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Parness has no authority to speak on behalf of Reference Library



Maxine Fine

The Zionist Federation is happy that the Jewish Report is assuring the community that the library is, indeed, alive and well. However, your article contains inaccuracies that need to be corrected.

The library falls under the Zionist Federation. The director, Isla Feldman is in charge. Maxine Fine is the qualified librarian. Marcia Parness is involved with the Joe Green Audio Visual Library but has nothing at all to do with the Isie Maisels Reference Library. She is not a volunteer at the reference library and has made some inaccurate declarations and appeals on its behalf. 

The library is funded by the Zionist Federation. It now employs two fulltime workers, the librarian, Maxine Fine and the assistant, Eric Mathobo. This year money will be invested in upgrading the library management system and catalogueing tools. The Zionist Federation will pay for this. The library is definitely not funded by money raised by Parness.

The Zionist Federation takes exception to the fact that an article was written in your newspaper without consulting the director, Isla Feldman or the librarian. Neither were included in the photograph nor interviewed. This strikes us as irresponsible.

As regards book donations, Marcia Parness is not privy to the library’s collection development guidelines. There is a small budget for buying new books and we definitely appreciate monetary donations to buy books. 

We do not want books from book clubs. What we do want is very recent non-fiction books (within the past five years), in English, on all aspects of Israeli life, politics and society. We also welcome very recent non-fiction books on South African Jewry and all that concerns them.

Mrs Parness is not in a position to make declarations about the loan policy of the library. She does not understand the issues and the rationale for the Zionist Federation’s decision to make this a reference library.


SAZF Isie Maisels Reference Library


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Marcia Parness

    Jan 29, 2015 at 9:26 am

    It was with amazement that I read Maxine Fine’s letter in the Jewish Report – 28th January 2015.

    It is a pity that Maxine did not take the trouble to learn the background to the library before

    putting pen to paper. It has been a problematic journey over many years.

    I don’t believe that her reading of Suzanne’s article was correct. At no stage did either of us say

    that I was currently raising funds for the Issie Maisels Reference Library, or that I volunteered for it. However, it appears that she was equally upset about

    her picture not appearing.

    I have been a member of the library committee since my student days and had the privilege of

    learning from the greats, such as the late Joe Green, Solly Yellin, Moshe Natas etc.

    This story goes back 5 years when the SAZF and the SAJBD withdrew all funding from the libraries and

    there was an intention to close it down and bring tenants into the space; dispose of its contents, our history and our gems of knowledge (which by the

    way, are not found on the internet). To many of us the thought was abhorrent, and we fought to stop this happening. However, as there were no funds

    available, money had to be raised to keep the doors open, pay rent and a librarian. We condensed the area used by 50 %. (Lionel Slier need not be embarrassed by the reprint of his letter, because it was true at the time.)

    The other task that had to be undertaken was moving into the 21st Century, and converting the Joe Green Audio Video Library to a DVD facility. Leon Lever

    volunteered his expert services, and today, with Eric Mathobo’s technical skills, can boast a library of 3,000 titles for the community to borrow and enjoy. We continue to purchase and upgrade the contents on a regular basis. To keep up to date we need funding.

    Without the generous financial support of certain individuals, and the membership fees, the libraries would have closed. The Jewish Report, Geoff Sifrin and Robyn Sassen alerted the Community to our plight. It was not easy, but we managed to keep the doors

    open. Since Dec 2013 the SAZF made the decision to take over the funding once again, however the commitment is to the Reference Library, and the now well established Joe Green Audio-Visual Library. In this technological era, a computer and internet availability is a must. The audio visual library needs a computer


    The fiction library is currently housed together with the audio visual library, but in need of new titles. We should appreciate donations of novels, in good condition, with a Jewish theme for the public to borrow.

    With the new opening hours of the libraries, I hope that every one reading this will have many happy hours enjoying and learning from what is available.

    Marcia Parness

    Joe Green Audio Visual

    Library (Volunteer)

    Hon Life President


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