The SAJBD is the umbrella representative spokesbody and civil rights lobby of the SA Jewish community. It promotes the safety and welfare of South African Jewry, including combating antisemitism in all its forms, and builds bridges of friendship and understanding between Jews and the broader South African population.
‘Struggle’ activist and political prisoner Norman Levy, who died in Cape Town yesterday at the age of 92, was one of the last surviving veterans of the Congress movement, an alliance of anti-apartheid organisations which in the immediate post-World War years laid the foundations for South Africa’s transition to democracy.
Based in part on her own research, this review essay by Veronica Belling looks at a fascinating new biography of an very unusual Jewish woman
We are delighted to publish an extract from Dominique Malherbe's acclaimed new book on a remarkable Jewish woman and her relationship with one of the icons of Afrikaans literature.
Letter to the Editor of The Star newspaper in response to Redhill Parents and Alumni Concerns Committee intimidation
To the Editor of The Star newspaper
The past few weeks have seen campaigns of intimidation and threats to members of the Jewish community and any other South African who has dared to express a view contrary to the narrow narrative of the anti-Israeli lobby groups. Any hint that there is another perspective to the conflict and that there is any culpability by Hamas has been met with by aggression and demonisation.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies has been dealing with the anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiment in the country, but it didn’t count on the bias it found in mainstream media, explains Charisse Zeifert.
How true a reflection of the Afrikaner-Jewish relationship was the pre-1948 antisemitism of the Afrikaner Press and Politicians? ((Part 1)
Ivan Kapelus considers the respective histories and complex relationship between of two distinct South African communities
Kathy Munro reflects on the life, achievements and lasting influence esteemed architect, architectural historian and heritage activist Clive Chipkin (1929-2021).
The latest compilation by archivist J-p Burke of recent publications of South African Jewish interest.
The SAJBD is delighted to have been able to help Father Georges Bidzogo to distribute food in Durban
This week, St Peter Parish in Durban’s Mahatma Gandhi Road prepared 120 food parcels to distribute to the needy.
We wish our Muslim friends “Ramadan Mubarak". May you have a spiritual and meaningful Holy month.
Dr Israel ‘Boomie’ Abramowitz, who passed away this week in Perth, Australia at the age of 91, was a true gentleman from the old school of Jewish communal leadership in South Africa. In the course of a long and distinguished communal career, he can truly be said to have epitomised the particular strengths that have made the South African Jewish community so respected a component of global Jewry. All this he achieved while simultaneously pursuing his career as an eminent vascular surgeon.
On Sunday night, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) hosted its 50th national conference in Johannesburg. Held every two years, these gatherings are an opportunity for the community to connect to honour members who had done so much either communally or for the greater South Africa – like the late Johnny Clegg, who we honoured this year – but also to take stock of where we are.
People tend to be suspicious of change. As the thinking goes, if things have worked well enough in the past, why not carry on as before? On the other hand, circumstances inevitably do change, and when this reaches a point when the old ways of doing things are no longer sufficiently efficient and/or cost effective, then one is equally inevitably required to adapt to the new realities in order to remain sustainable.
Any visit to the Constitutional Court is a stirring experience. Once used as a prison for political activists, amongst them M K Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, it today serves as a critical vehicle for safe-guarding the fundamental human rights and freedoms on which our post-apartheid society is founded.
Welcome to our American visitors
We had hardly had a chance to (metaphorically) catch our breath after the whirlwind visit of our Women Wage Peace guests from Israel when it was time for us to welcome another prestigious delegation to South Africa, this time from the American Jewish Committee (AJC). One of the world’s most effective Jewish advocacy organisations, the AJC has a long and proud history of building relationships with different religious and ethnic communities and world leaders.
To create lasting peace, women’s voices are critical. Men alone won’t bring about peace and it’s about time that we all realise that. This is not just opinion - it’s in the numbers. From conflict prevention and conflict resolution to post-conflict reconciliation, studies have borne out that women’s meaningful participation in peace processes significantly increases the likelihood of a negotiated settlement lasting longer than 15 years.
Four remarkable Israeli women show the way forward
The main focus of the Board over the past several weeks has been preparing for the visit of a delegation from Women Wage Peace, an Israeli NGO that has brought tens of thousands of Israeli women from across the faith and political spectrum together in the common cause of working for peaceful co-existence between the different peoples in the region. Comprising two Jewish, one Muslim and one Christian women, the delegation has been brought out by the SAJBD in the lead-up to Women’s Day to share the lessons and experiences of this inspiring grassroots movement, while at the same time drawing lessons from South Africa’s own successful experiences in conflict resolution.
Turning back the tide of hate
South Africa is hardly the only democratic country that is grappling with problems of racism, xenophobia and other forms of bigotry. That much clearly emerged during a roundtable discussion on combating hate held under the auspices of the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre this week. Participants included the Centre’s director Tali Nates, SAJBD National Vice-Chairman Prof Karen Milner and National Director Wendy Kahn, former German Minister of Justice Dr Däubler-Gmelin and Shanelle van der Berg representing the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). It was an engaging discussion, but also a sobering one. Throughout the free world, hate crimes are on the increase, with a strikingly high proportion of them - in Europe, North America and elsewhere – being motivated by antisemitism.
Best wishes to SAZF for their conference
The SAJBD and the SA Zionist Federation are often described as being ‘sister organizations’ (although, to take the sibling metaphor a bit further, the Federation is technically the Board’s elder brother, having been founded several years before). While the Board’s core mission is to ensure the safety and well-being of the local Jewish community while that of the Federation is to deal with issues relating to the community’s relationship with Israel, in essence the work of the two organisations is complementary. For that reason, we frequently work together, primarily when our right to identify as Zionists and support Israel is in any way threatened.
Preserving the heritage of SA Jewry
Last week, our National Director Wendy Kahn and Parliamentary Liaison officer Chaya Singer attended several budget speeches in Parliament, including for the Treasury and the Departments of International Relations and Cooperation, Public Enterprises and Home Affairs. It was encouraging to note that the comments by International Minister Naledi Pandor on the Israel-Palestine issue were measured and balanced, and that overall, the debate on the subject were much less vitriolic than in previous years. Hopefully, this will be the case on future occasions when the subject comes up for discussion.
At the time of writing, together with our National Vice-President Zev Krengel, I am in Israel, where we have participated in a number of high-level meetings aimed at providing updates on recent political developments in South Africa, sharing information pertaining to our own community and getting perspectives on the current political situation in Israel. This will form the basis of my next column.
Nahum Goldmann Fellow Programme nurtures Jewish leadership
The recently concluded Nahum Goldmann Fellowship Programme (NGFP), which this year was held in Israel, once again brought together a broad range of up-and-coming young Jewish leaders from around the world for an intensive period of Jewish learning, discussion and sharing of experiences and perspectives. As always, participants found it to be an extremely enriching and inspiring experience, particularly in the opportunities it provided for engaging with Jews from completely different backgrounds.
Yanir Grindler writes for the Daily Maverick "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex enough without the shouting."
Equating Zionism with racism is far too easy a way out of proper debate around the roots of the conflict in the Middle East, and Israel Apartheid Week serves to exacerbate rather than defuse the tensions. The time has come for rational debate in an attempt to find common ground between the two opposing sides, rather than slogan-shouting.
This year, Human Rights Day coincides with the Jewish festival of Purim. While the two events appear to have little in common, in actuality, there are numerous interesting parallels between them. The Purim narrative, based on events recorded in the Book of Esther, abounds with human rights themes.