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Voices

Meeting and greeting

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After a busy week in Israel as part of a Jewish leadership delegation, I spent some time in the United States, where I met Jonathan Greenblatt, Susan Heller Pinto, and Shaya Lerner of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The relationship we have forged with the ADL over decades is a very important one, and in fulfilling our core mandate to protect the civil rights of our community, we continue to benefit from the advice and resources that it so generously makes available.

The meeting was an opportunity to update one another on trends and challenges after a long hiatus. They were supportive of the work we do, and were especially interested in hearing how we’re combatting the threat from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions group. Greenblatt observed that the issues we face in South Africa tend to be a harbinger of what takes place in other parts of the diaspora, particularly on university campuses.

During my visit, I also had the opportunity of meeting Stanley and Marion Bergman once again, who updated me on the work they are doing across Africa, including through the American Jewish Committee Africa Institute that they founded. It was a warm, productive meeting and we hope to continue building on these international connections.

Jewish Affairs and the drama of South Africa’s liberation

The latest issue of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies journal, Jewish Affairs, has just come out, with a special focus on Jews in the anti-apartheid struggle. It includes an edited transcript of the interview I conducted last month with Paul and Nicholas Goldreich, who share their fascinating memories of growing up on Liliesleaf Farm when it served as the secret headquarters of banned resistance movements. I encourage those interested in Jewish history and heritage, particularly the history of our own remarkable community, to go to the site, https://www.jewishaffairs.co.za/ and browse through the more than 500 articles that have appeared over the past 14 years. Even better, add yourself to our subscription list by writing to the editor, David Saks (david@sajbd.org).

Once again, I would like to mention the successes we have had in addressing recent instances of university exams scheduled on yom tov or Shabbat. We are fortunate to live in a country where religious rights and freedom are fully protected, but even so, problems of this nature are often very complex and resolving them can take an enormous amount of sustained effort. As the organisation mandated to uphold Jewish religious rights and freedoms, we’ll continue to exert ourselves to the utmost to ensure that no member of our community is unfairly disadvantaged because of his/her religious practices.

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

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