Morality provision removed from Jewish prayer after Ramaphosa replaced Zuma - Chief Rabbi

With allegations of state capture flying thick and fast under former president Jacob Zuma's rule, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein felt something had to change in the prayer for government that is recited at synagogues across the country during every Saturday morning service.

He decided to change the Prayer for the Republic of South Africa last year to include a section on morality.

"With Zuma being president, I was not able from a moral point of view to pray for his welfare any longer, so that is why the wording was changed," he said on Thursday.

Speaking to News24, he said they reverted back to the original version as soon as Cyril Ramaphosa was elected president of the country.

Ramaphosa heard the prayer for government when he joined Rosh Hashanah celebrations at the Gardens synagogue on Wednesday night.

It was a full house and he received bursts of applause during the event.

"As part of one of the traditions of Judaism, we pray for the welfare of the president, deputy president and government, that God should guide them and their work should be blessed for the sake of the country," Goldstein explained.

State capture a real threat

Last year, a section was added to state: "Bless us with a president who is morally worthy of this nation of heroes, a president and government of integrity and honesty, dedicated with selfless devotion to the service and upliftment of all the people of South Africa."

Towards the end of Zuma's rule, Goldstein felt a distancing from the presidency and had joined in marches calling for his resignation and an end to state capture.

He felt state capture was a real threat to the future of the country, and he could not stand by the "sheer immorality" of a few people stealing from millions of people and causing human suffering.

Ramaphosa's address on Wednesday invited the Jewish community to work with government in its drive for investment and job creation.

He also sought to allay fears about land reform and assured that his government was fighting corruption.

He added that South Africa stood ready to play a constructive role in the peace process in the Middle East.

Reacting on Thursday, Goldstein said they welcomed the speech.

"It was full of warmth, energy and positivity, I think a bit of South African magic."