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Op-eds

Looking back on a very successful biennial conference

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev
On Sunday, the Board held its 49th biennial national conference, where we took the opportunity of reporting back to our constituency on our work over the past two years as well as honouring community members adjudged to have made an especially outstanding contribution to South African Jewry and the country as a whole.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Aug 24, 2017

Afterwards, the new executive committee was confirmed. I am honoured to have been entrusted with the position of National Chairman of the Board. Together with my fellow executive members - National President Mary Kluk, National Vice-Presidents Rael Kaimowitz and Jeremy Droyman (the third National Vice-President will be confirmed shortly) and National Treasurer Eric Marx.

I look forward to meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities that will undoubtedly arise during our term of office, and building on all that the Board has done to ensure the continued safety and well-being of our community.

It is always uplifting to be able to recognise Jewish community members who have played a particularly noteworthy role in building our society. On Sunday, we celebrated the multiple philanthropic achievements of John Moshal, who received the Eric Samson Mendel Kaplan Communal Service Award for a lay leader, and of Leslie Rosenberg and Molly Smith, recipients of the Rabbi Cyril and Ann Harris Human Rights Award for their founding and heading up of the Mitzvah School.

Their example should inspire us to continue to find ways in which we can contribute to the upliftment of those who have not enjoyed the kind of privileges that most South African Jews have largely taken for granted.

The presentation of the second Eric Samson Mendel Kaplan award, to Shirley Beagle, reminded us of the debt we all owe to those dedicated communal professionals who devote themselves so wholeheartedly, often going beyond the call of duty, to rendering the best possible service they can to South African Jewry.

Just prior to the conference, the Board was centrally involved in two very positive initiatives, the visit of a multi-party delegation comprising Members of the Israeli Knesset and the co-hosting, with the Japanese Embassy and Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, of an evening in memory of the heroic Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara.

Despite the short notice, the Knesset visit was a resounding success. The Board was instrumental in setting up across the political spectrum, meetings for the delegation, as well as events for the Jewish community.

These included meetings with ANC members, the Democratic Alliance in Parliament, a luncheon for opposition parties and a luncheon for the Johannesburg and Cape Town Jewish leadership.

At the Chiune Sugihara memorial evening, we had the opportunity to meet and engage with descendants of some of those who survived through the life-saving exit visas that Sugihara, without his government’s authorisation, provided for them.

It is estimated that over 30 000 people are alive today because of Sugihara’s actions, a number of whom occupy important leadership roles in our own community. In my introductory remarks, I emphasised that through remembering the life and actions of this remarkable man, we were reminded that even in the darkest times, there are people who are able to raise themselves beyond their circumstances and perform deeds of selfless heroism on behalf of their fellow human beings.    

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

 

1 Comment

  1. 1 Benjamin Friedman 24 Aug
    How can the board term the visit of Israeli Members of Knesset a resounding successs when the Government of South Africa represented by the ANC refused any official contacts with them which was an insult to Israel . What planet does the board live on ?

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