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The Board: the community’s ‘broad tent’




The secular year is drawing to a close with a flurry of communal events, whether relating to civil society activities, Holocaust commemoration, the forthcoming Chanukah festivities and interfaith initiatives.

The Board has been, and continues to be, involved with these, in partnership with other Jewish organisations as well as with organisations outside the Jewish communal fold.

In my last column, I reported on the very moving events commemorating the start of the Holocaust in Hungary and the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, organised in collaboration with the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre and the relevant embassies.

During that time, we also worked closely with the SA Union of Jewish Students in a nationwide voter registration awareness campaign for next year’s elections.

More recently, we became involved on behalf of Chabad in resolving certain problems that had arisen regarding its forthcoming Chanukah celebration, to take place at Sandton City on December 1.

Other events in December in which the Board is involved, are the annual interfaith Reconciliation Day Walk in Cape Town and a commemorative event to mark the yahrtzeit of a great Jewish philanthropist at the Great Park Synagogue in Johannesburg.

The Cape Council of the Board has played a pivotal role in organising the walk, in tandem with leaders of other faith groups in the city. Participants traditionally gather outside the St George’s Cathedral and from there proceed to the Gardens Shul and finally to the Auwal Mosque.

At each stop they are addressed on topics relevant to the theme of reconciliation and understanding between different groupings by religious and civic leaders.

At the Great Park, descendants of the so-called “Ochberg Orphans” will come together to recite Kaddish in memory of Isaac Ochberg, whose efforts and personal heroism saw some 200 Jewish orphans being brought to South Africa from Eastern Europe after the First World War.

The memorial function will give some of the descendants of these children an opportunity to repay in some part this inestimable debt they owe this great man. Afterwards, several of the participants will speak about Ochberg and his legacy.

The Board has been involved in planning and publicising the event, and our Associate Director David Saks, will be one of the speakers. For more information, contact Rabbi Shaun Wingrin on 082-449-6273/

What all of the above have in common, as already noted, is that they were, or are being put together in collaboration with a variety of other organisations and/or individuals. The latter represent a range of different interests, from the religious through to those with a human rights, youth, civil society or political focus.

This underlines how the Board sees itself, namely as a broad tent that facilitates and involves itself in the complete spectrum of Jewish life in partnership with its constituent bodies.

I am pleased to report that we have just appointed two new staff members, Aviva Moses and Janine Shamos, whose respective backgrounds in, among other things, women’s rights and international liaison, have provided us with additional capacity to extend our range in the services we provide to our Jewish community

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

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