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Op-eds

SAJBD staff on the move and in the news

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
As has often been pointed out in this forum, our professional staff make up the engine room of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD).
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Jun 20, 2019

It is they who are ultimately responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation, and for putting all decisions made by the elected lay leadership into action. Their work routinely takes them beyond the confines of the board’s offices, including to Parliament, and often beyond our country’s borders. This week, three SAJBD staffers were involved in noteworthy initiatives that helped to raise the prestige and profile of our Jewish community.

From 16-18 June, National Director Wendy Kahn took part in the 6th World Jewish Congress National Community Directors’ Forum in Bucharest, Romania. This is an annual event for Jewish communal professionals from throughout the world to share experiences and expertise, and forge working relationships for the future. In 2017, the SAJBD was privileged to co-host this prestigious event in Cape Town.

Also taking place in Bucharest at this time was the first International Meeting of Special Envoys and Co-ordinators Combating Antisemitism, where the Romanian presidency of the council of the European Union issued a declaration officially affirming its commitment to “supporting international initiatives directed at tackling the challenges facing Jewish communities”.

Unlike Kahn, political officer Yanir Grindler’s travels took him just across the border to Mozambique. Once there, however, he moved about considerably, visiting remote parts of the country that were especially hard-hit by the cyclone disaster earlier this year. Grindler was joined by representatives of Cadena, a Mexican-based Jewish-headed humanitarian organisation with whom the SAJBD partnered to assist cyclone victims. He followed up on relief projects in the areas worst affected, assessed the needs of the communities, and distributed further humanitarian aid (including water filters, solar lights, pads, and hygiene kits).

We thank all those members of our community whose generous support made it possible for us to join our international counterparts in bringing critically-needed aid to our neighbours during a most difficult and traumatic time.

Last week’s column referred to the board’s role in ensuring Jewish participation in events organised for national holidays such as in Sharpeville on Human Rights Day, Soweto on Youth Day, and Tshwane on Heritage Day. This forms part of a broader SAJBD initiative to foster youth development and social cohesion by involving young Jewish South Africans, particularly school pupils, in national commemorative ceremonies.

We were most proud and gratified that this initiative, called the South African Jewish Youth National Identification Project, earlier this week received the Gauteng provincial government’s Premier Youth Excellence and Service Award for Sports, Arts, and Culture, including Social Cohesion. Congratulations to the board’s parliamentary liaison, Chaya Singer, for receiving the award, and for the part she played in obtaining this welcome public recognition for this important aspect of our work.

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

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