Shaun Zagnoev

Above Board 16.8.19

The guiding ethos of the AJC is not only to further the safety and well-being of world Jewry, but also to find ways in which Jews can contribute to global peace and prosperity. Every year, an AJC delegation visits a different part of the world to meet with the local Jewish community and engage with leaders and opinion-makers over political, economic and regional challenges, including antisemitism. This year they are visiting South Africa and Mozambique and the SAJBD has partnered with them in organising the itinerary. In the course of this week they have met or will be meeting with the Jewish community leadership, government officials, senior political figures (including a past president), academics and business leaders.

The Board has a very close and cordial working relationship with the AJC going back many years, in large part thanks to the unstinting support of Stan and Marian Bergman. Stan and Marian left South Africa way back in 1976, but they have never forgotten their roots and remain meaningfully connected to the country and its Jewish community, including through their generous support for local universities. A past president of the AJC, Stan was also instrumental in the establishment of the AJC’s Africa Desk. It has been a pleasure to welcome them back to South Africa, together with the other distinguished members of the delegation, and we thank them for helping our community remain a connected, relevant and indeed respected component of global Jewry.

University exams and Yom Tov

With the Three Weeks of mourning culminating in Tisha B’Av now behind us, just six weeks remain of the present year before the commencement of the main Jewish festival season. It is around this time that the Board is particularly called upon to address problems of university exams being set on the chaggim. As anticipated, a number of UNISA students have already contacted us concerning scheduling clashes, and no doubt other will be brought to our attention in the coming weeks. Working closely with the relevant institutions, we have in the past fortunately been able to resolve nearly all problems of this nature, but in order for us to continue doing so, we rely on the students concerned to inform us about their situation in good time. Those with scheduling clashes who have not yet informed the Board are therefore strongly advised to do so as soon as possible by writing to

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We were saddened to learn of the passing on Friday of our treasured friend and esteemed colleague Goldie Goldsmith. For over forty years, Goldie worked for the SAJBD in various capacities, primarily as administrative secretary of the Board’s journal Jewish Affairs as well as of its Afrikaans language publication Buurman which appeared during the 1970s and early 1980s. She was well into her eighties when, by her own choice, she decided to finally retire.

Sad passing of Michael Schneider

The SAJBD mourns the passing of Michael Schneider, a great Jewish South African who risked his life in the fight for justice in his country of birth and went on to render outstanding service to global Jewry. Schneider died in New York aged 83 last Shabbat from complications of diabetes. As one of the world’s foremost Jewish communal leaders and professionals at the time of his retirement in 2011, he was secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, although the greater part of his career was spent working for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, one of the premier global Jewish relief organisations.