Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, The Travelling Rabbi’s Insulting Lie That Still Hurts

Justice for Mom, After Insult by Rabbi, by Melanie Nathan, May 20, 2023.

I was shocked when my attention was drawn to a page in the Book, “The Traveling Rabbi: My African Tribe, by  Moshe Silberhaft’s – an autobiography of so called “Traveling Rabbi” Moshe Silberhaft’s book about his purported work in Africa. Silberhaft writes that Professor Carmen Nathan’s family approached him to have her remains exhumed to be reburied in a Jewish graveyard.  This is an out and out lie. A disgusting and offensive lie… read on…

As a divorced woman at the time of her passing, the only immediate family of Professor Nathan, are her two children, Melanie Nathan and Steven Nathan. Her late mother Rose Miller passed away two years after Carmen. Carmen also was survived by a sister and brother. Not one of these family members ever asked that Professor Nathan’s body be exhumed, for any reason whatsoever, AT ANY POINT IN TIME, least of all requesting it be moved to a Jewish graveyard. As far as the family is concerned Carmen was already buried in a Jewish sacred space, as explained hereinafter.  If anyone else in the family had even made such a suggestion, which is impossible, why would Silberhaft not fact check with the actual adult children, extremely visible via search engine, the heirs and decision makers of the late Carmen Nathan? Unless of course he was aware of the lie and had an agenda? ! And where was his co-author and Publisher in their fact checking?

Carmen Nathan death
Press upon death of Carmen Nathan


I am now of the belief that there was a motive for this lie. A self serving motive. After all it seems the Rabbi has some business going on exhuming Jews and moving them elsewhere. Or is he just pissed off ! Does he think that her Jewish body, in his estimation, is in “the wrong place?” Not according to our Rabbi Zeidan who performed the burial and all rites. If you check out Silberhaft’s Facebook page you will see he puts lot of effort into moving bodies around and dealing with Jewish graves on African soil. While all seemingly so noble, how can I trust anything he puts out there now – I can only wonder after this experience, so insensitive to us the family of Carmen, and to the wishes of Carmen, herself, even after he was told… read below…

The Rabbi’s lie is extremely painful to me. For a number of reasons. Firstly it is an insult to the memory of my late mother whose dying wish was for a Tswana – Jewish Burial. And what better way to honor her than to have the President of Bophuthatswana, Kgosi Lucas Manyane Mangope, offer our family the most revered honor of burying our mum in the graveyard for the Royal Family and Chiefs of the Tswana People, in recognition of her devotion to and work with the Tswana people.

Even in our grief and in compliance with Judaism for a quick burial my brother and I were able to find a Rabbi to help sanctify a portion of the Royal Tswana Graveyard, Jewish.  My Mom got her wish. My mom was buried by a Rabbi and community in a fully Jewish rite burial. Over 4,000 people attended her funeral.  We felt honored and at home among the Mangope family to have our mom buried with such honors and in such scared space. Not in one million years would we have entertained the idea of moving her body at any point at time. That remains the case. In fact we went back a year later and had a ceremonial unveiling, consecration of her Tombstone, with inscribed Jewish rite as seen in the picture further on in this article.

Carmen Nathan's Funerla in Motswedi - Tswana Jewish Burial in Royal Chief Grave yard
Carmen Nathan’s Funerla in Motswedi – Tswana Jewish Burial in Royal Chief Grave yard

Given what this meant to us and what it meant to the President, the Mangope Family, and the Tswana people, the spreading of the falsity that any of us may not want our mom buried there, is a great and defamatory insult.  For the Mangope family to think we asked for that is not only a painful insult, but an interference in the relationship between our families that is either negligently or perhaps intentionally divisive, unquestionably tortious and unholy.

I was terribly upset that this assertion by Rabbi Silberhaft would serve to insult the President, and the Tswana people. I was mortified that the lie is inscribed in a published book that lives on to perpetuate the lie, the insult and the hurt.

After finding out about this publication and seeing the very pages on Amazon as the excerpt used- which may have since been removed, I contacted Silberhaft and asked him to retract his comments and publish an apology. He did neither.

President Mangope helps Carmen Nathan's daughter place the soil in her mother's grave according to some Jewish Tradition, Motswedi Royal Chief Grave yard.
President Mangope helps Carmen Nathan’s daughter place the soil in her mother’s grave according to some Jewish Tradition, Motswedi Royal Chief Grave yard.

I had a Facebook exchange with Silberhaft, where I made it clear to him that at no time did we THE FAMILY OF CARMEN NATHAN ever express a desire to have her body exhumed and buried elsewhere.  So at this point he cannot deny knowing this. This means that now he knows FOR SURE that we did not request what is clearly reflected as a lie in his book. He took no action that I am aware of except BLOCK me on Facebook – after I drew his attention to the solution I was offering him, as reflected in this email, screenshot , that I sent to him in 2018. He ignored me and never apologized, never remedied and never responded at all.

Melanie Nathan and her mother/ Carmen Nathan's unveiling of tombstone in August 1991 Consecration
Melanie Nathan and her mother/ Carmen Nathan’s unveiling of tombstone in August 1991 Consecration

“A Mother and a friend to all, whose selfless commitment to justice has imparted a legacy abundant in love, compassion and wisdom.  Deeply loved,  sorely missed and always remembered by her daughter, son, mother, sister, brother, family and friends. May her dear soul in rest in peace.”

ABOUT RABBIS SILBERHAFT’S BOOK: Here GOOGLE – let this be seen – to mitigate the lie!

The Book – The Traveling Rabbi by Rabbi Moshe SilberhaftSuzanne Belling, et al. | Jan 1, 2013, Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd, South Africa,

Rabbi Silberhaft is still profiting from this book that disparages my Mother's memory.
Rabbi Silberhaft is still profiting in 2020, from this book that disparages my Mother’s memory.

The excerpt on Amazon abut the author of a Book  reads as follows: “Tracing the journeys of the man who has become known as the “Travelling Rabbi,” this book highlights Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft’s invaluable work in Africa, from caring for the graves of the forgotten and performing wedding ceremonies to providing kosher food and religious insight to various communities. Including numerous stories about real people—some tragic, others humorous, but always fascinating—this memoir is a celebration of the resilient people he encounters and provides a permanent record of the Jewish communities and personalities who would otherwise be forgotten.” ” About the Author Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft is the spiritual leader of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ country communities department and the African Jewish Congress. His territory encompasses 13 countries, including the entire African continent south of the Sahara as well as the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar and Mauritius. Suzanne Belling is a veteran journalist, a Jewish communal professional, and a former editor of the South African Jewish Report whose writing has appeared in publications that include the Chicago Jewish News, the London Jewish Chronicle, and the Times of IsraelCommonwealth Chief Rabbi Lord (Jonathan) Sacks is the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Jerusalem Prize and the Ladislaus Laszt Ecumenical and Social Concern Award, and he was knighted and made a life peer of the House of Lords as Baron Sacks of Aldgate in the City of London. 


Here is the screenshot of MELANIE NATHAN’s  2018 EMAIL:

Rabbi Silberhaft lied about my Mom Carmen Nathan's burial place
Rabbi Silberhaft lied about my  family’s wishes regarding my Mom Carmen Nathan’s burial place…

I am waiting for your apology Rabbi Silberhaft.
President Mangope awards the Order of the Leopard to carmen Nathan
President Mangope awards the Order of the Leopard to carmen Nathan


Remembering Carmen:

“Carmen Nathan will be remembered as a loving mother, a brilliant lawyer and an academic who contributed much to legal thought in Southern Africa in particular, and an idealistic and tireless worker who devoted a large part of her life to the under-privileged members of her community.” SAS STRAUSS

Prof Carmen Nathan Honored in Speech by SA Deputy Minister of Justice – https://wp.me/pqRPa-7pi

Human Rights Advocate Honored Carmen Nathan – https://wp.me/pqRPa-7oS

In Memoriam Carmen Nathan | Published in The International Journal of Medicine and Law – https://wp.me/pqRPa-1Ru

Human Rights Lawyer
May 2023.

EMAIL: commissionermnathan@gmail.com

Melanie Nathan, Country Conditions Expert witness for LGBTQ Africans seeking asylum in the U.S.A.
Melanie Nathan, Country Conditions Expert witness for LGBTQ Africans seeking asylum in the U.S.A.




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