Rabbi Yossy Goldman came from South Africa to our Jerusalem studio for a nice chat about being a great rabbi in Johannesburg.

A big picture dominates the studio, showing the rabbi with Nelson Mandela, and that is where I begin my interview - the meeting between these two men and what his thoughts are on this iconic figure.

Rabbi Goldman has a very relaxed manner about him, he talks softly and puts you at ease, he is funny and serious at the same time. What I most enjoyed is his dedication and desire to educate the new generation of rabbis coming up, and leading them in how to write and deliver a great sermon for their future congregations and synagogues.

"Do not start with, 'In this week's parsha..., 'cause you already lost your crowd!' he says to me, smiling. "You have seven seconds to capture a crowd," he continues. That is his theory, and seems like it works, as he is known as a rabbi who gives some of the best sermons in the world.

Today, Rabbi Goldman’s synagogue sermons are considered among the finest in the Jewish world.

Rabbi Goldman was born in New York but has been in South Africa since 1976. He originally came to South Africa at the behest of the revered Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, obm, to serve as Founding Director of this country’s very first Chabad House back in Yeoville.

During his ten years there, he initiated many successful services which have become institutions in Johannesburg’s Jewish communal life. These include Gan Yisrael Day Camp, a Festival of Lights with the giant menorah, Lag Ba’omer parades, and more. He founded and presented The Jewish Sound radio program every week for 24 years. In 1983, he helped found the Torah Academy Shul and served as its first rabbi.

In 1986, with the Rebbe’s guidance, he accepted the invitation to become the rabbi of the iconic Sydenham Shul, where he is now Life Rabbi Emeritus. He is now the longest-serving rabbi since the Shul was established in 1943. Since coming to Sydenham, he has devised a range of educational programs and activities, which have captured the enthusiastic interest of his community. A popular public speaker with an endearing sense of humor, he is guiding hundreds of families on their spiritual expedition through living Judaism.

Many of his articles have been published online with the international website chabad.org, and are today being translated into Hebrew, Spanish, Russian, and even German. He is in great demand as a public speaker and has delivered many important addresses in South Africa, the USA, Europe, and Australia. He lectures extensively on a wide range of subjects, including Kabbalah, the study of Jewish mysticism.

Many shluchim (emissaries) still talk about Rabbi Goldman’s outstanding keynote address at the Kinus Hashluchim back in 2002.

Rabbi Goldman is author of From Where I Stand, Life Messages From the Weekly Torah Reading, published by KTAV Publishing, New Jersey, USA in 2012. He is President of the SA Rabbinical Association, having served as its most successful chairman for 12 years. He is also a member of the Board of The Torah Academy school in Johannesburg. Rabbi Goldman has served as a member of the Religious Broadcasting Panel of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and often represents the Jewish faith on radio and television.

He obtained semicha (rabbinic ordination) in Montreal, Canada, in 1973 from the Rabbinical College of Canada. Among the signatories was the late Chief Rabbi and Head of the Montreal Beth Din, Harav Hagaon Rav Pinchas Hirschprung, obm. He was also Rosh Machaneh (camp leader) of Camp Gan Israel of Canada in 1972.

Rabbi Goldman and Rochel (nee Kazen from Cleveland, Ohio) were married in June 1973 and are the proud parents of 11 children and, baruch Hashem (thank G-d), a growing number of grandchildren.

They are particularly proud that their children are serving as the Rebbe’s shluchim and as communal activists around the world.