JOHANNESBURG (JTA) — A rabbi handing out matzah and wine for Passover to Jews in Zimbabwe was attacked by a swarm of African killer bees.
Moshe Silberhaft, the spiritual leader and executive director of the African Jewish Congress known as "The Traveling Rabbi," was making a pre-Passover visit to the 190 Jews left in the beleaguered capital of Harare when he was attacked by the bees while walking from the Ashkenazi synagogue to the Sephardi synagogue on the Shabbat of April 2.
The rabbi was being accompanied by the Ashkenazi synagogue’s Torah reader, Yosi Kably.
“They suddenly swarmed on us from nowhere, buzzing around our heads and in our ears," Silberhaft said of the bees from the hive located under a wooden pole. "We didn’t even hear them coming.”
After being stung repeatedly the two men ran into traffic, pounding on car windows, but no one would risk opening their windows for fear of letting in the bees. Passers-by attempted to help by spraying the bees with a poison and setting a tire alight to smoke them out.
Silberhaft and Kably called for help and were taken to a private doctor’s clinic, where they received adrenaline, oxygen, antihistamines, cortisone and painkillers. Some of the stingers were pulled out one by one by the doctor and assistants.
The rabbi returned to Johannesburg with stingers still on his head, nose and hands, as well as in his ears.
Silberhaft, a regular visitor to Zimbabwe and other sub-Saharan African countries, was visibly upset at missing the service and was saddened that the incident occurred on Shabbat.
“Africa is not for sissies,” he said.