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Celebration, contemplation, and challenges of the chaggim



The Jewish festival season commences this coming Monday evening with the ushering in of the New Year. Rosh Hashanah – unlike its secular counterpart, which tends to be characterised by raucous celebration – marks the beginning of an intensified period of spiritual stocktaking and introspection known as the aseret yemei teshuva (the ten days of repentance). This being my last column before Rosh Hashanah, I wish everyone a ktiva ve chatima tova. May we all be inscribed and sealed with a year of success, health, and peace.

As always at this time, I urge everyone to comply with the security guidelines of the Community Security Organisation (CSO), especially when travelling to and from shul. We also need to be constantly aware of our surroundings, and report anything out of the ordinary to the CSO on 086 1800 018. Those requiring any advice about improving the security of their installation should email

From the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD’s) point of view, one of the perennial challenges that confront us during this period is to address cases of university exams being set on the chaggim. Fortunately, over the years, we’ve been able to address such difficulties, but to continue doing so, we rely on those affected to inform us in good time. If you have a scheduling clash and haven’t yet informed the Board, make sure to do so as soon as possible by writing to

SA Jewish heritage

In a now famous address to the 1905 South African Zionist Federation conference, Rabbi J H Hertz presented what is considered to be the first-ever historical overview of the Jewish community in South Africa. Since then, innumerable further lectures have been given and a plethora of books, articles (both popular and scholarly) and, in more recent decades, online databases produced. The sheer fecundity of local Jewish historical writing continues unabated to this day, and is indicative of our community’s abiding sense of pride in and connection to its past.

The SAJBD’s own work over the decades has come to extend beyond its core function of protecting Jewish civil rights to include a strong focus on preserving and promoting South African Jewish heritage. The National Board is finalising two exciting new publications on the theme of Jewish involvement in various aspects of the anti-apartheid struggle, while the Pretoria Council SAJBD is in the process of producing a comprehensive new history of the more than 140-year Jewish presence in its own part of the country. On her Chai FM talk show last Friday, the Board’s Head of Communications Charisse Zeifert interviewed Pretoria Council member Cathy Kadish on this exciting project. A Jacaranda Jews Facebook page has also been set up to enable Jewish Pretorians past and present to share their own stories. For more information, contact Diane on

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

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