Leon Levy’s Inspiring Legacy

At the 2015 SAJBD National Conference, we were privileged to honour Leon Levy for his lifetime of devoted and courageous service to the struggle for justice in South Africa. Amongst other historic developments paving the way to non-racial democracy, Mr Levy was centrally involved in the pioneering of independent trade unions, the Congress of the People and the Treason Trial. He is one of the many brave, principled South Africans who, at great personal risk and with much self-sacrifice, were instrumental in replacing an oppressive, racially discriminatory regime with freedom and equality.

Only a handful of anti-apartheid veterans are still with us, and while we still can, we must make every effort to engage with them, listen to their stories and learn from their life experiences. This is particularly true of the “Born Free” generation, who never lived under apartheid, and for whom democratic rights have always been taken as a given. Later this week, the Board will be bringing Mr Levy up from Cape Town to speak to our Jewish day school learners about his experiences. For the young adults in the community, who will soon be taking their place as responsible citizens in society, it will be a rare opportunity to connect in a tangible way with  our country’s past, and hopefully this experience will long be remembered. 

We can be very proud of the fact that so many of those who fought the apartheid system came from the ranks of the Jewish community. Rather than simply patting ourselves on the back for this, however, we should take to heart the example they set and be inspired to take their work forward. Amongst other things, Jews should look to once again become involved in South African politics, and in this way play a meaningful role in addressing the many challenges that face our country. This is as important today as it was when people like Leon Levy chose the path of political activism, and essential if we want to do our part in ensuring that South Africa continues to succeed.   

Recent Articles