Fueled by quick

facilities advancement, a large Jewish neighborhood thrived in Abidjan starting in the 1960s, and by 1973 there was even a Jewish day school, which at a point drew 300 children. Igael Cohen was born in Abidjan in 1973 and recalls those days warmly, but, he states, the majority of people left in the early 1990s when the nation ended up being less and less stable. After growing up in Ivory Coast, where he participated in the Jewish school, Cohen resided in France for a time, before returning to Abidjan in 1994. Jewish life there, he says, has actually benefited greatly from the close attention it has actually received from Chabad of Central Africa. "I know Rabbi Bentolila for several years.

He checked out typically and he 'd send yeshivah trainees from all over the world for all the Jewish holidays," he states. "It is constantly an extremely soulful experience, and brings me and everybody here great joy. "Previously, Ivory Coast was one of 11 African

countries without an irreversible Chabad center serviced by Chabad of Central Africa. Another one is the Republic of Congo(instead of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Bentolilas live), which is where Efraim Meslet initially can be found in contact with Chabad on the continent. Initially from France, Meslet and his family immigrated to Israel 15 years earlier, but he has actually been doing organisation in Africa given that 2011. Before coming to Ivory Coast he was spending a couple of weeks of on a monthly basis in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo. While simply across the river from Kinshasa, it is a world away."It is an insane adventure to cross the river," he states.

The Jewish neighborhood there attempted arranging regular activities, however would always get an increase when boys with matzah got here for Passover or menorahs and donuts for Chanukah."I saw their capability to find Jews lost in the jungle. It was fantastic. "Taking the Jewish Community to the Next Level Now in Ivory Coast,Meslet states a long-term Chabad presence will permit

the Abidjan Jewish community to go to the next level."I think it's really needed," he says of the Bensaids impending arrival. "They will offer us a place to collect; we require a great Jewish house. And I believe more and more people will come here if we do have that. " L to R: Rabbis Shlomo Bentolila and Rabbi Yerah Bensaid Amnon Razin is among the pillars of the Ivorian Jewish neighborhood. Like the others, he too remembers the impact Chabad had upon another small neighborhood he once called house. In the 1970s, after the capture of the Sinai from Egypt in 1967, he lived in and was secretary of the small town of Neviot, now Nuweiba, in the Sinai peninsula. One issue the community dealt with was the absence of standard Jewish education their children faced, that is, till volunteers from Chabad of Eilat, some 80 kilometers north, began visiting the town and teaching their children." They were fulfilling an important job there, and we all valued it quite, "Razin states."I think the same thing will happen here. The neighborhood is not very huge, however when somebody is far from their country, away from their culture, you end up being thirsty for these things, for Torah, for custom. So Chabad is going to bring what we really are missing. "< img src= https://cdn.theyeshivaworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/RwpP10582522.jpg alt width= 685 height=513 > The previous French colony (also known as Côte d'Ivoire) is a growing place, drawing businesspeople andDemocratic Republic of Congo

financiers from around the world.Razin, who initially concerned Ivory Coast to work on changing the nation's motorist's license system from a paper one to a credit

card sized biometric type, and has actually considering that proceeded to other tasks, also notes the growing variety of chances in Ivory Coast. He says that more Israelis are being drawn to Africa in general because of the new markets starving for innovation and other items and services.There is also a sense that the current stability Ivory Coast has enjoyed will stick, and many French companies have begun returning and reinvesting in the nation, a good sign. The progress will eventually be put to the test throughout the next elections, slated for 2020."I have a great opinion on exactly what is going on,"states Cohen." This felt really much like the correct time to send out permanent emissaries to Ivory Coast," says Bentolila, who likewise credits the recent rise of long-term emissaries in Central Africa to the assistance of Rabbi Moshe

Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch."It's a Little Paris, a gorgeous little country, and our company believe its future-- Jewish and otherwise-- is an intense one." "Congolese individuals are very friendly and good,"states Devorah Leah Bensaid. "They love Jews and have actually always appreciated

Devorah Leah
us. We feel comfy as Jews in this nation." The Jewish neighborhood numbers between 200-300 people, a mixture of Israelis, Americans and Europeans-- especially French Jews-- who are involved in a host of businesses, from infrastructure development to oil and gas to products. (Source: Chabd.org)