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Jewish org got ball rolling at Women’s Gaol




The South African Centre for Religious Equality and Diversity (SACRED) held a most successful Interfaith Event earlier in December at the old Women’s Gaol on Constitution Hill. The topic for the evening: “In what way has your faith sanctioned or subtly encouraged male dominance?”

SACRED topThe Thursday evening event was the first in a series of Inter-Faith discussions held at the Women’s Gaol, Constitution Hill. SACRED, in partnership with ConHill, held the event with the aim of bringing faiths together to focus on the important national `16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children’ campaign. 

“Despite South Africa’s world-renowned Constitution and a legislative overhaul that safeguards women’s and children’s rights, South Africa is still home to high levels of violence against its women and children. Engaging and challenging various faiths is an often neglected way to close the gap between the rhetoric of gender equality and actually recognising the roles and rights of women and children,” said SACRED’s executive director, Janine L Shamos.

“Indeed, Africa is the continent of the faithful. At 6pm, people began to arrive at the hauntingly beautiful Women’s Gaol. From all walks of life, denominations and ages, we are very proud to say that at our first interfaith event, almost 100 people attended. And they didn’t just attend – they asked questions, commented, and engaged in debate and discussion (and really challenged many of our ‘traditional religious rules’)” explained Janine afterwards.

SACRED2 RabRob.jpg

Rabbi Robert Jacobs (PICTURED AT LEFT) gave a beautiful introduction to start the evening off on a note of hope and encouragement, and ended the evening by reading a pledge for personal action and leadership for the empowerment and protection of women and children across all faith groups.

Shamos says that SACRED “were honoured” to have had such eminent speakers as: Reuben Phasha (ConHill), Rabbi Saár Shaked (Beit Emanuel), Bishop Peter John Lee (Christ the King, Angilcan Archdiocese), Reverend Lutz Ackerman (Friedenskirche), Giddy Lief (Women for Progressive Judaism), Pastor Gordon (Image of God Church International) and Lefa Molise (Traditional Healer).

“A big thank you to SACRED chairperson, Dr Dora Wynchank, for her fantastic facilitation of the event; Lewis for his assistance to Rabbi Shaked and excellent translation skills, and to the incoming executive director of SACRED, James Lomberg, for being an incredible asset,” says Janine Shamos.


I their Dcember PDF NEWSLETTER, SACRED reports on their speakers:

SACRED5 - ShakedRabbi Saár Shaked is the current Rabbi at Beit Emanuel Progressive Shul in Parktown. Having recently moved from Israel, Rabbi Shaked (PICTURED PRESENTING AT RIGHT) stands for: lively, up to date, accessible Judaism, and Judaism that has profound connection to ancient tradition without relinquishing innovation and creativity.

Bishop Peter John Lee is the Bishop of Christ the King, Angilcan Archdiocese in Johannesburg. Educated at Gresham’s School, Holt, Norfolk and St. John’s College, Cambridge, Lee was ordained in the Church of England and has worked in South Africa since 1976. He worked with Archbishop Desmond Tutu as Canon Missioner of the Anglican Diocese of Johannesburg.

Reverend Lutz Ackermann, born in Germany, came to South Africa in 2001, as a scientist and academic, working for the University of Limpopo.  In 2012 he followed a call to pastor one of the oldest churches in Hillbrow, the “Friedenskirche” (Church of Peace). Learning about the issues of urban Africa and developing responses rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ has been a steep learning curve for him, since.

Giddy Lief is the President of Women for Progressive Judaism, South Africa. She was born into a family of charity workers and from a young age, was encouraged to help out wherever she could. She is a life-long member of Beit Menorah in Pretoria.

SACRED4 - GordonPastor Sam Gordon (PICTURED AT LEFT) is a Pastor and Missionary with Image of God Church International. He is currently working in South Africa.  Pastor Gordon is dedicated to sharing knowledge, information and wisdom with all faith groups and working together for the benefit and betterment of human kind.

Makhosi Lefa Molise is the Project Director at Vukani Mathonga Traditional Healers Projects. He is the Gauteng Provincial Coordinator for the National Interfaith Council of South Africa (NICSA), which was formed purely to seek a religious tolerance in our country and to help in rediscovering the concept of Ubuntu. He accepted his calling and trained as a Traditional Healer (isangoma) more than 10 years ago.

SACRED HOMEReverend Ackermann had this to say after the event: “My thanks go to you for bringing this group of people together and for organizing this event. I found it interesting and inspiring – certainly something to be repeated in one form or another. Also, great choice of venue, loved it!”

Jessica Sherman led us in the singing of the National Anthem – goose-bump stuff in the centre of the Women’s Gaol where so many of SA’s women stood!

A big thank you to the ConHill (Reuben Phasha and Lerato Sefumule at the helm) team who were incredible and share our vision of interfaith harmony and social action; to our speakers, participants and donors for making our first (but not last) event such a success.

For the benefit of users who would like to download, print or send the SACRED newsletter to friends or family, SAJR Online has loaded it as a PDF document – simply click here >> PDF NEWSLETTER

SACRED’s website is at and their office phone number is: 011 784-7138.

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  1. anon

    Dec 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Is there no representative from the Orthodox Jewish community.

    They comprise by far the majority of Jews.

  2. anon

    Dec 25, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    ‘What? No orthodox Rabbi.’

  3. anon from SACRED

    Jan 18, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    ‘SACRED approached several orthodox rabbis and women active in the orthodox communities. Sadly, none agreed to participate.

    However, this kind of discussion is open to all. At SACRED, we hope progressive-minded orthodox Jews will enrich our discussions at future events.

    Our invitation will always be open for full representation and participation.’

  4. Anon

    Jan 19, 2014 at 7:14 am

    \”progressive minded Orthodox Jews\”

    Can someone please clarify or give an example?

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