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SA Organisations

The new JHGC in Forest Town has arrived!

  • 2a-Mary Kluk tightcrop
I have just participated in the dedication of the new premises of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre (JHGC) in Forest Town. It was an extremely moving and uplifting occasion, and from my own point of view a great pleasure to be with my colleagues from both the Board and the SA Holocaust and Genocide Foundation.
by MARY KLUK | Sep 02, 2015

From its very establishment the JHGC, under the exceptionally capable leadership of Tali Nates, has been a dynamic presence on the Jewish communal and general educational scene.

To date, it has been operating out of temporary premises; we are delighted that it now has a wonderful new base from which to continue the outstanding work it has been doing. The building will be open to the public from the beginning of next year.    

Speakers included Professor Jonathan Jansen of the University of the Free State and Lewis Levin, the new centre’s architect and project manager.

Prof Jansen emphasised the importance of Holocaust education in light of South Africa’s own historical experience and also deplored the tendency of certain individuals to make inappropriate Holocaust allusions in order to score cheap political points.

Mr Levin described the careful thought that went into creating a space that would be appropriate, thematically and visually, to the JHGC’s mission. It was, as he had previously stressed, important that the building be “humble yet respectful, austere yet contemplative”. 

The Board has been closely associated with the JHGC since its establishment in 2008. We have partnered with it in hosting a number of memorable public events, such as last year’s tribute to Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat who issued 6 000 life-saving visas to Jewish refugees during the Second World War.

On September 20 the Board and JHGC, in collaboration with the Russian Embassy, will be hosting an event commemorating the role played by the Soviet army in liberating the death camps. The evening, to be held at Beyachad, will include addresses by the Russian ambassador and a decorated Soviet war veteran who assisted survivors after the liberation and the screening of a new documentary by Paula Slier on the fate that befell various members of her family during the Holocaust.     

The Durban and Cape Town branches of the Board likewise partner with their respective Holocaust centres in hosting commemorative and educational events. We work with the SA Holocaust and Genocide Foundation in such areas as sensitivity training, including in cases of anti-Semitism occurring in schools and universities and in assisting Holocaust survivors.

The Board is also preparing for the upcoming Heritage Day carnival. As reported last week, the Jewish community float for the parade through Pretoria, will take the form of an Ark (an acronym for “Acts of Random Kindness”), constituting a library stocked with books donated by our community.

This week, we began the process of taking the Ark round to all the Jewish primary schools to enable young learners to participate by presenting books, each to be inscribed by the donor. At the conclusion of the Heritage Day parade, the Ark Library will be presented to the Mayor of Tshwane for placement in a suitable school in the city.

 

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

 

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