Last Shabbat we celebrated a magnificent Simcha with two of our most precious congregants: Mick and Sonya Leiman. And the Simcha? Their 70th wedding anniversary!

LeimansMick (98) and Sonya (93) (neé Raymond) were married in Johannesburg on 19 August 1945. Speaking at a recent celebratory lunch attended by 60 of their family and friends, younger daughter Brenda Abelkop recalled how at their wedding the couple didn’t have a wedding cake. “After all, it was at the end of World War II and things were hard to come by. Both Sonya and Mick were in the South African Army. She was a Staff Sergeant – with three stripes – and Mick a mere Sergeant with only two stripes. She out-ranked him … and she has never let him forget it!”

The couple have three children Ken Leiman, Janice Barnard and Brenda, and six grandchildren: Ken and his son David live in KwaZulu-Natal; Janice and her husband David live in New York; Brenda and her husband Stephen live in La Jolla, California; while granddaughters Layla lives in Johannesburg; Caroline in New York; Sarah in London; Julia in Miami and grandson Guy lives in San Diego.

Holding back tears at the sight of their family and friends gathered in celebration, Sonya said: “It was absolutely fantastic to have our entire family – both blood and acquired – in one room to help us celebrate this wonderful milestone.”

Ida Harman (neé Sonnenberg) was also an honoured guest at the luncheon, having been at the couple’s wedding 70 years ago. Another guest at the celebration, and a member of the Bet David congregation, Madeleine Hicklin, spoke about how wonderful it was to have ‘another set of parents’ with her in shul every Shabbat morning. “Unfortunately, both my mother and father have passed on, but Hashem has blessed the Bet David family with Sonya and Mick – who many of us have ‘adopted’ as our parents.

“We are thrilled to have such a wonderful, caring and loving couple as part of our congregation every Shabbat morning. Mick and Sonya are active members of the congregation and love coming to shul as much as we love having them there.”

Because Sonya and Mick missed out on a cake at their wedding, fellow congregant Monica Solomon baked them a three-tier wedding cake for the milestone anniversary. The couple cut the cake at the end of the luncheon – to much applause and cheering from their ‘wedding guests’. Said Solomon: “It was such an honour and a privilege for me to make a cake for a couple who is such an inspiration to the entire congregation.”

Founded in 1971, Bet David is a Progressive Jewish congregation, based at 3 Middle Road in Morningside, under the leadership of Rabbi Adrian Michael Schell and Rabbi Julia Margolis. The shul is a warm, welcoming, and inclusive congregation that invites individuals and families of all observance levels to worship and learn with them. When you open the doors to Bet David, you’ll find a community that’s as vibrant and evolving as you are. You’ll discover a diverse congregation engaged in social issues, culture and learning – a congregation rediscovering Jewish values that give meaning and provide a strong foundation to face the challenges of contemporary life.

Madeleine Hicklin

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