Jewish Affairs - Pesach 2019

This issue includes a special focus on Jewish culture and heritage. It includes contributions on music in the Bible and Judaism in general by Cecil Bloom, the Tu B’Shvat festival, past and present, by Henia Bryer and an overview of the Barmitzvah ceremony and how it has evolved over time by Lionel Slier. Closer to home, the indefatigable Gwynne Schrire has, with much relish investigated the origins, analysed the contents and considered the overall historical context of a late Victorian-era family scrap album which recently came to light in and which her research reveals belonged to the family of Ellia Marks, younger brother of Sammy. Librarian and archivist Juan-Paul Burke has followed up on his Pesach 2018 bibliography listing articles, theses and books pertaining to SA Jewry and Jewish Studies with a similar listing for 2018, together with additional items for the previous listing that have since come to light. In the concluding article of the section, engineer Lyonell Fliss shares his vision for creating an observation tower and heritage centre on Mount Scopus as a way of affirming and publicizing the millennia-old Jewish roots in the Holy City.

Part of the abiding value of Jewish Affairs is that it provides a forum in which the lives, achievements and contributions of former prominent SA Jews to be evaluated and recorded. In the subsection ‘Memoirs and Mentschen’, anti-apartheid activist, author and journalist Paul Trewhela writes on the trade unionist, businessman, philanthropist and Jewish communal worker Morris Isaacson, after whom a famous school in Soweto is named, while Marge Clouts looks at the life-long involvement of her late mother, Sarah Leftwich, in furthering the Zionist cause in South Africa.     

‘Holocaust Echoes’ features the final instalment of Holocaust survivor and educator Don Krausz’s power and unforgettable memoir ‘Child of the Concentration Camp’. A hitherto unpublished essay by the late Solly Kessler, a leading member of the SAJBD in Cape Town, on how the Herschel Grynszpan affair was used to give impetus to the unfolding annihilation of European Jewry followed by Isaac Reznik’s monograph on Kindertransport hero Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld completes the section. Zita Nurok’s factually-based short story ‘A house with stories to tell’ also has a Holocaust theme.

The issue concludes with the editor’s review of The Last Hurrah, Graham Viney’s account of the 1947 Royal Visit to SA and the insights this now largely forgotten episode provides into the general milieu and mind-set of a society (including its  Jewish community) on the brink of radical, unanticipated, political change.

On behalf of the Jewish Affairs editorial board, I wish everyone a Chag Pesach Kasher v’Sameach.

Read the  publication here.

Recent Articles

Above Board 17.1.20

“Mir zaynen do!”(We are here!) The defiant concluding words of the Partisan Song constitute a ringing declaration by the Jewish people that despite the unspeakable crimes of those seeking their destruction, Am Yisrael Chai - the Nation of Israel still lives. They remind us that when remembering those whose lives were so cruelly and unjustly extinguished, we are also testifying that for all the harm they were able to inflict on us, our enemies failed in their aim of eradicating the Jewish people altogether.

Above Board 10.1.20

The SAJBD: Always open for business

While the Board’s work naturally slows down over the December break, it never stops altogether. There are always new issues that arise that cannot be put off but have to be dealt with there and then. These can range from renewed upsurges of violence in the Middle East, incidents of antisemitism and even natural disasters. Following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, for example, we became extensively involved in assisting members of our community along with other South Africans caught up in the tragedy.