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Kahn flies community’s flag at Directors' Forum

  • Kahn WendyHOME
More than 50 senior Jewish community professionals, including SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn, attended the third annual meeting of the World Jewish Congress National Community Directors’ Forum in Dublin on November 21-22.
by DAVID SAKS | Nov 30, 2016

As was the case at the previous two meeting - held in Prague and Lisbon - participants used the opportunity to network with their peers in other countries, share experiences and raise the concerns of their respective communities.

One of the highlights of the conference was a reception hosted by Irish President Michael D Higgins at his home. In his address, Higgins praised the “rich contribution” that the small Irish Jewish community had made to Irish arts, professions and politics, while expressing regret over its ongoing decline due to high levels of emigration among its younger members. He expressed particular concern over rising levels of anti-Semitism in Europe.

“It is not acceptable to see armed police outside synagogues and Jewish schools across European cities. Your vigilance is one in which we must all share, and it is also one that must enable us to better detect and combat all forms of discriminations and exclusions, wherever they arise,” he said.

In an address given at a dinner at Dublin Castle on Monday evening, former Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Bertie Ahern highlighted the importance of dialogue between different nations and factions to decrease global tensions.

The conference was chaired by World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer, who described it as having been “very productive”.   

“Exchanging best practices and equipping Jewish leaders with the necessary tools to do their job are key missions of the World Jewish Congress, and I am glad that the group feels that a network is now in place and producing results,” he commented.

Kahn, who made a presentation on the South African situation, concurred, saying that for Jewish communal professionals at the coal face, coming together in a focused way to deal with areas of common concern and learning from one another, was a very useful exercise.

Areas particularly focused on were strengthening the security of Jewish institutions, fighting anti-Semitism (including developing effective ways of addressing the cyberhate threat) and promoting interfaith relationships.

Kahn said she had been struck by the seriousness of the challenges that many other Diaspora communities were wrestling with. Certain communities were engaging in a process of long-term recovery from acts of terror, and in a number of cases basic religious freedoms that the South African Jewish community took for granted, such as shechita and brit milah, were under threat.

Other communities were in severe financial straits. It was a tribute to the World Jewish Congress that it was able to act so effectively in bringing the Jewish Diaspora together in finding ways to address these challenges and develop crucial resources within its own structures to provide assistance in that regard. 

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