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Voices

Frank discussion with the president

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A busy month for the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) culminated last week in an extended and productive meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa at his home in Johannesburg.

National President Shaun Zagnoev, Vice-President Zev Krengel, National Director Wendy Kahn, and I constituted the delegation from the Board while Ramaphosa was joined at the meeting by National Security Advisor Sydney Mufamadi. It was the first opportunity for our leadership to engage formally with the president since our 2018 Gauteng Council conference, in which he and business leader Stephen Koseff exchanged perspectives on South Africa’s challenges and prospects. Some difficult issues were raised and addressed in a frank and open way, while a number of positive, South Africa-focused initiatives were also discussed. The meeting was constructive, and outcomes are being followed up.

Yom Hashoah 2022

For the first time in three years, our communities in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Pretoria are this week holding in-person Yom Hashoah gatherings. Thanks to modern technology, we were able to host two very successful virtual commemorative ceremonies during lockdown, but we’re grateful to be able to come together physically once more on this important day of solidarity and remembrance. There has been a distinct gain from the experience in that the virtual ceremony has been retained for those unable to attend in person or who prefer to participate online.

All Jews without exception were targeted for annihilation by Nazi Germany, and while that regime was ultimately defeated, the hateful ideology that underpinned it continues to be propagated in similar forms and various platforms to this day. Remembrance, combined with constant vigilance, is thus a duty incumbent on us all. This year, we pass the baton of remembrance to the next generation to ensure that what took place in those dark years and the lessons we must learn from it are never forgotten.

One of the outstanding examples of this inter-generational transmission in recent years has been the partnership between Holocaust survivor Lily Ebert and her great-grandson, Dov Forman. Together, they have made an extraordinary impact in bringing Lily’s story to a global audience, both through the production of the acclaimed book Lily’s Promise: How I Survived Auschwitz and Found the Strength to Live and via their TikTok video sharing platform, which has gained more than a million followers. For this year’s ceremony, we are privileged to be able to present an interview with Ebert specially conducted for the occasion by SAJBD Vice-President Mary Kluk. Kluk also once again headed up the national Yom Hashoah committee, for which we commend and thank her.

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

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Michael Levitt

    Apr 29, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    Hi, I was excited to read the headline “Frank discussion with the president” I then read on. NOTHING……. said, other than about Stephen Koseff, 4 years ago, which has nothing to do with the current times and situation. I as a member of the Jewish community,I feel ignored, sidelined and insulted by this uninformative note. One Certainly cannot call it an article. Why are we not informed on details?
    Really unimpressed, as I am sure is the community you claim to represent.
    Michael

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