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 A hitherto unpublished essay by the late Solly Kessler, a leading member of the SAJBD in Cape Town, on how the Herschel Grynszpan affair was used to give impetus to the unfolding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

Jewish Life July 2019

Keeping an Eye on Things

Reflections and stories from my experience as an election observer.

Elections are a special time.  They bring with them optimism, excitement, and new horizons.  In our country they symbolise hard fought for and cherished free talking to fellow South Africans whom we would normally never meet, while waiting in a queue to vote.  We laugh together, moan and commiserate about the long wait, but also reminisce about the magical 1994 election.  It is a great leveller.

Above Board 27.7.19

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. 

Above Board 11.7.19

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.