SAJBD’s Mary Kluk makes 2014 predictions
Two themes that will feature prominently in 2014 are the national elections and the marking of the first 20 years of democracy in South Africa.
Both provide an ideal opportunity for South Africans to engage in a process of self-reflection regarding the road they have travelled, the successes and failures of the past two decades and what still needs to be done to realise the hopes, dreams and ideals that the 1994 transition brought with it.
The passing of our beloved former President Nelson Mandela in December last year, has lent an additional poignancy to the above anniversary. No other individual is as much identified with the successful struggle against apartheid, nor with the transition process that brought freedom, democracy and reconciliation to our country.
The emotional days and weeks that followed his passing, were marked by a spontaneous outpouring of love and gratitude from all South Africans. While we mourned the loss of a uniquely great human being, we were also celebrating his extraordinary life and the fact that thanks to him and people like him, we are today a free and united nation. It is this kind of spirit that we hope will inform the many commemorative events that will be taking place countrywide in the coming months.
The SAJBD will be running a range of projects to stimulate Jewish interest and involvement in both the election and the 20 years of democracy celebrations.
Regarding the elections, we started the ball rolling last year with the launch of our “Make Us Count” election awareness campaign. As previously reported, this included a campaign through the Jewish and social media to encourage community members, in particular young first-time voters, to ensure that they are registered to vote in the elections.
There was an enthusiastic response to this, and in addition we have seen an equally encouraging response to our calls for people to assist the Independent Electoral Commission in its work, including serving as election monitors.
In the months leading up to the election, we will further be introducing community members to the relevant parties and creating an environment of robust consideration of the election issues through debates, panel discussions, the use of the Jewish media and social media and other innovative vehicles.
Among the planned initiatives to mark 20 years of democracy are an interfaith Freedom Seder, Jewish heritage tours and book launches.
I conclude by congratulating the latest crop of Jewish matriculants, who once again recorded superb results throughout the country. In wishing them all success as they embark on the next exciting phase of their life’s journey, I would also strongly encourage them to maintain and build on their connections with the Jewish community and their Jewish heritage.
When young Jews leave their parents’ homes, maintaining their Jewish affiliations becomes a matter of choice. We hope that you will choose to remain involved, and look forward to your participation in all aspects of Jewish communal affairs in years to come.