The meaning for the Jewish people of the recently concluded Shavuot festival can aptly be summed up by the famous phrase from the Torah Naaseh v’nishma – ‘We will do and we will hear’. One of the many possible interpretations of this collection assertion by our ancestors is that Judaism is a religion committed to action and not simply to affirmations of faith. Jews are not required to cut themselves off from the world and life lives of monastic isolation. Rather, their religious heritage requires them to become involved in every aspect of daily living, with a view to elevating both themselves and the society of which they are a part. [read more]
On 12 March 2013, anti-Israel demonstrators brought a recital by Israeli-born pianist Yossi Reshef to a premature end by invading the venue and forcibly disrupting the performance. Unable to defend the disgraceful actions, those responsible and their supporters have since resorted to playing the race card, fabricating atrocity stories and invoking conspiracy theories against the Jewish communal leadership. The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) rejects this despicable tactic with all the contempt it deserves, as will all fair-minded, reasonable South Africans. [read more]
From left: David Jacobson, Tzvi Gorelick (Namibia), Li Boiskin, Geoff Ramokgadi (Swaziland), Sam Benatar (Zimbabwe), Wendy Kahn, Mary Kluk, Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, Mervyn Smith
At the time of writing, the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in Budapest, Hungary, is approaching its conclusion. It has been a stirring, if often sobering experience to have been part of this great gathering of Jewish leaders from throughout the world.
The reason why Budapest was chosen for this year’s meeting, as noted last week, was to show solidarity for the Hungarian Jewish community at a time when it is confronted with an alarming upsurge in antisemitism. In the course of our stay, we have witnessed at first-hand the severity of this problem. Whatever problems that we might face in South Africa, it bears no relation to a situation where overt antisemitic rhetoric features continually in the public domain, driven not by individuals but by a major political party. We certainly cannot deny the high level of security that was provided for the conference by the authorities, yet the very fact that such comprehensive measures were deemed necessary tells its own sad story. One cannot imagine a Jewish leadership gathering in South Africa ever having to be protected in this way. [read more]
The far-right Jobbik Party protests against the WJCConference
South African delegates at the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Plenary Assembly, held in Budapest, Hungary, from 5-7 May, were shocked by the open displays of anti-Semitism that confronted them during their visit. It was to show solidarity with the local Jewish community as well as put pressure on the Hungarian government that the WJC took the decision to hold its meeting in Hungary rather than, as is usually the case, in Israel. What delegates witnessed and experienced soon confirmed the extent to which far-right anti-Semitism and racism has surged in that country recent years. [read more]