Books

We are pleased to announce that the Chanukah 2015 issue of Jewish Affairs has appeared. The link to the full issue is here.

The Jewish Lithuanian legacy comprises a substantial part of this issue. Amidst the inevitable reflections on a community that did not die a natural death but was deliberately destroyed, in part with the connivance of the local population, it is encouraging to feature an example of modern-day Lithuania formally recognising one of its Jewish citizens who achieved renown after emigrating. This is related by Kathy Munroe in her article ‘Herman Kallenbach: Lithuania Remembers a Forgotten Son’, on the life of a pioneering Johannesburg architect and human rights activist who played a significant part in the early career of M K Gandhi. Memories of the Lithuanian shtetlach, as well as efforts currently underway to educate and commemorate their legacy, are dealt with by Veronica Belling in ‘There was Once a Home….” – Memories of the Lithuanian shtetls in the Afrikaner Idishe Tsaytung, 1952-4’ and In ‘Remembering Birzh’ by Bennie Rabinowitz, Gwynne Schrire and Veronica Belling. A reprinted chapter from the memoirs of the late Alec Natas is a droll recounting of a Chanukah episode from his Lithuanian childhood, while a recently discovered letter from a Holocaust survivor in Kovno unsparing records the complicity of non-Jewish Lithuanians in assisting the Germans in the murder of their Jewish neighbours (as well as the looting of their property).

The most comprehensive account of the landmark ‘Greyshirts’ libel trial, held in Grahamstown in 1934, appears in Hadassa Ben-Itto’s acclaimed book The Lie That Wouldn’t Die: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (2005). In this issue, with Judge Ben-Itto’s kind permission, we publish the first of a three-part feature reprinting the relevant chapter recounting how the SAJBD assisted Port Elizabeth’s ReverendAbraham Levy in bringing a criminal libel charge against local pro-Nazi activists who had falsely accused him of authoring a document whose contents were based on the antisemitic conspiracy theories of The Protocols.

David A Sher, who has previously written on aspects of Jewish religious and communal life in SA, focuses on the life of the eminent 19thCentury religious leader Nathan Marcus Adler, Chief Rabbi of the British Empire. To mark the centenary of the famous Gallipoli Campaign in World War I, an operation that involved and impacted on the Jewish people in significant ways, there is Gwynne Schrire’s ‘Dardanelles, Dried Flowers and a Dried Leaf: Who was J Rabinowitz Drechsler?’ In the contemporary SA Jewish art field, Ute Ben Yosef again brings to bear her insight and expertise in ‘Keeper of the Hearth: The Art of Gwen van Embden’.

Eugenie Freed’s short story ‘Honey Cake’ is set in pre-war Cape Town. It movingly describes the parallel struggles of a child seeking to break through the veil of secrecy imposed by her family to learn more about her origins and of a young Lithuanian-Jewish woman to overcome the challenges of a loveless marriage and difficulties of adapting to a still foreign land to forge her own destiny.

Original poetry is contributed by Charlotte Cohen, Mo Skikne and Gabriella Hyman.

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Shortly before Shabbat last week, South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein spoke to Dr Makaziwe Mandela, daughter of former President Nelson Mandela, to convey to the family the Jewish community’s prayers and support. In thanking Rabbi Goldstein, Dr Mandela asked him specifically to convey to the Jewish community that her father cherished “the special and warm relationship” he had had with South African Jews and that he deeply appreciated how throughout his life he had enjoyed the warmth, kindness and support of the Jewish community.

With the life of this extraordinary man now inexorably drawing to a close, South Africans of all races and creeds are preparing with heavy hearts to bid a final farewell to their country’s greatest son. It is not a time for recriminations and finger-pointing, nor is it a time for any individual or group to presume to share in the light of his legacy. South African Jews, notwithstanding Mandela’s generous acknowledgment of the support he received from members of their community, are well aware that in these sad times, it is to Mandela alone that all tributes belong. Nor should it be forgotten that while many Jewish individuals did indeed play a valuable part in his life and career, the majority of Jews chose not to confront the apartheid system in any meaningful way. [read more]

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Real anecdotes of real people; The Travelling Rabbi: My African Tribe is a story of one man’s journey to connect the trailing threads of the African Jewish community. Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, widely known as ‘The Travelling Rabbi’, is the spiritual leader of the Country Communities Department of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the African Jewish Congress. His ‘territory’ encompasses thirteen countries – the entire African continent south of the Sahara – as well as the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar and Mauritius. [read more]

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Jubuntu: Jewish Doers in Education, Skills & Jobs

21 June 2012

Last year at our Conference, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe appealed to the Board to assist in addressing the pressing challenges of education, skills development and job creation facing the country. He emphasised the talent, experience and resourcefulness of the SA Jewish community.

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Book Launches

15 May 2012

Jewish Memories of Mandela UK Launch, 15 May 2012 Report on Pretoria Launch in the Pretoria Jewish Chronicle, November/December 2011 Photos from the Johannesburg Launch at the Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre, 10 November 2011 Cape Town book launch of Jewish Memories of Mandela, in the Cape Jewish Chronicle, December 2011 (Page 8) Photos from the Cape […]

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Jewish Memories of Mandela

14 May 2012

Read full reviews and articles on Jewish Memories of Mandela  To order for R400 (excluding postage and packaging), email Shirley Beagle beagle@beyachad.co.za or call +27116452583. Hurry – stocks are limited!

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Book Reviews

16 March 2012

David Batzofin in The Citizen, 16 March 2012  John Boje, “Coffee-Table books that make you think”, in The Star Tonight, 8 March 2012 Vivienne Atwood in the Sunday Tribune’s Sunday Magazine, 11 December 2011 John Boje, “From the history of humanity to portraits of power”, in the Pretoria News, 5 December 2011 Professor Reuben Musiker in Jewish Affairs, Channukah […]

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Review of Jewish Memories of Mandela by Prof Reuben Musiker

28 November 2011

The world of the printed book continues to grow exponentially even in a digital age, which is itself peaking. A printed book continues to be born every thirty seconds, while well over a million titles are published annually. Electronic e-books have overtaken hard-covered printed books, yet neither format shows any sign of diminishing in number. […]

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Cape Connections in Jewish Memories of Mandela

1 November 2011

Jewish Memories of Mandela, a landmark publication that was recently launched at the 46th national conference of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, tells the Mandela story as reflected in the lives and recollections of Jewish community members who were associated with him over the decades.

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