Members of the Jewish and Japanese communities, diplomats, business leaders and Holocaust survivors packed into the Abe Abrahamson Auditorium at Beyachad last Wednesday to remember Chiune Sugihara, the heroic Japanese diplomat who exceeded his authority to issue 6000 life-saving visas to Jewish refugees during World War II. The event took place under the combined auspices of the SAJBD Gauteng Council, Embassy of Japan and Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre. Amongst those famously saved from almost certain death at the hands of the Nazis by Sugihara were most of the members of the Mir Yeshiva, which was able to relocate to Shanghai for the duration of the war. Four of those present at the function were Johannesburg descendants of those survivors, Rabbis Yossy Goldman and Weinberg and Rebbetzins Rochel Ehrman and Chaya Sternstein.

In her message of welcome and introduction SAJBD Diplomatic Liaison Aviva Moses, who headed up the initiative, stressed the enduring example Chiune Sugihara had set by his heroic actions. In ‘a period of utter desperation’, he had stood out and shone through the fundamental humanity he displayed, and in today’s turbulent times, it was a lesson the world at large needed more than ever to take to heart.

“No matter what continent we live on, our world is in turmoil. We are bombarded on a daily basis with news of torment, terror, death and destruction. And there has never been a time when is has been more important for every individual to rediscover his or her humanity, because without this intrinsic component of our being, what are we?” she said.

The keynote address was given by Hugh Raichlin, a well-known and popular speaker on Jewish life in countries throughout the world and who recently added Japan to the growing list of places he has lectured on. In addition to speaking (with accompanying audio-visual material) on the life and achievements of Sugihara, Raichlin gave an overview of the Jewish connection to Japan since the 1860s combined with entertaining insights into the nature of Japanese society today. As depicted by him, Sugihara emerged as a genuinely saintly man who to the end refused to take any special credit for what he had done. Raichlin also stressed the unfailing support provided by Sugihara’s wife, Yukiko, and the crucial involvement of the family of the young Solly Ganor. Excerpts from a video interview with the latter especially arranged for the occasion were also screened.

Rabbi Goldman and Rabbi Weinberg spoke about their own fathers, both of whom were provided with visas by Sugihara. Rabbi Weinberg said that his father, the only one of eleven siblings who survived the Holocaust, would relate his story to his family on the first night of Chanukah every year. This had instilled in his children an awareness of how important it was to remember and be grateful to their benefactors. Similarly, Rabbi Goldman’s father was the only survivor of his family in Poland. On his behalf, as well as that of his descendants – amongst them nearly eighty great-grandchildren, Rabbi

“I thank you for the gift of life, for the gift of the generations. G-d bless Mr Sugihara’s precious soul” he said.

Messages were also given by Japanese Ambassador Yutaka Yoshizawa, SAJBD Chairman and Holocaust educator Mary Kluk and Tali Nates, Director of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre. Ambassador Yoshiwaza noted that in Japanese culture, it was at this time of the year that the spirits of one’s ancestors were believed to return, and therefore it was a time when those who had passed away were traditionally remembered. This included remembering both the two million Japanese who had died during World War II together with acknowledging the death and suffering Japan had inflicted against others during those years. Against this background, he said, the legacy of Sugihara shone even brighter.


‘Hitler got it right’ goes multiracial

A posting by Rene Smit, an obscure ANC party worker in the Western Cape, quickly went viral when it emerged that it sang the praises of Adolf Hitler for killing off the Jews and intimated that had been retro-actively justified by the behaviour to date of those Jews who survived. The post featured a picture of Hitler assuming a visionary pose, was headed “Yes man, you were right … ” and followed by the words “I could have killed all the Jews, but I left some of them to let you know why I was killing them”. Readers were exhorted to “Share the truth with the whole world”. To this, Smit herself added the words “Free Palestine!!”

The ANC itself dissociated itself from Smit, saying that she was not an employee of the party and was posting in her private capacity. Fair enough. Why, though, did ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe pointedly decline to condemn and dissociate his party from the content of the post itself?


Read the article here:


Click on the link to view David Sacks’ opinion piece SAJDB pdf_01


SAJBD and SAZF Strongly Deplore and Condemn ANC Statement regarding Situation in Israel

10 July 2014

  The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) deplore and condemn in the strongest terms the statement on the current conflict in Gaza issued earlier today by ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte. Such naked invective is something one expects to find only on the more extreme wing of […]

[read more]

SAJBD issued a statement regarding antisemetic incident toward American Jewish business and communal leaders at the AU Commission Summit in Equatorial Guinea

9 July 2014

Following an antisemitic incident concerning a group of American Jewish business and communal leaders at the AU Commission Summit in Equatorial Guinea, the SAJBD liaised with Malcolm Hoenlein for a full briefing on the occurrence. The SAJBD issued a statement regarding the incident and wrote to the Chairperson of the AU Commission Dr Dlamini Zuma […]

[read more]

Press Release

26 May 2014

On Saturday afternoon, an unidentified gunman went on a murderous shooting rampage in the Jewish Museum in Brussels, killing four people. There can be little doubt that the museum was targeted specifically because it was a Jewish institution, and that the attack was an antisemitically motivated hate crime. The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) […]

[read more]


20 May 2014

Five months ago, under the heading ‘Make Us Count’, the Board embarked on a serious of initiatives aimed at encouraging the Jewish community to become involved and in general get into the spirit of the upcoming national elections. It began with a drive to encourage first-time voters, as well as those living overseas, to ensure […]

[read more]


2 May 2014

Earlier this week, the annual Yom Hashoah ceremonies took place under the auspices of the SAJBD in all the main Jewish population centres. The ceremonies in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth took place on Sunday and in Cape Town and Durban the following day. The keynote speaker in Johannesburg and Durban was Eva Schloss, a […]

[read more]

Jewish community leadership meets with DA and ACDP

2 May 2014

With the country’s 5th elections since the democratic transition less than a fortnight away, the Gauteng Jewish leadership had the opportunity last week of hearing from two of the parties likely to between them attract the bulk of the Jewish vote. On Thursday evening Jack Bloom, leader of the DA in the Gauteng Legislature, headed […]

[read more]