SA Organisations

The heads, they are a’changing

  • Avrom Krengel - pic1 ILAN OSSENDRYWER
By August 2015 almost the entire long-standing top leadership of the major SA Jewish organisations will have been replaced. Succession-planning has obviously been a major issue to communal organisations and the community can expect that able newcomers have been mentored to replace them. Avrom Krengel (picture) will step down next month after 12 years at the helm of the SA Zionist Fed and by later this year all the Board chairs will have been changed too. Religious and other secular organisations are also changing management.
by ANT KATZ | Feb 04, 2015

Next month the South African Zionist Federation (Fed) will be holding their four-yearly national elective conference. Long-serving national chair Avrom Krengel will be standing down after serving for three four-year terms. The Fed’s Cape Council chairman, Ben Levitas, will also be standing down as will many of their committees.

Rhodes Mary Kluk chairperson SAJBD - LONG - Copy

Pictured ABOVE is Avrom Kengel who will stand down in March after 12 years as national Fed chair - and RIGHT is Mary Kluk who completes her second two-year term as Board national chair later this year and will likely follow precedent and move into the president's chair currently occupied by immediate past-Board national chair Zev Krengel

Avrom Krengel will by no means be lost to communal affairs as he chairs Mizrachi SA and the Gauteng IUA/UCF among his other community activities.

The big kahuna of secular Jewish organisations is the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (Board) which is more tightly regulated by its constitution and holds national elective conferences every two years. Their upcoming national conference in the second half of 2015 will see chair, Mary Kluk from Durban, having served her maximum-allowed two two-year terms and national president Zev Krengel his maximum two terms as national president. Krengel was the immediate past chair for four years and, while it appears not to be a constitutional prescription, if the common practice established over many tears of the outgoing char to fill the office of the outgoing president, one can expect Kluk to be moving to that office for a four-year term.

The national Board consists of a number of regional Boards, the biggest and most active being Cape Town (called the SAJBD Cape Council), Gauteng and Durban, all of which hold biennial conferences on the year that there is no national conference.

Regional Councils already changed

 As a result, last year saw the Cape Council replacing their long-serving chair, Li Boiskin. The incumbent is Eric Marx. The Gauteng Board also saw a change of chair from Jeff Katz to SA Jewish Report ABSA Jewish Achiever 2014 finalist Shaun Zagnoev.

The smaller regional Board committees, which all have proportionate representation on the national Board, include Pretoria and the Eastern Cape.

Another significant secular body that have seen changed at the top recently is the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Israel Centre Shaliach.

Religious leadership changes 

On the religious front, the SA Union for Progressive Jewry had a complete top-management change in 2014, with the incumbents being Cape-based as against the SAUPJ leadership traditionally having been Johannesburg based. The SAUPJ have also seen several recent changes and additions of Rabbis – with the two newest, Rabbi Margolis and Schell set to be inducted by Rabbi Emeritus Hillel Avidan on Sunday 8 February.

Orthodox Jewry has also seen its share of changes over the past year with several promi9nent rabbis both in Johannesburg and Cape Town leaving and a dramatic restructuring of the Union of Orthodox Synagogues (UOS). This restructuring resulted in the departure of 12-year veteran executive director Darren Sevitz.

The SA Union of Jewish Students has also changed leadership, which is normal given the transient nature of the job – but has passed from a particularly strong leadership to what appears to be one equal to the tough task of campus coalface politics.

All-in-all, the new cadre of leadership would appear to be younger, well mentored and, while they may share the same priorities of their predecessors, one can take for granted that the changing times will result in their implementing changing methodologies.


  1. 10 Choni 04 Feb
    Bottom line; With all these forthcoming changes S.African Jews will still be living in an exilic "cemetery".
    What about a leader or leaders who will urge young Jews to go Home to Eretz Yisrael.
  2. 9 Jonni 05 Feb
    Great news. When people are in power too long they become apathetic and smug.
    The community really needs some new dynamic leadership, with an ability to articulate their views in a more eloquent and coherent manner.
  3. 8 Yoni 06 Feb
    Mark my words, they will just recycle themselves but the same people will remain.
  4. 7 Harold 08 Feb
    the Krengel boys have done Stirling work but aren't exactly blessed with the intellectual skills nor academic background to continue as leaders of the community.
    we need leaders with intellectual  skills to debate and challenge our detractors 
  5. 6 Mordechai 10 Feb
    Great news. Hopefully the new leaders will refuse to meet and praise the Abbas's and other Israel haters of the world, and hopefully they will publically tell the youth and under 35 year old adult's to leave South Africa.
  6. 5 Harold 10 Feb
    Whilst the Krengel Boys tried hard they lack the intellectual ,academic and communication skills to lead the community and engage in meaningful debate with our detractors.
  7. 4 David 12 Feb
    Bring back David Hersch. The only person with the balls to do what is necessary in combatting anti-semitism.
  8. 3 David Hersch - SAIPAC 12 Feb
    At last!!! May the Krengel Brotherhood now finally be put out to pastures and may a new, clean, untainted, courageous and wise leadership emerge that won't have their strings pulled from behind the scenes by the Krengels and put Israel and community first, second and third and personal agendas and ambition should never see the light of day.

    I am lead to understand through the communal rumour mill that Zev Krengel might try to pull a Putin and, having served his term as a supposedly titular president, now wishes to return to being national chairman of the Board. I certainly hope this will not be the case. Dayenu, enough, maspik with the Krengel Brotherhood.

    The so-called latter day development of moving from being a chairman to a president is equally nonsense and should not necessarily be the general "rule". Therefore I hope that Avrom Krengel will not decide to take up the puppet strings and manipulate himself into being the SAZF's national president. This, however, doesn't mean we should create an opportunity for the ever amorphous and inappropriate Jonathan Silke to remain in his elated kavod position and remain president. It is time he too was sent out to pasture.

    The South African Israel Public Affairs Committee
    Cape Town
  9. 2 David 04 Mar
    I am ashamed to read the comments above about people who have put their efforts time and hearts into working for the community. 'Yichas' - yes but work plenty.
    IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP ALL THE PEOPLE HAPPY ALL THE TIME '--- or have you all forgotten that - or maybe chosen to ignore it.  We Jews are generally are very good at this when criticizing our own.
    Let's stop the whining  and bitching and support them in their efforts
  10. 1 Jacob Goldin (U.S.) 04 Mar
    David, you are being too kind on us Yiddin, if we could please 10% of Jewry happy 5% of the time, we would be doing well!
    Remember that old joke from the record titled something like "You Must Be Jewish" in the early Sixties where PM Golda Meir and Pres (I think the incumbent was) Carter are discussing.
    CARTER: "Madam Prime Minister, you think you have problems. You are the head of 2 million people while I am the head of 250 million people!"
    (Oh how those numbers have changed)
    MEIR: "Mister President, you are the head of 250 million people, but I am the head of 2 million Prime Ministers!"


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