Open letter to the Cape SA Board of Deputies and Board Response
With this in mind, we want to express our sincere distress at the Cape Board event hosted on August 30, “Women with a Voice – Advancing Leadership: Women Within the Community”. Our distress emanates from the recent Cape Board elections, where the only two people voted off the Board, were women.
Our distress was exacerbated by the fact that the women voted off were the standing vice-chairperson, Bev May, and former chairperson of the Cape Board, Li Boiskin – two senior women leaders, in a community where we have so few women in roles of such senior leadership.
Further, not only are they two senior women leaders, but they both happen to be two leaders who are well-known champions of women’s voices (and women’s rights).
They have played this role with dignity for many years and have served as highly respected leaders who are role-models to so many other Jewish women and men, alike.
Considering that the current Board of 18 members now has only four women representatives, we must express our distress at the message the Cape Board is sending out to our community about its commitment to women’s rights and gender equality.
It seems particularly shocking to host an event titled “Women with a Voice”, when two of the most audible women’s voices in elected leadership have effectively been silenced.
We write to you as concerned Jewish women, but this is and should be the concern of the entire Jewish community.
The community deserves an explanation.
Karen Kallmann, Caryn Gootkin, Shirley Phillips, Kelli Lunsky, Dayle Benjamin, Gabi Nudelman, Nicole Levin, Tamar Lazarus, Judy Sacks, Lisa Chait, Andrea Kuti, Hayley Galgut, Rebecca Hodes, Helen Lieberman, Karen Cohen, Barbara Miller, Heidi-Jane Esakov Jacobson, Nancy Krisch, Esta Levitas, and Dana Lieberman.
Independent enquiry to look into recent Cape Board election process
(In response to the open letter which appeared in last week’s Jewish Report, addressed to the Cape Board by prominent Cape Town female Jewish community members on gender representation on the Board):
We believe that there are two separate matters which the open letter raises, (namely) the matter of the outcome of the Cape Board’s recent election; and the representative issue of gender equality within our community.
The Cape Board planned the “Women with a Voice – Advancing Leadership: Women within the Community” in June 2017 with the intention of ending the month of August – ‘ “Women’s Month” – with an event to celebrate extraordinary women within our community, and provide a platform for open dialogue between the guest speakers and the audience.
This planned event by our Advocacy and Campaign Manager Philadelphia Makwakwa, with the Board’s support, was an engagement opportunity for women and men in our community.
We acknowledge that there are members of our community who are deeply unhappy with the election results, specifically that two women, the one a vice-chairperson and the other a former chairperson of the Cape Board, were voted off.
We have voluntarily undertaken an independent enquiry to be chaired by Milton Seligson SC, Hilton Saven and Sally Frankental, to ensure the integrity of the process.
The Cape Board believes that representation has to extend past casting votes and we determined to engage with all members of our community on all their matters of concern.
Head of Communications, Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies