Stepping into big boots with humility
On the face of it a great era came to an end on Sunday for the SAJBD, with Mary Kluk and Zev Krengel stepping down respectively as national chairman and president and a new executive being elected.
I am humbled and honoured to have been chosen to lead the Board for the next two years, and am indebted to my colleagues, both lay and professional, for their support in preparing me to take up this position.
In particular, I would like to single out Mary, Zev, National Vice-Chairman Doron Joffe and National Director Wendy Kahn. Having worked closely with them over the past few years, I can testify to the extraordinary dedication and wisdom they have shown in addressing the many pressing issues confronting our community.
I have been assured by each of them and can assure you, that they are and will remain very much part of the national executive team. Their guidance knowledge and expertise will continue to be utilised and will no doubt be indispensable, given the challenges ahead ..
The new SAJBD executive has come into office at a difficult time, not just for our Jewish community and our country, but for the international community. Our conference took place against a backdrop of a global wave of horrific terrorist attacks, in France, Lebanon, Nigeria, Mali, Cameroon, Turkey and, of course, Israel.
Closer to home, our country is being confronted with mounting social, economic and political challenges. This in turn threatens to undermine the ethos of non-racialism and tolerance that remains so crucial to the health of our democratic society.
So far as our own community goes, we continue to face relatively low rates of anti-Semitism, but even so, there has been a definite upsurge in that regard. The recent visit of Hamas and its warm reception by the ruling party, generated much concern and anger in our community, with our views being strongly put to President Jacob Zuma in our pre-conference meeting with him.
All this being acknowledged, we must always balance our perspective by looking at the positive side of things. In terms of global terrorism, the world’s major powers are now clearly waking up to the seriousness of the threat and are increasingly finding ways to work together to confront it.
Regarding South Africa, we continue to be a robust constitutional democracy in which all fundamental democratic freedoms – including universal suffrage, freedom of expression, religion and association and judicial independence – are fully upheld.
So long as this is the case, I believe our country has the necessary self-correcting mechanisms to confront our problems and put things right. In this environment, Jewish communal life in all its forms, be it religious, cultural, Zionistic or other, has been able to thrive.
On behalf of the SAJBD, I pledge that we will do everything in our power not just to protect what we, as Jews, have in our country, but to enhance and strengthen this going forward.
- Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00 – 13:00