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Goldene Medina exhibition lands in Durban

  • CommunityKZNPressRelease
After successful runs in Cape Town and Johannesburg, a unique exhibition has been touring the country and has landed in Durban, South Africa’s third largest Jewish community.
by LAUREN SHAPIRO | Aug 03, 2017

The Goldene Medina celebrates “175 Years of Jewish Life in South Africa”. At the Durban launch last Sunday, vice-president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD)’s KZN Council Susan Abro, welcomed the guests, including rabbis, reverends, interfaith representatives, consular officials and members of the local media.

Keynote speaker Gavin Morris, director of the SA Jewish Museum and first-time visitor to the Durban Jewish Centre, said he was “blown away by the scale and beauty” of the institution.

He praised the building as a fitting venue for the exhibition and noted the increasingly important responsibility for organisations like the SAJBD and its affiliates to work as interlocutors between the Jewish community and other communities in the country.

“And that is really what this exhibition is about,” he concluded. “It’s a new way of telling a story, through the everyday lives of generations of Jewish families. It’s a catalyst for nostalgia – whether you are Jewish or South African, you’ll find something to resonate with you.”

Although the exhibition’s modus operandi of anonymous anecdotes aims to represent the shared experiences of all South African Jews (with no emphasis on particular people or places), Durban’s impact cannot go completely undistinguished.

A panel pays specific homage to the Durban Jewish Club (the erstwhile name of the Durban Jewish Centre), where the city’s tightknit Jewish community congregated because they weren’t allowed into the Country Club down the road.

In addition, the exhibition showcases the machanot (youth camps) that so many recall tenderly from their youth, as well as the schools, shuls and family structures so familiar across the South African Jewish community.

“I am very impressed with the quality and contents of the historical displays,” commented Professor Hoosen Vawda, KZN Inter-Religious Council executive. “We as South Africans need to know how the Jewish community came to this country, the challenges they faced and the contributions they made.

“I hope that these efforts will help to disperse some of the anti-Semitism that plagues our community.”

The project has also attracted consular support from countries like the United States.

 “Seeing the Jewish contribution to South Africa is another reminder of the wonderful expression of the country’s cultural diversity. It’s one of its great strengths,” affirmed Frances Chisholm, US Consul General.

“I hope this exhibition will bring about more tolerance for otherness and an appreciation of different cultures.” The Goldene Medina: Celebrating 175 Years of Jewish Life in South Africa will be on display at the Durban Jewish Centre until August 8. 

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