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Voices

New home for UJW Johannesburg

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On Sunday, I joined my colleagues in the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) in attending the official opening of the Union of Jewish Women (UJW) Johannesburg branch’s new premises in Percelia Estate. Over the past nine decades, the UJW has been of our community’s most active and respected social-upliftment institutions. Founded during the difficult years of the Great Depression, it immediately set itself apart from other Jewish welfare bodies at the time by devoting itself to helping all South Africans, regardless of colour or creed. Today, there are many Jewish organisations that run outreach projects on behalf of the needy in the wider society, but it was the UJW that blazed the trail.

The UJW is an important affiliate of the SAJBD, with representation on all our national and regional councils. Over the years, we have had the opportunity of partnering with it in various meaningful outreach and educational initiatives, a recent example being in assisting victims of the unrest and looting that erupted in KwaZulu-Natal last July. We wish the UJW Johannesburg many more good years of service and accomplishment in its new home.

Extending a helping hand

At the start of the COVID-19 lockdown the Board, with the generous assistance of certain donors, established the Food Relief Fund to help alleviate the economic impact of the pandemic. Since then, in close partnership with The Angel Network, we have been able to support a range of relief projects and welfare bodies countrywide. Last week, members of the SAJBD Gauteng Council and professional staff visited one of these projects, the Fingertips of Africa soup kitchen in Protea South, Soweto. While there, they assisted by working in the soup kitchen and distributed uniforms, stationery, and sanitary pads to students in the area. Fingertips of Africa was founded by Yehuda Lazarus in response to the pandemic. It supports seven organisations whose beneficiaries include the homeless in and around the Edenvale/Greenstone area, grandparents in Alexandra informal settlements who are taking care of younger generations, and orphaned and child-headed homes. We are grateful to be able to support the critical work that it and other such organisations are doing, and thank all those generous benefactors in our community who have provided us with the means to do so.

Amnesty International’s latest report

Once a highly regarded human-rights watchdog that, theoretically at least, was strictly apolitical, Amnesty International’s credibility has been progressively eroded by its obsessive antipathy towards Israel. This week, the organisation released a report that crossed the line by portraying the Jewish state as an illegitimate entity whose very existence is a problem that the international community needs to deal with. In anticipation of the expected media reports, the Board has been working with local organisations as well as its international colleagues in assessing the document and formulating appropriate responses.

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

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