Subscribe to our Newsletter

click to dowload our latest edition



Hitting the ground running in 5784

Avatar photo



The first week of the Jewish new year – 5784 on the Jewish calendar – has been an exceptionally busy one for the Board, with high-level engagements taking place in three different provinces on Tuesday, 19 September, alone. A delegation comprising national and regional representatives travelled to Ulundi to pay a condolence visit to the family of the late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, while our political and social justice liaison, Alana Baranov, was in Cape Town presenting our oral submission on the Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill in Parliament. For my part, I was required to travel only as far as Boksburg, where I represented the Jewish community at a stakeholder engagement with faith-based organisations convened by the Gauteng provincial government’s ethics and anti-corruption council. In addition, we provided a prayer to be read on behalf of our community at the South African Women in Dialogue conference in Pretoria. Normally, our tireless interfaith liaison Reeva Forman would have delivered it in person, but on this occasion, she was in Ulundi with the rest of our delegation.

At the Boksburg event, I spoke on a panel together with representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Rastafarian communities as well as traditional healers and traditional leaders. I stressed, with appropriate illustrations from the Torah, how in our tradition, liberation and nation building go hand in hand with the rule of law and responsibility. Corruption is the worst form of theft, I said, since those committing it steal not only our money but our trust and our future. We put our faith in our elected leaders to have the country’s best interests at heart, not their own, and when they enriched themselves at the expense of those who chose them, they destroy that faith.

The oral submissions on the Hate Crimes Bill were presented by various stakeholders to the National Council of Provinces in Parliament. As I have previously stressed, anti-hate crime legislation is of crucial importance to the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) in terms of fulfilling its mandate of protecting the Jewish community and upholding its civil rights. We have therefore been involved with this issue from the outset. In her presentation, Baranov highlighted the history of antisemitism in South Africa and raised key points from the Board’s written submission. These included some of our practical recommendations regarding the need for official bodies that fight hate to be properly resourced, for citizen education and empowerment, and restorative justice. Baranov was also involved in the creation of the oral submission presentation for the Hate Crimes Working Group in her role as deputy chairperson of this civil society network.

To conclude with the Ulundi visit, our delegation, comprising Reeva Forman, Wendy Kahn, and Charisse Zeifert from the SAJBD, and Grant Mazerow and Benji Shulman from the KwaZulu-Natal Zionist Council and South African Zionist Federation respectively, met with Prince Zuzi Buthelezi and his family at his home. All were much moved by the warmth and obvious appreciation with which they were welcomed. The visit was spent sharing memories of the late Buthelezi and the innumerable positive interactions he had with the Jewish community throughout his long life.

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

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *