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]
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]
This week, by a strange coincidence, the three largest branches of the SAJBD have been participating in the planning of forthcoming civil society initiatives involving walking for peace and human rights. The first of these, the annual Gandhi Walk, will take place in Johannesburg on 19 May. Now in its 28th year, the event honours Mahatma Gandhi, who developed his famous philosophy of satyagraha (passive resistance against injustice) during his years in South Africa, particularly in Johannesburg. For the first time, the Board is encouraging the Jewish community to participate in what is truly an inspiring, community-building initiative that brings together South Africans of all colours and creeds. This follows our very successful Jewish-Hindu evening at the beginning of April, where members of the two communities came together to celebrate the close friendship and political partnership between Gandhi and the Jewish architect Herman Kallenbach. The walk begins at Gandhi Hall, 29 Impala Crescent, Ext. 5, Lenasia. [read more]
We are delighted that Chai FM, Johannesburg Jewry’s feisty community radio station, has been honoured with a prestigious award at the recent MTN Radio Awards. Since its founding some five years ago, the station has provided a vibrant news and discussion forum on matters of Jewish interest. For the SAJBD, it is now an important communications vehicle through which to keep our constituency informed of our activities and other interesting developments life. This includes Steven Gruzd’s weekly ‘Jewish Board Talk’ show every Friday 12h00-13h00 and a weekly update each Thursday usually given by National Director Wendy Kahn. In addition, Board representatives and guest speakers are interviewed on a regular basis. Congratulations to Kathy Kaler and her team for all their excellent work in providing our community with this invaluable resource, which we hope will only go from strength to strength. [read more]