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Voices

A helping hand in tragic times

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As part of our ongoing efforts to assist the victims of the Boksburg explosion, last week, South African Jewish Board of Deputies National Director Wendy Kahn, and South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) Chairperson Bethia Milner joined the Clive Mashishi Foundation and Fingertips of Africa at another funeral for those who lost their lives in the tragedy. This time, a grandmother and her 14-year-old granddaughter were buried, following a truly heart-breaking funeral service outside the home they had lived in. The granny, who had taken her two grandchildren to work as she felt it wasn’t safe to leave them at home, was immediately killed in the explosion while the older granddaughter died rescuing her younger sibling. Our team assisted with the logistics around the funeral, and catered a lunch for the family and other mourners. I thank The Angel Network SA and all our other partners for enabling us to alleviate, if only in a small way, the grief and hardship caused by this terrible incident.

Global recognition for SAUJS

SAUJS is one of the affiliate organisations with which we work especially closely. Over many years, we have partnered with it in numerous important areas, including combating antisemitism on campus, social-outreach projects, and democracy-building initiatives such as our pre-election #MakeUsCount campaigns. We were therefore especially delighted when SAUJS was presented late last year with the World Union of Jewish Students Israel Engagement Award for its “Heal over Hate” campaign, run in response to that year’s Israeli Apartheid Week. Through these campaigns, focused on fostering education, debate, and solutions, SAUJS has been able to counteract effectively the wholly one-sided, essentially negative vitriol of the radical anti-Israel lobby while at the same time ensuring that our university campuses continue to be spaces for diversity of opinion and civil debate. As the Board has regularly conveyed to its international counterparts, this strategy is something that Jewish students confronting similar such challenges everywhere could well benefit from. Hopefully, recognition of SAUJS by the leading global Jewish student body will help bring the lessons it has to teach student activists to a wider audience.

Last week, the Board participated in a planning meeting for the upcoming special preview of I am Here, an acclaimed documentary by local filmmaker Jordy Sank on the story of Cape Town Holocaust survivor Ella Blumenthal. The screening, which will take place at the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre on 25 January, will include remarks by Holocaust education expert Paul Salmons, followed by a Q&A with the producer and director. Ella Blumenthal is an inspirational figure in our community. I am Here is a memorable record of her remarkable story of survival and resilience, and it has attracted large and enthusiastic audiences since its recent launch in Cape Town. To book your tickets directly with Ster-Kinekor, go to Special Film Preview: I Am Here.

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

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