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Op-eds

SAJBD gets involved in national human rights issues

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
Part of the mandate of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) is “to work for the betterment of human relations between Jews and all other peoples of South Africa, based on mutual respect, understanding and goodwill”. To this end, we seek to lead the Jewish community in participating in the affairs of the wider society, and to do its part to ensure that fundamental human rights and freedoms are upheld in our country.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Aug 10, 2018

Over the past week, the board participated in two significant national events. On 1 August, Chaya Singer, our Parliamentary and Diplomatic Liaison, represented us at the Intersectional Women’s March to Parliament, held in Cape Town to mark the launch of Women’s Month. In this powerful display of solidarity against the scourge of gender-based violence in South Africa, women representing a cross-section of society united to protest and observe a moment of silent prayer to mourn the many victims of ongoing abuse. The board supports calls for communities to come together in upholding the right to safety and equality, irrespective of gender.

The second national gathering was last Monday’s Southern African Interfaith Council Conference. I attended the event, and delivered an opening prayer on behalf of the Jewish community. The theme of the gathering was the imperatives of social cohesion and nation building in the context of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela.

In my brief message, I said that while the various faith groups differed from one another on points of belief, custom, and practice, the values they had in common were far more important. These values were a common recognition of the intrinsic worth of every human being, that all of us are the children of a common Father, and that in light of this, we should treat one another with humility, integrity and compassion. Mandela epitomised these qualities. His humility was shown in the unfailing warmth and consideration he displayed to all he came into contact with. He was able to look beyond differences in race or ideology to see the essential human being, even when dealing with those who oppressed him.

On Sunday, SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn spoke at the departure of this year’s CycAlive team, led by Rabbi Dovid Hazdan, and involving Grade 11 pupils from Torah Academy, Pace College and Moletsane High School in Soweto, Afrika Tikkun Orange Farm, and Israeli school pupils. CycAlive is a special initiative that brings together young people from across the social and ethnic spectrum in celebrating diversity and shared humanity.

The past week was also a busy one on the Jewish communal front. This year’s Limmud festival was once again a resounding success, both in terms of attendance and the quality and diversity of the presentations. Board members once more participated in the events with our Gauteng Chairman, Marc Pozniak, was a panellist at one of the Johannesburg sessions.

At the same time, the SAJBD Cape Council held its annual conference, which continued the tradition of lively, engaging debate, and communal participation for which the Cape Board and Cape Town Jewry as a whole are deservedly renown. Both events reflect the continuing vibrancy of Jewish life in South Africa, and the organisers deserve kudos for a job well done.

  • Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00 to 13:00.

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