Events

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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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 a delegation of mainly Jewish city counsellors that met with representatives of a range of Jewish organisations at Beyachad. The following day, it was the turn of the ACDP, represented by the party’s Chief Whip in Parliament, Cheryllyn Dudley. The meetings took place under the auspices of the SAJBD, which earlier this year arranged for Minister Fikile Mbalula to address a Jewish youth gathering on behalf of the ANC.

Bloom said that the success of the DA’s record in the Western Cape was one of the main planks of its campaign. Under successive DA administrations, the Western Cape had been a model of good governance, in contrast to the corruption and mismanagement that was rife in the remaining, ANC-led provinces. Voters, many of whom were of the ‘born free’ generation and therefore less influenced by the apartheid and ‘Struggle’ legacy, now had it in their power to extend this successful record to other parts of the country. To break the ‘ridiculous’ syndrome of people toyi-toying against bad service delivery one day and voting for the government the next, the DA was saying to them, “Lend us Your Vote” to give it a chance to meet their requirements. Given the extent of government corruption and its dire impact on economic growth and job creation, the DA needed to get as much support as it could so as to save South Africa. It had, Bloom said, become as urgent as that.

Both events included a focus on the Israel-Palestine question. It was accepted, that the DA’s traditionally measured and nuanced policy on the matter had not changed at all. However, it was suggested that there was a disconnection between official DA policy and implementing it when issues arose at parliamentary level. The party had failed, for example, to oppose measures aimed at boycotting and delegitimising Israel, such as in the BDS-inspired cancellation of South Africa’s participation in an agricultural conference there. Bloom said that better communication was needed to convey the party’s true position to the community. He nevertheless pointed out that at the recent International Relations Parliamentary Portfolio Committee discussion on the outcomes of the Solidarity Conference on Palestine, the DA had not only helped ensure that the final declaration adopted was a greatly watered-down one, but had even joined with the ACDP in still voting against it.

In introducing Dudley at the following day’s lunch meeting, SAZF Vice-Chairman Ben Swartz described the ACDP as having been, often to their own detriment, the “greatest and truest friend of the Jewish and Zionist community in South Africa”. Dudley observed that by providing the Jewish community with another option, the DA had been made to realize that it could no longer take its support for granted. In the course of her presentation, she outlined the philosophy and modus operandi of the ACDP as a Christian, Biblical-based party that nevertheless had to be realistic in terms of what could practically be achieved. In a democratic society, nobody could be compelled to follow Christian-Biblical precepts, but by the same token, government did not have the right to impose secularism on the population, such as in interfering with the way religious communities chose to bring up their children. Dudley rejected the argument that voting for the smaller parties was a wasted vote, pointing to the many successes the ACDP had been able to achieve in influencing government policy and as an honest broker in facilitating constructive debate when this was so often paralyzed by the bitter rivalry between the ruling party and the official opposition.

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3With the elections now just two months away, the ANC has embarked on a “Suburbs Outreach” communications initiative aimed at making contact and engaging in dialogue with various minority constituencies around the country. On Monday evening, it was the turn of the Johannesburg Jewish community, with Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalule addressing a gathering of “Young Jewish South Africans” at the premises of Capricorn Capital in Sandton. The event took place under the auspices of the SAJBD, with the welcome and introduction being given by Gauteng Council member and Capricorn Capital Director Robbie Fihrer.

Mbalule focused on such issues as good governance, combating corruption and transformation, particularly in the area of sport. Regarding the question of Israel and Palestine, he said that while there were areas of disagreement between the ANC and the Jewish community, it was important to ensure that there was continual dialogue between the two on those issues. Pointing out that he had himself visited Tel Aviv, he reiterated his party’s stance that the way forward in the region was a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

During the question and answer session, SAUJS national chairperson Ariella Carno asked how the ANC’s official policy on Israel could be reconciled with its having just endorsed the forthcoming Israel Apartheid Week campaign, the aim of which was not to promote dialogue and peace initiatives, but rather to demonise Israel and oppose any kind of engagement with it. Mbalule skirted the question, instead reiterating his party’s support for negotiations as the way forward to end the conflict.

Mbalule was also asked whether South Africa would be taking a stance on behalf of Uganda’s LGBT community in light of anti-gays laws that had recently been introduced there. His reply, to the effect that South Africa did not interfere in the internal policies of other countries, elicited ironic rumblings and comments of “Except for Israel” from the audience.

Notwithstanding these areas of disagreement, the evening’s exchanges were generally cordial and respectful. Afterwards, Mbalule remained behind to engage with individual audience members who wished to ask further questions.

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Wendy Kahn & Jenni Fearnley, SAJBD attended this tribute at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto. The event was well attended by Women’s Church Groups and prayer messages were delivered by the Muslim, Jewish, Bahai, Hindu and SA Federation of Churches to the audience.

VIP’s at the event included Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, Gauteng Premier / Ms Baleka Mbete, National Chairperson of the ANC, Ms Nandi Mayathula-Khosa, MEC Social Development & the Major of Johannesburg, Clr Parks Tau. The atmosphere and unity of all attending was vibrant and moving.

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Wendy Kahn delivered the following message :

I feel truly humbled to be included in this very meaningful and moving women’s interfaith prayer event.  It is particularly special to pray with fellow South African women from other faith communities.  Women uniting in prayer brings such strength.

Almighty G-d

We are gathered here today to remember our beloved President Nelson Mandela, who has been gathered to his people under the shelter of Your eternal Sanctuary. It is, for all South Africans, a time of sorrow, but also a time of thanksgiving. We mourn the passing of Tata Madiba, but we also render thanks to You for his presence among us.

Seldom has history seen a leader of such stature arise – a man of courage and compassion, wisdom and vision, a man who remained humble and accessible to all his people, despite being lauded the world over. In Your great mercy, you gave us Nelson Mandela, to guide us from our times of trouble to ones of hope, from division to unity, from fear and anger to reconciliation.

We pray that the family of Nelson Mandela be comforted in their time of painful loss. We pray, too, that those entrusted with the solemn task of leadership in South Africa be accorded the wisdom, strength and compassion to fulfil their duties and that in doing so they be inspired by the example of the one in whose footsteps they are walking. And may all South African likewise absorb into their hearts and minds the lessons inherent in how Nelson Mandela lived his life, and strive to live their own lives accordingly.

Almighty G-d, in whose Hands are the souls of all the living and the spirits of all flesh, we render humble thanks for the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. May his memory be a blessing, and may that memory inspire us and all generations to come to emulate the example he set for us.

 

Interfaith ladies

Interfaith ladies

 

 

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SAJBD & SAZF LEADERS AT NELSON MANDELA MEMORIAL SERVICE, FNB STADIUM

11 December 2013

    Zev Krengel, Mary Kluk and Wendy Kahn from SAJBD accompanied by Avrom Krengel, Ben Swartz SAZF, at FNB stadium yesterday  

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JEWISH COMMUNITY MEMORIAL SERVICES FOR NELSON MANDELA

6 December 2013

Dear Community Members We are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved Nelson Mandela and together with our fellow South Africans we mourn this loss. Please find below the statement that was released to the media earlier this morning: “The Jewish community of South Africa mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela, beloved father of […]

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South African Ambassador to Israel Lights a Candle of Hope for Disabilities in Israel

5 December 2013

  In honor of  International Disabilities Day – which this year coincides with Chanukah – South Africa’s Ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngmonbane, lit a Chanukah candle of hope at Beit Issie Shapiro with Yoav, a child with intellectual disabilities, and had high praise for Israeli innovation at Beit Issie Shapiro, Israel’s leading disabilities organization.   […]

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70th Anniversary of the holocaust in Hungary. Holocaust commemeration event with SAJBD, JHGC & the Hungarian Embassy

11 November 2013

The SAJBD Gauteng Council hosted an evening with the Hungarian Embassy and JHB Holocaust & Genocide Centre to commemorate the beginning of the year commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust in Hungary. November is also the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. This featured an evening of traditional Hungarian food such as Hungarian Goulash and Cucumber & […]

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SAJBD National Director Presents at ADL Conference in Washington DC

9 May 2013
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Holocaust Survivor Rena Quint – Inspiration to all South Africans

11 April 2013

Over the past week, Yom Hashoah ceremonies were held under the auspices of the Board in all the main Jewish population centres. In addition, and possibly for the first time ever, a ceremony was held in Grahamstown as part of a visit by a delegation from the Board, SAZF and SAUJS to meet with the staff and students of Rhodes University […]

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