The SAJBD extends its sincerest condolences to the all members of the Bernhard family, the Union of Orthodox Synagogues and the Chabad community on the passing of Rabbi Norman Bernhard, ztl. A man of many gifts and boundless energy, Rabbi Bernhard arrived in South Africa a little under half a century ago and quickly established himself as one of the country’s most dynamic Jewish leaders and spokesmen. As a religious leader, he was amongst the foremost innovators in the field of Jewish education, both at the school and adult level, and contributed significantly to the impressive growth of Judaism both in Johannesburg and elsewhere in the country. As a congregational rabbi, he served for well over three decades as spiritual leader to one of the city’s leading communities, the Oxford Hebrew Congregation. He further held important leadership positions with the UOS structure.

Rabbi Bernhard’s involvement in Jewish communal life went well beyond the religious sphere. In the media field, he was a frequent guest on radio discussion programmes, bringing to bear his trademark wit, eloquence and erudition in explaining Judaism and Jewishness to a wider audience. He also wrote regularly for Jewish and general publications in this regard. Rabbi Bernhard was also one of only a handful of Jewish religious leaders to have spoken out against the injustices of the apartheid system from the pulpit, and maintained a keen interest in encouraging Jews to be involved in the political transition process. Long before it became common practice, he ensured that his community was involved in general social upliftment projects on behalf of the needy in the wider community.


Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday wished South Africa’s Jewish community a happy Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

“On 24 September [Wednesday], Heritage Day, the Jewish community will be gathering in their homes and synagogues to usher in Rosh Hashanah,” Zuma said in a statement.

“It is a time both of solemn introspection and joyous renewal, of looking back and learning from the year that has passed while celebrating and gathering strength for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

“We commend our Jewish citizens for continuing to foster and live by their age-old traditions whilst at the same time fully identifying with and contributing in multiple ways to the building of our young democracy.”

Zuma said it was fitting that Rosh Hashanah commenced on the evening of Heritage Day, the public holiday through which South Africans celebrated their cultural diversity in a spirit of friendship and unity.

“Ours is a country where the different backgrounds – religious, cultural, linguistic or otherwise – are not merely tolerated but wholeheartedly affirmed,” the president said.

“We wish our Jewish citizens well over the Fast and may all have a successful New Year.”



In his meeting with the leadership of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) last week, President Jacob Zuma reiterated his government’s support for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian question, and further saw a role for South Africa to play in bringing this about.

The SAJBD sees itself as partners with Government and the ANC in helping to promote peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. We therefore feel extremely disappointed by the ANC’s recent call for a boycott against Israel. This will not result in bringing about peace to the region but will only cause polarisation and division within our own society.

In reality the main target of this boycott is South African Jewry.  We have already seen how the importation of the Middle East conflict into this country by anti-Israel agitators has resulted in hostility and intimidation, including threats of violence to our community.

Some of those expressing such views, moreover, have come from the ranks of the ruling party, and even more frequently from its alliance partners. When the world’s only Jewish majority state is singled out for one-sided condemnation and punitive action over and above every other nation in the world, it inevitably fosters a culture of hostility towards Jews in general.

The ANC’s call for a boycott further undermines our Government’s encouraging attempts to play a role in the peace process, something it is pursuing through their Middle East envoys.

This notwithstanding, the SAJBD remains committed to supporting a negotiated, two-state solution to the conflict, and will not be cowed by those, whether within the ANC or elsewhere in this country who wish to deny the Jewish community its right to identify with the Jewish homeland.  We therefore call on the ANC to play a constructive rather than destructive role in helping to realise our common goal of a sustainable peace in the Middle East.



Yesterday evening, the leadership of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) met with President Jacob Zuma and members of his Cabinet at his Mahlamba Ndlopfu Residence in Pretoria. The SAJBD briefed the President on the sharp rise in antisemitic activity in South Africa, including threats and intimidation against the Jewish community and its leadership. The Israeli-Palestinian question and ways in which South Africa could assist the parties in reaching a long-term peace settlement was also discussed.

In the course of the meeting, President Zuma rejected unequivocally all forms of antisemitism and intolerance, and stressed that his government remained committed to combating such prejudice. He further emphasised the need for there to be harmony between people of different backgrounds and opinions in South Africa.

On the Palestinian-Israeli question, both the President and the SAJBD expressed their support for the two-State solution of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peaceful co-existence and reiterated South Africa’s willingness to support all sides to find a solution.

The SAJBD welcomes President Zuma’s firm assurances that his government will not accept antisemitic bigotry and intimidation, and fully endorses his belief in the importance of maintaining harmony between South Africans of diverse backgrounds.

The SAJBD also endorsed the government’s NDP programme and pledged the assistance of the Jewish community in its implementation.

The meeting took place in a very warm and constructive atmosphere, and the two parties have agreed to meet in the near future to take the discussions further.

President Zuma was accompanied by the Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Ministers in the Presidency, Mr Jeff Radebe and Ms Susan Shabangu and DG in the Presidency Dr Cassius Lubisi. The SAJBD delegation was led by Zev Krengel (President) and Mary Kluk (National Chairman) and included Jeff Katz, Raymond Goss, Eric Marx and Wendy Kahn from the SAJBD and Jonathan Silke and Ben Swartz from the SAZF.



Sep 19, 2014 at 07:43 AM




President Jacob has this evening, 18 September 2014, met with the leadership of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies at his Mahlamba Ndlopfu Residence in Pretoria.

The President was accompanied by the Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and the Ministers in the Presidency, Mr Jeff Radebe and Ms Susan Shabangu.

The SAJBD delegation was led by its President, Mr Zev Krengel.

The meeting discussed issues affecting the South African Jewish community as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The SAJBD raised sharply their concern about anti-Semitic statements that have been made recently in the country.

President Zuma emphasised government’s abhorrence of anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance.

On the Palestinian-Israeli question, the President expressed unequivocal support for the two-State solution of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peaceful co-existence and reiterated South Africa’s willingness to support all sides to find a solution.

The SAJBD also reiterated their support for the two-state policy and emphasised the willingness of the SA Jewry to support government in the quest for solutions in the Middle East.

President Zuma acknowledged the important role played by the Jewish community in the struggle against apartheid and the transition to democracy.

The meeting agreed that Government and the SAJBD would have ongoing dialogue to promote understanding and cooperation. The two parties will meet again soon to take the discussions forward.

Enquiries: Mac Maharaj on 079 879 3203 or
Issued by the Presidency



The ugliness and intolerance of BDS SA

18 September 2014

Wendy Kahn writes on the group’s bullying protest outside of the SAJBD Gauteng’s twenty years of democracy conference Celebrating SA democracy free of Intimidation In the early days of our young democracy, South Africans embraced the image of the rainbow – the beautiful spectrum of colours that would stand together celebrating the diversity of their […]

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Jewish Affairs Rosh Hashana Special focus on 20 years democracy

17 September 2014

We are pleased to report that the latest (Rosh Hashanah, 2014) issue of Jewish Affairs has now appeared. The special focus of this issue is on this year’s 20th anniversary of democracy in South Africa and how it has affected, and been influenced by, the Jewish community. The editor’s historical overview of the transition years […]

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Jewish community extends condolences to Nigeria on the Church Disaster

17 September 2014

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies, on behalf of the Jewish community, extends its sincerest condolences to the people of Nigeria on the Synagogue Church of All Nations disaster and to the many South Africans who have lost family, friends and loved ones as a result. This is a tragedy for the entire continent, but […]

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16 September 2014

At the time of writing, I am participating in the Governing Board meeting of the World Jewish Congress (WJC)  in Berlin. The intention of hosting the meeting in Berlin was to show solidarity with the local Jewish community, which is experiencing a renewed upsurge of hatred against them. We began our visit to Berlin by […]

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Positive vibe at SAJBD conference

15 September 2014

Despite a strong focus on the upsurge of antisemitism as a result of the Gaza conflict and the presence of anti-Israel demonstrators outside the venue, Sunday’s SAJBD Gauteng Council conference, with its theme of South African Jewry twenty years into democracy, had a largely positive focus. Speakers, including Michael Katz and Colin Coleman, emphasised how […]

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Mary Kluk and SAJBD condemn vicious Holocaust blog

12 September 2014

One of the most objectionable recurring themes in the flood of anti-Israel invective provoked by the Gaza conflict was the ready comparisons made between Israel’s actions and the crimes of the Nazis. It goes without saying that those resorting to such terminology were not attempting to present a reasoned, fact-based argument; rather, the aim was […]

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