The SAJBD

SAJBD ADVISORY

by The SAJBD on 30 October 2014

in Media, Notices

ADVISORY
The South African Jewish community will be holding a demonstration against rising antisemitism and intimidation in our country. There has, over the past few months been an escalation of levels of antisemitism and hate speech against members of the Jewish Community. This has included direct verbal threats, anti-Jewish grand-standing by political and civil society leadership, as well as physical threats of violence through social media. The climate has been created that led to the crossing of the line last week, with the placing of a pig’s head in what was thought to be the Kosher meat section of Woolworths by the Congress of South African Students (COSAS).
The demonstration will be held on Thursday 30 October, from 12:00 – 13:00, outside the Woolworths Corner Main Road and Fort Road (opposite Mr Price), Cape Town.
Members of the Jewish Community, and fellow- South Africans who stand for the values as enshrined in our Constitution will come together to say that Hate Speech in this country, irrespective of which minority it is directed at, will not be tolerated and accepted. Nor will South African Jews be intimidated by this rising form of racism.
South Africa has traditionally had low rates of antisemitism compared to other countries. Alongside all South Africans, including fellow minority groups SA Jewry has been able to affirm their own cultural and religious beliefs, whilst simultaneously fully identifying with South Africa, and what it stands for. It is for this reason that the Jewish Community, and like-minded South African will take to the street and highlight this growing and worrying trend.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies yesterday lodged a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission against COSAS and their Western Cape Provincial Chairperson Siphakamise Ngxowa for their antisemitic demonstration and hate speech.
This protest seeks to highlight the un-South African nature of this act by Cosas, and to uphold the South African values of tolerance and inclusiveness.
SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn will read out a statement calling for South African solidarity against hate.
We invite the media to attend.
For more information, please contact: Charisse Zeifert on 082 427 2788

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Press Release

by The SAJBD on 26 May 2014

in Articles, General, Media

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) has conveyed its outrage over this cold-blooded act of terror, as well as its deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the Belgian Jewish leadership. It further calls on the Belgian authorities to do their utmost to bring the perpetrator to justice, as well as to take whatever measures that are necessary to combat hate crime, whether based on race, religion or any other such grounds.

The SAJBD is likewise deeply troubled about the near-simultaneous attack that took place on two Jewish worshippers outside a synagogue in Paris on Saturday night. One of the victims was severely injured after being struck in the eye with brass knuckles. As with the Brussels atrocity, this appears to have been a completely unprovoked attack against those singled out solely because they were Jews.
As pointed out by European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor, “attacks on Jewish targets in Europe do not exist in a vacuum, but are part and parcel of an overall climate of hate and incitement against Jewish communities”. The SAJBD shares this concern over the steadily rising levels of antisemitic hatred in Europe, which today increasingly threatens to take a violent, and even lethal form.

Ends.
For more information please contact Mary Kluk on 083 7758618

Issued by
Charisse Zeifert
Head: Communications
South African Jewish Board of Deputies

 011 645 2547 (direct) or 082 427-2788 (mobile)

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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 that they were registered. We went on to host a number of well-attended functions, including multi-party pre-election debates in Johannesburg and Durban, for community members to hear from and engage with senior representatives of some of the major parties contesting the election. The Make Us Count campaign culminated in the Board’s putting together a multi-faith, trans-national election observer team, with accreditation from the Independent Electoral Commission, to assist in monitoring the voting process and ensuring that everything was fair and above board. This was an inspiring success, and attracted much favourable coverage for the Board and for the Jewish community in general in both the local and overseas media. Around a hundred volunteers from across the religious and ethnic spectrum took part, covering over 250 voting stations in five cities.

All participants I have since been in contact with have expressed the tremendous sense of pride and satisfaction they experienced in being able to contribute in this way. We are very proud that the SAJBD facilitated this very special nation-building exercise, and I congratulate in particular Alana Baranov for heading it up so capably. Watching South African democracy at work was again an inspiring experience. One could not help but be struck by the warm spirit of camaraderie and sense of ownership in the wonderful democracy that we all enjoy. It was a spirit that transcended political affiliation, and made the elections – just like those memorable first elections twenty years ago – a truly unifying experience.

Currently, I am attending the American Jewish Congress (AJC) conference in Washington DC, along with six other South African representatives from the SAJBD. Representatives of some seventy countries are taking part in this important event on the international Jewish calendar. As always, it is an exhilarating experience to join with world Jewry in debating issues of concern to all of us. Over the years, we have established a much-valued partnership with the AJC, who have consistently supported us in times of both challenge and celebration. I look forward to reporting back more fully on the conference after my return.

One of the very complex matters our National office has been dealing with this year has been resolving problems of exams set on Shabbat and Shavuot. Fortunately, it now looks very much like acceptable alternative arrangements will be in place at all the academic institutions concerned, with students, as in years gone by, being able to write their papers immediately after Shabbat/Yom Tov at Beyachad. I will go into further detail regarding these arrangements in a future column, but I can say at this stage that henceforth, rather than having to renegotiate a solution on a year by year basis, we hopefully now have in place an ongoing arrangement that all religiously observant Jewish students will be able to avail themselves of when clashes occur.

• Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00-13:00.

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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 survivor of Auschwitz whose mother later married Anne Frank’s father, Otto. On Wednesday, she also spoke at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre. One of the themes stressed by speakers at this year’s events was that this year marks the seventieth anniversary of the start of the Holocaust in Hungary, in which over 400 000 Hungarian Jews were murdered within a few months.

Schloss recounted how for many years after the war, she had not spoken about her experiences, and how since the 1980s she had increasingly dedicated herself to doing so. On the first occasion she spoke, she had been shocked to be told by a young Israeli in the audience that she and her fellow victims had gone like sheep to the slaughter instead of fighting back. This, she said, had helped inspire her to testify and educate people regarding the terrible realities of the Nazi genocide, and the helplessness to which its victims were reduced.

Like Anne Frank, whom she had known and been friendly with before the war, Schloss (born in Vienna to Erich and Fritzie Geiringer) survived in hiding in Amsterdam for a lengthy period before, after two years, she and her mother were betrayed and arrested. Her father and brother, Heinz, had by then been sent to the Mauthausen in Austria, where they died just days before the camp was liberated by US forces. Eva and her mother were sent to Auschwitz, where new arrivals were processed and sent either to work in Auschwitz or to immediate death in nearby Treblinka. Because she was wearing her mother’s hat and coat, the fifteen year-old Eva looked older than she was, and hence was selected by Josef Mengele for the former. Somehow, she and her mother survived for nine months before one day waking up to find that the Germans had abandoned the camp, taking most of the inmates with them. A few days later, the Soviet troops arrived to liberate the camp.

Schloss spoke movingly of her lost brother, a gifted musician, poet and artist whose paintings made whilst in hiding she was able to recover after the war. She concluded her address by reading one of his poems, which appears in her recent book The Promise and which she wrote in his memory to keep the promise made by his father that he would live on in the memory of those who knew him.

In Johannesburg, messages were delivered both by Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk, Hungarian Ambassador Bela Laszlo. The latter stressed the Holocaust had been a tragedy for the entire Hungarian people and further acknowledged and apologized for the fact, long suppressed, that the Hungarian government of the time had cooperated with the Nazi administration in the deportations and murders.

******note : EVA SCHLOSS left a few signed copies of 2 of her books in our offices, if you would like to purchase these please contact Jenni on 0116452521, stock is very limited.

 

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