Jewish Affairs - Chanukah 2016


Whereas the Rosh Hashanah issue of Jewish Affairs 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

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Gauteng on the threshold horrific xenophobic violence

Gauteng appears to be on the threshold of yet another outbreak of horrific xenophobic violence against foreign nationals. Already, there have been serious incidents of arson and looting targeting immigrants in both Johannesburg and Tshwane, while tensions are being further heightened by an upsurge in inflammatory rhetoric, particularly on social media.

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