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Warm tribute paid to role of women in the community

  • Mandy
Past tense - future perfect? This was the theme of the 30th National Triennial Conference of the Union of Jewish Women, held at the Killarney Country Club last weekend. The conference spanned over three days.
by STAFF REPORTER | Aug 20, 2014
Pictured Mandy Wiener
Photograph by Ilan Ossendryver.


Women had always played an important role in society since biblical times, said Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein in his address on the opening night of the conference.

“They are the mainstay of the community and have played a vital role in the unfolding story of the South African Jewish community, in our families, schools, shuls and indeed everything. Our sages teach us that ‘in the merit of righteous women we were redeemed from Egypt, and in their merit we will be redeemed in the future’. The women of our community, like the righteous women in Egypt, ensure our vibrancy and vitality,” he said.

Women had always influenced the course of Jewish destiny. The Book of Bereishit spoke not only about Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, “our founding fathers, but also our founding mothers, Saragh, Rivka, Rachel and Leah”, said Rabbi Goldstein.

The UJW harnessed the talents, creativity and commitment of the women of the community to make a real difference for good. This continued the finest tradition of generations of Jewish women “since the beginning of our people”, he said.

The UJW in South Africa had held a special place within the International Council of the UJW, said Robyn Lenn, president of the ICJW.

“Since its inception in 1931, your organisation’s decades of dedicated service to your fellow-South Africans, to your Jewish community and your Israel project at the Hebrew University, demonstrate the UJW's continuing relevance and valuable contribution within global Jewish women’s organisations,” she said.

Mary Kluk, national chairman of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, said the union was one of the most important affiliates of the SAJBD.

“Its representatives sit on all our national and regional councils, and several have gone on to occupy senior positions within the Board’s leadership structures. We are further proud to have been able to partner with the UJW in numerous successful outreach and educational initiatives over the years,” she said.

Margot Segal, president of the UJWSA, said the union, in its 80 years of existence, had played the role of initiator, motivator and catalyst.

“The UJW has started programmes which others emulated. We have kept abreast of the times and been ready to change. Efforts towards the wellbeing and education of people, which took place almost from inception, remain a priority today. Our concern for the Jewish community is deep and abiding, as is our commitment to Israel where we support important projects,” she said.

Journalist and author Mandy Wiener, was the keynote speaker on the opening night of the conference. She spoke about her life as a writer and author.

Other keynote speakers at the conference were, among others, Glynnis Breytenbach, DA Member of Parliament and former senior public prosecuto;, Nicky Newton King, the first female chief executive officer of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; economist David Shapiro; and Arthur Goldstuck, media analyst.

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