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Communications revolution strengthens SAJBD

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Whatever a post-COVID-19 world will look like, the changes the pandemic has imposed on how society operates are likely to become a permanent part of how things are done in the future. This is especially true in terms of communications.

Although there will no doubt be a return to some degree to how people interacted prior to COVID-19 with participants at particular events being physically present, virtual engagements in the form of Zoom meetings, webinars, online conferences, and the like will continue to be part of our modus operandi. Not that this is a bad thing. Thanks to the communications revolution, it has become easier, quicker, and more affordable both to organise and participate in all kinds of events, from everyday operational meetings in the workplace to major public happenings like national conferences. As an organisation that operates in the communications field to a great extent, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has been able to adapt very well to this ever-changing environment.

Over the past week, Board representatives have figured prominently in a host of high-profile public engagements. On the local front, Vice-President Zev Krengel spoke on the economic and unifying impacts of the recent turmoil in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in an online briefing titled, “South Africa after the unrest”, hosted by the Hellenic Italian and Portuguese Alliance of SA.

Professor Karen Milner spoke on a panel hosted by Habonim titled, “Building back from the brink – a South African update with Johnny Copelyn, Khaya Sithole, and Rafael Friedman”.

Internationally, President Mary Kluk and Reeva Forman spoke on a webinar on South Africa hosted by the Australian Jewish National Fund, and past president (and Wimbledon veteran) Marlene Bethlehem spoke on “Jewish sports people from 1933 onwards” at a launch of the German exhibition, “Between Success and Persecution”. Professor Milner was a panellist for Maroubra Synagogue in Sydney’s webinar on the response of South African Jewry to unrest in the country.

This week, National Director Wendy Kahn, along with her counterparts on the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Anti-Defamation League, was a guest speaker on a webinar titled “Navigating online hate and antisemitism” organised by the SAJBD – Cape. The Board is also involved in planning meetings for an upcoming webinar with local and international input on the legacy of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban to mark the 20th anniversary of that notorious event.

Israel in Africa

In spite of raucous opposition from a number of African states (including, sadly, our own), Israel was recently accorded observer status on the African Union Commission. In our press statement welcoming the decision, we commended the commission for enhancing the potential for engagement between Israel and Africa in many important spheres. We also expressed disappointment at our government’s negative reaction to the move, commenting that we would have hoped that it would have embraced it as an opportunity for constructive engagement and dialogue, and expressing the hope that it would reconsider its position and make itself part of the positive changes that lie ahead.

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

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