At a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture held in Mexico on June 27th, South African Marlene Bethlehem communal stalwart, spanning over fifty years of service, was unanimously elected as President of this prestigious organization.
The outgoing President Professor ISMAR SCHORSCH said the following: “Marlene’s international perspective, rich organizational experience, deep understanding of the Memorial Foundation, abundant wisdom and grace will be of inestimable benefit to the foundation.”
Marlene has been associated with the foundation for many years and has been instrumental in fostering close and mutually beneficial relationships with the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, which she represented.
In thanking the organization Marlene started by quoting from a significant South African proverb saying ” Ubuntu, ungumuntu,ungabanya abantu” which means people are only people through other people. In the context of the Memorial Foundation I am only accepting this enormous honour because of the wonderful people of this foundation, who I have been proud to work with over very many years. With deep regard to the learned Rabbis present I now quoted from Perkei Avod chapter 4.1 ” Ben Zoma asks Who is honored? He (or she) who honors others, as it is said: “For those who honor me I will honor.” “It is therefore my great privilege to honor the Past President, board of trustees and the professional staff of the Memorial Foundation and to thank them for the enormous trust placed in me. I hope that I will be able to carry on the outstanding commitment of the dedicated leaders who have served the Foundation with great distinction in the past.
The salient feature of the Memorial Foundation that excites me is the new emphasis in our work which is the development of the social capital of the Jewish people, its communal, cultural and professional leadership. We need competent and committed young leaders to deal with the new sociological realities and challenges that our communities are facing. It is vital that we make sure that there is continuity of purpose around the world to maintain the lofty ideals that we nurtured for fifty one years. Having had the privilege of being present to meet the fellows at this year’s program I am confident that our future is in good hands”.
Yesterday evening (20 June), the Cape Council of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies held a colloquium to discuss whether women solo singers should be included on the programme of Yom Hashoah, the annual Holocaust commemoration ceremony in remembrance of the Six Million Jews who died at the hands of the Nazi regime. Certain individuals within the Jewish community have taken the SAJBD to the Equality Court on this issue. The litigants were invited to the colloquium, but did not attend.
The colloquium was the culmination of efforts to allow Jewish community representatives to air their views and engage on an issue that has affected them deeply. Those in attendance represented a broad spectrum of the community, including women’s and youth groups, and Orthodox and Progressive representatives. The process was formalised and given further impetus when business leader and experienced negotiator, Bobby Godsell, agreed to chair it. Godsell stressed that he had done his due diligence in regard to the meeting, ensuring that he had a full list of the Cape Council’s affiliates as well as an invitation list to ensure all sectors of the Jewish community had been invited to attend. All present, representing the vast majority of affiliate organisations of the community, were given the opportunity to either make formal presentations or add to the debate. The debate, while discussing a hot topic, was held in an atmosphere of respect and understanding
Indeed, the tone for tolerance and constructive engagement was set by Godsell, who urged the participants to take the South African way, and listen to each other to find solutions. He noted in his opening comments that “understanding what we agree on is more important than what we disagree on, we search for shared beliefs”.
Godsell is currently drawing up a report on the meeting in which, based on the discussions that took place, he will make observations and suggestions regarding how the Yom Hashoah ceremony might be observed in the future.
The SAJBD recognises the diversity and heterogeneous nature of our community. It believes that the community has been strengthened through the process of open but always respectful debate and looks forward to receiving Godsell’s report.
Issued by the Cape Council of the SAJBD
Wendy Kahn writes for The Times: “Tide Of Time Washes Up Healing For All.”
View the full article here.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has made a submission for this year’s Constitutional Review, focusing on issues of ‘hate speech’ and how the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) could be made more effective in addressing them.
The SAJBD is of the view that racist hate speech is of itself damaging, and this is not fully covered by the current definition. Rather, the SAJBD believes that at present, definition is overly narrow since it proscribes advocacy of ‘hatred’ only when coupled with ‘incitement to cause harm’. The SAJBD, in its submission has argued that the mere airing of unacceptable views results in ‘harm’, even when harm is not explicitly advocated.
Furthermore, while the SAHRC plays a critical role in enabling members of the public to seek redress when they feel that their right to dignity has been infringed, the section dealing with its powers and functions makes no reference to the right to dignity, and the SAJBD suggested that this be remedied