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. Nor is this necessarily a bad thing in the long term. Even if certain worthy aspects of an organisation’s work have to be sacrificed, new ways of doing things also create fresh and exciting new opportunities.
In the course of this year, the SAJBD has reviewed and restructured two long-standing services it has provided to the Jewish community since the 1940s. One is the assistance provided by its Country Communities Department (CCD) to the small, geographically isolated Jewish communities in maintaining their connection to Judaism and to the mainstream community. As previously reported in this column, this process culminated at the end of June in a decision by the various stakeholders to establish a new independent body – to be called the Small Jewish Communities Association - to carry out the Department’s work in future. This body, ably headed up by Kimberley’s Barney Horwitz and with the ongoing involvement at every level of the esteemed Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft in ensuring that the core work of the CCD continues, is already at an advanced stage of being implemented. The SAJBD is committed to working with and supporting the smaller communities to ensure a smooth transition.
The second SAJBD community service that has, more recently, been revamped is Jewish Affairs. Launched in June 1941 as a monthly information bulletin, this soon established itself as South Africa’s leading Jewish historical, cultural and current affairs journal. In common with all publications, particularly those of a more academic, niche-market nature, it became increasingly apparent that it would have to adapt to how people communicate, and publish, today. Earlier this year, therefore, the editorial board took a decision that henceforth, Jewish Affairs will appear in a new electronic format adapted for a modern-day readership and that this will replace the traditional printed version.
We are pleased to announce that, just in time for Rosh Hashanah, the new online format of Jewish Affairs is up and running and that the first online issue has now appeared. To read this and future issues, go to https://www.sajbd.org/jewish-affairs. All issues from Pesach 2009 to Pesach 2019 can also be freely accessed on the main SA Jewish Board of Deputies website. I invite you all to become online subscribers to Jewish Affairs. Signing up is free and enables you to receive regular bulletins and updates. Just send your name and email address (and mobile number too if you would like to be included in a JA whatsapp group) to firstname.lastname@example.org (copying) email@example.com.
This being my final column before Rosh Hashanah, on behalf of the SAJBD, I wish everyone a Shana Tova Umetuka.