Media

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.

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

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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 to protest the treatment of the Jewish group asking for a full investigation.  She responded on Friday that the issue was raised at the post Summit meeting, an investigation is under way and she will communicate the findings.

A letter was sent to President Zuma requesting clarification as to whether the SA delegation had been at all involved and at a DIRCO briefing last week, Clayson Monyela assured our Chairman Mary Kluk that he had personally spoken to each of the delegation and none of them had been involved in any way.

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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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