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Honouring our Jewish leaders and achievers




Last Sunday, at the meeting of the Board’s National Executive Committee, the subject of awards to worthy recipients in our community was also discussed, in connection with the forthcoming SAJBD National Conference on November 22.

In 1999, the Board introduced its biennial Human Rights Award, to be presented at its national conference. The first recipient of the award was the late Judge Arthur Chaskalson. Subsequent recipients have included Albie Sachs, Helen Suzman, Sidney Kentridge QC, Professor Philip Tobias and Benjamin Pogrund.

All were honoured for their role in combating apartheid and furthering the cause of democracy in South Africa.

In 2003, a second award was instituted, to honour community members who have rendered outstanding service in the Jewish communal field. It was named the Eric Samson Mendel Kaplan Communal Service Award, after two of our community’s foremost philanthropists and leaders.

The practice has been to present two awards, one to a lay leader and the other to a professional. Recipients have included Isaac Joffe, Colin Datnow, Isla Feldman and Prof Michael Katz.

Who will be the recipients of the above awards is still being finalised, and will be announced in due course in the lead-up to our conference.


Bridge-building with other communities


Along with upholding the civil rights of South African Jewry, fostering harmonious relations between the community and the broader society is one of the core functions of the SAJBD.

Over the past week, staff and lay leaders have been involved in a number of activities towards that end. On Saturday evening, Chaya Singer represented us at a special evening hosted by the Portuguese community to celebrate the community’s heritage and what its members have contributed to our country.

Chaya, with Charisse Zeifert, next met with representatives of the Baha’i community to share perspectives on their respective cultures and the role they see for themselves in the broader society.

In Cape Town, Gina Flash represented us at the SA Faith and Families Institute’s inaugural Theological Advisory Committee, which brings together top faith leaders in the city to support initiatives aimed at addressing gender-based violence in faith communities.

For my own part, along with National Director Wendy Kahn, I met with the newly-appointed ambassador of Germany, Walter Lindner. Over the years, the Board has had much fruitful collaboration with the German Embassy, including co-hosting a range of exhibitions on themes relating to the Holocaust and Jews who came from Germany to South Africa.

Mr Lindner, who recently spent nine months on behalf of his government in helping address the Ebola crisis, was very warm and engaging, and we look forward to working with him on future projects.


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



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