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Community opens its heart to xenophobia victims

As I write, the National Office of the Board is preparing to send to Durban a truckload of essential provisions collected by Johannesburg Jewry for xenophobia victims.





It says a lot about how generously the community responded to the Board’s appeal for donations, that even after we had contributed to the two main sites dealing with xenophobia victims in Gauteng, we have been able to send a further 80 more boxes of material to KwaZulu-Natal, which has been particularly hard hit by the violence. I commend and thank our community for this wonderful and heart-warming response.

On Monday South Africans celebrated Freedom Day, marking 21 years since the inaugural elections that launched a new era of multiracial democracy in our country.

It is especially at these times of profound concern that we all feel over the attacks on foreign nationals, that we need to embrace anew the values of human rights and zero tolerance for all forms of discrimination that underpin our society. The latest xenophobia crisis demonstrated how easily these basic values can be forgotten when anger and hatred are allowed to get out of control.

Over the weekend, unfortunately, we witnessed another instance in which the non-racial, democratic ethos of this country was undermined, this time by no less than the president of the Student Representative Council at Wits University, Mcebo Freedom Dlamini.

In an exchange with others commenting on his Facebook site, Dlamini made a series of hateful comments about Jews, including endorsing assertions that Hitler knew what he was doing in perpetrating the Holocaust and expressing agreement with the notorious “Christ killers” deicide libel that has been used to propagate anti-Jewish hatred for nearly two millennia. He further expressed unabashed admiration for Hitler and what he had achieved. 

Wits Vice Chancellor Adam Habib was quick to come out with a statement deploring these comments and unequivocally dissociating the university from them. We are following up with his office to ascertain what further action is being contemplated against the individual concerned.

In addition, a formal complaint of anti-Semitic hate speech has been lodged against Dlamini with the SA Human Rights Commission, and we are providing as much support that we can to the SA Union of Jewish Students, whose members have been most immediately affected by this incident. The core mandate of the SAJBD is to protect SA Jewry against anti-Semitism in all its forms.

We will not, indeed cannot, allow people to get away with such defamatory attacks, especially when they hold representative office. Such overt incitement to hatred, in addition to being offensive and hurtful in and of themselves, is also dangerous in the country where, as the xenophobic violence so starkly demonstrated,  hate speech can easily lead to acts of violence against those targeted. This point was clearly stressed in our submission to the SAHRC.

As in the past, the Board will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that this reprehensible behaviour is appropriately dealt with and that a strong message is sent out that those who engage in anti-Semitic hate speech, will be held accountable for their actions.



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

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. nat cheiman

    Apr 28, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    ‘No No No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Jews first.’

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Shabbat Around The World beams out from Jozi



More than 75 devices around the globe logged in to Beit Luria’s World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) Shabbat Around the World programme on Friday, 15 January.

Whether it was breakfast time in California, tea time in Europe, or time to break challah in Johannesburg, participants logged in to take part in Beit Luria’s Kabbalat Shabbat service.

Among those participating were Rabbi Sergio Bergman, the president of the WUPJ; chairperson Carole Sterling; and Rabbi Nathan Alfred, the head of international relations. Singers Tulla Eckhart and Brian Joffe performed songs from a global array of artists, along with Toto’s Africa to add a little local flair to the service. After kiddish was said and bread was broken, Rabbi Bergman thanked Beit Luria for hosting the WUPJ. The shul looks forward to more collaborations with its global friends in the future.

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UJW Sewing School graduates model creations



The outfits modelled by graduates of the Union of Jewish Women’s (UJW’s) Sewing School were all the more spectacular for the fact that some of their creators had never seen a sewing machine prior to the four-month course.

They were modelled at the school’s graduation ceremony at Oxford Shul on 15 December to much excitement and applause.

UJW executive member and Sewing School Manager Ariane Heneck expressed her gratitude to Chido Tsodzo, the school’s superb teacher, and the event ended with a much appreciated lunch for graduates and their invited guests.

The self-empowerment Sewing School for unemployed men and women was started by the UJW 10 years ago. It now has a small production team of ex-students, and some of its graduates have been employed in factories, while others are selling their own creations.

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Israel Rugby 7s to camp with the Blitzbokke



The thrill-a-minute Rugby 7s have captured the hearts of fans around the world. The Blitzbokke, South Africa’s national Rugby 7s team, ranks second in the world, and is among the most exciting, formidable, and feared of 7s teams.

Exactly 9 191 km away are the Israelis, an emerging rugby nation that has talent, determination, and a world-class coach in South African Kevin Musikanth. Now, these two squads will meet. The Israeli 7s side will be travelling to the SAS Rugby Academy in Stellenbosch to train with the Blitzbokke.

The Blitzbokke will have the opportunity to prepare for the coming 7s rugby season by measuring their skills of play against the Israelis. And the Israelis, well, they will be rubbing shoulders with, and learning from the best in the world and honing their skills for their coming European Rugby season.

“It’s an opportunity for our boys to learn from the world’s best,” says Musikanth. The SAS Rugby Academy is run by the legendary Frankie Horn, a technical expert whose coaching guidelines and methods are second to none in World Rugby 7s.

Musikanth took over as Rugby 15s head coach in Israel in 2018, and in October 2019, he became director of rugby for the Israeli Rugby Union and head coach for the national programmes of both the 15s and the 7s.

Horn visited Israel last December at the behest of Rugby Israel and its supporting Olympic body and since then, the partnership has continued to grow. The upcoming training camp will begin in Israel, where Horn, together with Phil Snyman, the former Blitzbok captain and multiple world champion winner, will spend a week with the players and coaching staff at Wingate, Netanya, the home base of Rugby Israel. They will then all travel to Stellenbosch for a week’s camp with the Blitzbokke.

“We’ve already seen the difference through our partnership with Frankie. Two of our players were spotted by him on his previous trip to Israel, and have been training at SAS on the off-season,” says Musikanth. The two players are Omer Levinson (scrum half) and Yotam Shulman (lock).

Horn, technical advisor to Rugby Israel’s 7s, says “It is a great opportunity for both teams to derive positive benefit from the camp.”

Israel Rugby has been making considerable professional strides since Musikanth took over the reins. Israel 15s played their 100th test match against Cyprus and celebrated with a 34-22 victory.

“We’re in the top 25 in Europe in 15s and in the top 16 in 7s, the toughest, most competitive continent in world rugby,” says Musikanth, “and I can realistically see us setting our sights on the Top 15 and Top 12 respectively in the future.”

Currently, there are three eligible South Africans who are on the Israeli national squad: Jayson Ferera as flanker (Pirates Rugby Club), Daniel Stein as fly half (studying in Israel), and Jared Sichel as prop (Hamilton’s Rugby Club, Cape Town). Eligibility to play for a national team in rugby is stricter than in other sports. One does not qualify just because one has a passport. One has to have had a parent or grandparent that was born in that country or one has to have lived in the country for at least three years.

“With so much Jewish rugby talent around the world, we would be able to put a world-class Israeli national team together if not for the measures that restrict eligibility to national call ups,” says Musikanth.

The Israel Rugby development project was accelerated thanks to Musikanth initiating Bridges through Rugby. This project is the collective effort of a few South African Jewish businessmen who appreciate the long-term vision of Israel becoming a stronger rugby nation. They have come on board to assist with this most opportune tour. National financial support is fixed and, as such, is limited. While the strong players and national coaches will be attending the training camp in Stellenbosch, there will be some that will, unfortunately, have to stay behind.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players and coaches. To get to see the best upfront and feed off their knowledge is going to be incredible,” says Musikanth. “Everyone is eager to go, of course, but there is a cap to the support we have in place. We would like to take a development u20 squad as well as coaching staff who would carry the benefits of this into the future. A rugby visit to Stellenbosch can change rugby lives in many respects. Stellenbosch is rugby utopia!”

Rugby aside, with the Israelis and South Africans camping together, the question of what will be for dinner after a gruelling day’s training may be a matter of contention. A tussle for whether to serve boerewors or shwarma may result in a scrum in the SAS dining hall to determine the outcome.

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