Press Releases

In his meeting with the leadership of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) last week, President Jacob Zuma reiterated his government’s support for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian question, and further saw a role for South Africa to play in bringing this about.

The SAJBD sees itself as partners with Government and the ANC in helping to promote peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. We therefore feel extremely disappointed by the ANC’s recent call for a boycott against Israel. This will not result in bringing about peace to the region but will only cause polarisation and division within our own society.

In reality the main target of this boycott is South African Jewry.  We have already seen how the importation of the Middle East conflict into this country by anti-Israel agitators has resulted in hostility and intimidation, including threats of violence to our community.

Some of those expressing such views, moreover, have come from the ranks of the ruling party, and even more frequently from its alliance partners. When the world’s only Jewish majority state is singled out for one-sided condemnation and punitive action over and above every other nation in the world, it inevitably fosters a culture of hostility towards Jews in general.

The ANC’s call for a boycott further undermines our Government’s encouraging attempts to play a role in the peace process, something it is pursuing through their Middle East envoys.

This notwithstanding, the SAJBD remains committed to supporting a negotiated, two-state solution to the conflict, and will not be cowed by those, whether within the ANC or elsewhere in this country who wish to deny the Jewish community its right to identify with the Jewish homeland.  We therefore call on the ANC to play a constructive rather than destructive role in helping to realise our common goal of a sustainable peace in the Middle East.

 

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The SAJBD extends its sincerest condolences to the all members of the Bernhard family, the Union of Orthodox Synagogues and the Chabad community on the passing of Rabbi Norman Bernhard, ztl. A man of many gifts and boundless energy, Rabbi Bernhard arrived in South Africa a little under half a century ago and quickly established himself as one of the country’s most dynamic Jewish leaders and spokesmen. As a religious leader, he was amongst the foremost innovators in the field of Jewish education, both at the school and adult level, and contributed significantly to the impressive growth of Judaism both in Johannesburg and elsewhere in the country. As a congregational rabbi, he served for well over three decades as spiritual leader to one of the city’s leading communities, the Oxford Hebrew Congregation. He further held important leadership positions with the UOS structure.

Rabbi Bernhard’s involvement in Jewish communal life went well beyond the religious sphere. In the media field, he was a frequent guest on radio discussion programmes, bringing to bear his trademark wit, eloquence and erudition in explaining Judaism and Jewishness to a wider audience. He also wrote regularly for Jewish and general publications in this regard. Rabbi Bernhard was also one of only a handful of Jewish religious leaders to have spoken out against the injustices of the apartheid system from the pulpit, and maintained a keen interest in encouraging Jews to be involved in the political transition process. Long before it became common practice, he ensured that his community was involved in general social upliftment projects on behalf of the needy in the wider community.

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Disregarding all standards of basic decency, the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) today chose to send an ugly message to the Jewish community of South Africa. This morning, as a protest against Woolworths for stocking Israeli products, COSAS members in Cape Town deposited a pig’s head in the kosher meat section of a Woolworths food store. A press statement issued by COSAS Western Cape chairperson Siphakamise Ngxowa, inter alia declared that Cosas “will not allow people who will not eat pork to pretend that they are eating clean meat, when it is sold by hands dripping with the blood of Palestinian children”.

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) is appalled by this hate-filled demonstration. We have seen “Shoot the Jew” being chanted at public gatherings and explicit threats made to carry out revenge attacks against the Jewish community for events taking place in Israel and Palestine. Now we have been presented with yet another case of anti-Israel activism crossing over into blatant antisemitism.

It is common knowledge that pork is strictly forbidden according to Jewish dietary laws. This is why depositing pigs’ heads at places associated with Jews and their religion has long been a tactic of those wanting to offend and intimidate the Jewish community. In the past, however, such acts were carried out anonymously. By contrast, Cosas has not only done so in full public view, but has gone about widely publicizing this gross act of bigotry. It is further noteworthy that BDS-SA, which is heading up the campaign to boycott Woolworths, not only failed to condemn the incident but have assisted Cosas in publicizing what it had done.

The SAJBD regards this incident as a hate crime and is investigating its options regarding taking the matter further.

Cosas’ actions have nothing to do with human rights activism. They are acts of racial and religious hatred aimed at causing maximum offense to Jewish people. They are also completely at odds with South Africa’s proud tradition of tolerance and decency and have crossed the moral divide.

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Mitzvah Day at Leeuwkop Prison

13 November 2014

The word Mitzvah is a commandment to do a good deed – it’s a kindling of the soul and what better place to refresh your soul, learn and inspire others than at place so many people forget – prison.  International Mitzvah Day is held every year with the Union of Jewish Women and this year […]

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 Passing of Communal Giant, Mervyn Smith

17 November 2014

Tributes from around the world have been pouring in for Mervyn Smith, a senior South African Jewish communal leader who went on to play an increasingly important role in the arena of international Jewish politics. Smith, who was 77, passed away in Cape Town over the weekend after a long illness. The funeral took place […]

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SAJBD comments on the terrorist attack at a Jerusalem Synagogue

18 November 2014

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies is shocked by the barbaric terrorist attack against worshippers at a Jerusalem synagogue this morning. We extend our heartfelt condolences to those whose friends and loved ones were so brutally murdered, and pray for a complete and speedy recovery for those who were injured. This atrocity was the latest, […]

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The BDS Theatre of the Absurd

20 November 2014

The actors are the same. The script is the same. The rhetoric is the same. In this ongoing Theatre of the Absurd, BDS is ready to stage every possible propaganda stunt in order to manipulate public perceptions. The latest production in the ongoing BDS propaganda circus was yesterday’s so-called “Woolworths Shareholders Press Conference”.  Few realised that […]

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SAJBD meets with President Abbas.

27 November 2014

Yesterday, the senior leadership of the South African Jewish community, comprising representatives of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and SA Zionist Federation, met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and President Zuma at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria. The Jewish delegation was much reassured by President Abbas’ confirmation that he and his government […]

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BDS-SA Invites Hijacker While World Condemns Terrorism

12 January 2015

With the world still reeling from the horrific terrorist attacks carried out in Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia, the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has announced that it will be bringing notorious plane hijacker Leila Khaled to South Africa as its guest next month. In its pre-publicity campaign, BDS depicts Khaled holding an AK-47 […]

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SAJBD commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

27 January 2015

Today, world leaders and Holocaust survivors will be among those gathering at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 27 January 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet army. Between 1940 and 1945, at least 1.3 million people, mostly Jews, were deported to Auschwitz, […]

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Why the SAJBD objects to the visit of Leila Khaled

6 February 2015

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) protests the bringing out of terrorist Leila Khaled by BDS this week.  Mary Kluk, the Chairman of the SAJBD is available to provide an alternate view on this visit.  Contrary to the claims that the BDS is non-violent and that Leila Khaled and the PFLP are peace […]

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SAJBD’s input into the State of the Nation Address

10 February 2015

On Thursday in Parliament, President Jacob Zuma will deliver his annual State of the Nation Address. In this keynote message to the nation, he will analyse and comment on the current political and socio-economic state of the country and outline his government’s vision for the year ahead. The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) […]

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Advisory for Demonstration against the visit of Leila Khaled

12 February 2015

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) wishes to advise the Media that the Jewish community, together with like-minded South Africans who abhor the importing of hate and the glorification of terrorism into this country, will be demonstrating against BDS-South Africa for inviting convicted terrorist, Leila Khaled to South Africa.  It is no coincidence that […]

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Council of KZN Jewry responds to the DUT SRC/PYA memorandum

12 February 2015

Media Statement from the Council of KwaZulu-Natal Jewry regarding the DUT SRC/ PYA memorandum of demand for the deregistration of Jewish students The Council of KwaZulu-Natal Jewry is appalled by the demand from the Student Representative Council (SRC) and Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) of the Durban University of Technology (DUT) for Jewish students at the […]

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Palestinian Human Rights Activist Bassem Eid disrupted by the BDS

5 March 2015

Yesterday, UJ students experienced at first hand the bullying, intolerant tactics of the BDS movement when a lecture by Palestinian human rights activist Bassim Eid had to be discontinued. Students wearing BDS and PSF tshirts barged into the venue and proceeded to interrupt the speaker, refusing to allow him to continue his address and calling him […]

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Antisemitism on display at BDS Rally

8 March 2015

Protesters outside a SA Zionist Federation conference in Sandton today, yelled:  “You think this is Israel, we are going to kill you”.  From the outset, it was clear that the aim of the demonstration, in the protestors own words, was to “shut down Sandton” and ensure “no Zionist conference be held on our soil”. When […]

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Video reveals hatred, lack of control at BDS rally

11 March 2015

The SAJBD has repeatedly expressed concern that the BDS, by importing the Middle East conflict into South Africa, is creating a climate that encourages anti-Semitism while shutting down any possible and rational debate on Israeli – Palestinian issues. The BDS demonstration held on Sunday, 8 March 2015, shows exactly how the dynamics of intimidation are at play. […]

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SAJBD mourns the tragic & untimely death of Collins Chabane

15 March 2015

The SAJBD joins with the rest of South Africa in mourning the tragic and untimely death of one of our great young leaders. Minister Collins Chabane was always warm and engaging in his interaction with SA Jewry, which in turn was reflective of his commitment to ensuring the peaceful co-existence of all South Africans. The […]

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Human Rights Day Message: Hate Crimes Threaten Everyone

19 March 2015

The Hate Crimes Working Group (members listed below) and Peace Action, are concerned about the growing climate of violence in South Africa. The frequent and vicious outbreaks of xenophobic violence, violence against women and violence against the LGBTQI community, to name a few, are threatening the security of all who live in South Africa. The […]

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An Open Letter to Mayor Tau

20 March 2015

Dear Mayor Tau I write to you in the format of an open letter due to the fact that your Chief of Staff told us that he was refusing to share with you the previous letter we sent 3 March 2015. We note that you will be hosting a `Palestine Solidarity Week’ this week and […]

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Yom Hashoa Ceremony Guest Speaker Hugo Marom: From Orphan to Fighter Pilot

14 April 2015

2015 marks the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, and other Nazi death camps.  On Thursday, 16 April, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies will once again be holding its annual Day of Remembrance Ceremony in memory of the Six Million Jewish Martyrs who perished at the hands of the Nazis during World […]

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Hate Crimes Working Group Press Release on Xenophobia

20 April 2015

Hate Crimes Affect All South Africans – Let’s Work Together to Foster Tolerance and Respect The Hate Crimes Working Group (HCWG) is truly saddened by the current culture of hatred and violence in South Africa.  Intolerance has become endemic and all people in South Africa – civil, religious, community, and government – need to actively […]

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South African Jewish Board of Deputies Mourns Dalya Lemkus

11 November 2014

Over the past few weeks, we have seen a number of Israelis murdered in terror attacks.  Among them was Dalya Lemkus, a young woman, whose family came from our own South African Jewish Community.  26 year old Dalya was fatally stabbed in her neck while waiting for transport at the side of the street outside […]

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SAJBD : Outcome of Wits Disciplinary Process

20 January 2014

The verdict against ten students guilty of misconduct during a concert at Wits University represents a resounding reaffirmation by Wits of the values of academic freedom, diversity and tolerance. In March last year, a group of demonstrators lead by members of the then Student Representative Council invaded the venue where Israeli-born pianist Yossi Reshev was […]

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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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Jewish community mourns the Passing of Nelson Mandela

6 December 2013

The Jewish community of South Africa mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela, beloved father of our nation. We join with all the peoples of the world in paying tribute to the life of a true giant of humanity, and in extending our sincerest condolences to the Mandela family. A man of unflinching courage and unswerving […]

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Typhoon Haiyan Relief : Appeal

12 November 2013

  https://secure3.convio.net/jdc/site/Donation2;jsessionid=DA4F61B64A8C707B1488AB5476E946DE.app347a?df_id=2741&2741.donation=form1 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE New York, NY, November 9, 2013 – In the aftermath of the destruction wrought by super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has begun collecting funds for relief efforts. Responding to a quickly rising death toll and catastrophic destruction, JDC staff experts are consulting […]

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letter to community re statements by Minister Nkoana Mashabane and MK Avigdor Lieberman

4 November 2013

STATEMENT FOR JEWISH COMMUNITY The SA Jewish Board of Deputies and SA Zionist Federation have issued a statement expressing surprise and outrage over recently reported comments by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s regarding the South Africa-Israel relationship. According to media reports, Minister Mashabane stated on Friday that her government’s policy is not to engage with […]

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PRESS RELEASE : 4 NOVEMBER 2013

4 November 2013

The South African Jewish community is surprised and disappointed by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s comments regarding South Africa’s relationship with Israel. According to media reports, Minister Mashabane stated on Friday that her government’s policy is not to engage with Israel at the ministerial level until progress has been made in advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace […]

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Press Release: “Shoot the Jew” Chant Condemned by SAJBD

2 September 2013

What was supposed to have been a silent demonstration against a concert by an Israeli jazz quartet at Wits University last Wednesday [28 August] turned ugly when some of the protestors chanted dubula e juda – ‘Shoot the Jew’ – outside the venue. The protest was organised by BDS–South Africa, an organisation that campaigns for […]

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Press Release: SAJBD Commends University for Upholding Freedom of Speech

29 August 2013

Last night [28 August], a capacity crowd enjoyed an enthralling recital by the Daniel Zamir Quartet, four world-renowned jazz musicians from Israel, at Wits University. The event, held in the Great Hall under the auspices of the Wits Music Department, was attended by over 1000 people from across the ethnic, racial and religious spectrum. It […]

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Press Statement: Bogus “Racism” Charges Won’t Derail Wits Concert

28 August 2013

As a desperate last-ditch tactic to discredit a concert by an eminent Israeli jazz quartet that is taking place at Wits University on Wednesday, anti-Israel extremists have resorted to levelling scurrilous and thoroughly baseless smears against the Jewish communal leadership. Those making these accusations are the self-same activists whose members were responsible for the disgraceful […]

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