Jewish Affairs - Chanukah 2016


To view the latest Jewish Affairs issue online click here Jewish Affairs - Chanukah 2016 - PDF - 7.69MB).

Whereas the Rosh Hashanah issue concentrated on the South African Jewish community and its history, to mark the community’s 175th anniversary, this issue has a more general focus, with articles looking at aspects of, amongst other themes, Diaspora Jewish history, Israel and the Holocaust. Veteran contributor Bernard Katz adds a new instalment to his “A Brief Journey through….” series of skilfully crafted potted histories of major European Jewish communities, this time looking at the Jews of France. The stirring, and little-known story of the formation of specifically Jewish military units to fight the Nazis is recounted by Barbara Rigden’s Rabbi B M Casper and the formation of the Jewish Infantry Brigade in World War II. Honey Gluckman  tackles the broader subject of Judaism and modern science, looking what many see as being a growing congruence between modern-day scientific discoveries and traditional Jewish teachings. 

There remain several items of South African Jewish interest, however. They include Philip Krawitz’ engaging overview of leading Jewish businessmen, who combined economic success equally with impressive philanthropic efforts, Karen Marshal’s appreciation of her late sister, the eminent sculptress Naomi Jacobson, and the first part of Stuart Buxbaum’s life of his uncle, Dr Hartwig Buxbaum. The latter deals with Buxbaum’s early life in pre-World War II Germany, and the sombre circumstances that compelled him and other close family members to flee their homeland and settle in South Africa. Zita Nurock’s short story ‘Holocaust Echoes’ deals with the lingering legacy of the Shoah.

The book reviews primarily deal with items of South African Jewish interest, including Ralph Zulman’s appraisal of a newly-released biography of iconic radio personality John Berks. New poetry is contributed by Charlotte Cohen, Pamela Heller-Stern and Rodney Mazinter. 

Eugene Delacroix’s famous 19th Century painting of a Jewish wedding in Morocco was chosen as this issue’s front-cover image because of its relevance to the article ‘The Farhud vs the Nakhba’ by former Israeli diplomat Zvi Gabay. The article describes the still little-known saga of how the de facto ethnic cleansing of Jewish communities in Arab-speaking countries that took place in response to the Zionist movement, particularly after the birth of the State of Israel. Also on an Israel theme, Rodney Mazinter provides a useful summary of Benjamin Pogrund’s important study, Drawing Fire: Investigating the Accusations of Apartheid in Israel.

On behalf of the editorial board of Jewish Affairs, I wish all our readers a productive, and safe, December break.

David Saks, Editor

Recent Articles

A day in THE LIFE. Getting down to business with the SA Jewish Board of Deputies

When my children were in primary school, they had no idea what their Mum did as a job.  I didn’t fit in the mould as a doctor, lawyer, speech therapist or teacher.  When it came to careers’ day in grade 2 they asked me to come in and talk to the kids but my talk was met with blank stares.  I never handed out surgical masks or Nandos burgers. I was just a lady with a complicated story. 

The reality of Israel APARTHEID WEEK. Exposing the anti-Semitism of the BDS

I have no illusions about `Israel Apartheid Week’ (IAW) being an antisemitic hatefest with BDS and their cohorts dressing up as human rights activists and using this platform to spew hatred against SA Jewry.

What struck us this year was how hard the BDS folk tried to convince the public that IAW wasn’t antisemitic. It was definitely a case of `the lady protesteth too much’.  One of the opeds on this theme, which appeared in the Sunday Tribune on the eve of IAW, was by SA Jews for a Free Palestine activist Sheila Barsel, who dogmatically dismissed our claims of antisemitism as being not `accurate’. 

Lessons we can learn from the Holocaust

It is remarkable that, seventy two years after the Holocaust, a seemingly never-ending amount of new material on the tragedy continues to emerge.  Surely by this time, the history of this period, should have already been told.  Yet, on an almost daily basis, new stories are coming to light and fresh research (thanks in large part to the recent opening of Eastern European archives) is being undertaken.  New books are being written, while educators are constantly looking for ways to ensure the Holocaust is never forgotten.