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Online conferences allow for greater participation

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SHAUN ZAGNOEV

As was done in 2018, the Gauteng conference has been divided into two parts. The first is for affiliate organisations and community members, with those attending mainly being delegates representing various organisations affiliated to the Board. It will deal with the substantive, technical aspects of regional conferences as per the constitution. The second part is for a more general audience. Both, of course, will take part online for the first time, which means on the one hand not being able to meet as usual with colleagues and friends, but on the other allows for greater participation by the community at large. This was the case with this year’s Virtual Yom Hashoah ceremony, in which more than 17 000 participated. The online platform also offers opportunities for international exposure.

At the 2018 event for the community at large, we were honoured to have President Cyril Ramaphosa in conversation with Investec’s Stephen Koseff. This year, we are no less pleased to host as keynote address the renowned speaker, author, and psychologist, Dr Edith Eger. Aged only 16 when sent to Auschwitz, Edith was forced by Josef Mengele to dance for his amusement, thereby saving herself from the fate of her parents murdered just hours before. When the camps were liberated, she was pulled, on the verge of death, from a pile of corpses. Instead of being broken by her ordeal, she has used her harrowing personal story to assist those who have suffered trauma. In the light of global concern over the resurgence of prejudice and hatred, we believe Dr Eger’s messages have never been more relevant, and that she will bring a much-needed message of hope and resilience to our conference.

Beyond COVID-19 and the specific challenges it brings, the Board continues to carry out its core mandate of upholding the civil rights of the Jewish community. I’m pleased to report that last week, the University of South Africa confirmed that all religiously observant Jewish students who missed exams on Shabbat and Shavuot will have another assessment opportunity so as not to have to wait for the supplementary dates in October. This follows extensive engagement on our part with the university, involving adapting previous accommodations to current circumstances in which assessments have to be done online.

Last week, we launched our Mandela Day video giving feedback on the projects that have been funded by the SAJBD Food Relief Fund. While there are nearly 100 of these projects, 67 of them were chosen in line with Mandela Day. The video, which has been viewed more than 2 000 times and has elicited much positive feedback, can be viewed on our Facebook page and website.

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

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