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Tribute to Ann Harris

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Tribute to Ann Harris

Ann Harris’ recent move to Israel truly marked the end of an era for our community. Arriving with her esteemed husband, Rabbi Cyril Harris, in the late 1980s, from the outset, Ann made herself an intricate part both of our Jewish community and the country as a whole. Like Rabbi Harris, she did so through whole-hearted identification with what was happening in the wider society, with all the problems, challenges, and opportunities it presented, and her energy and commitment to making a practical difference.

Ann made her mark in various ways, as a Jewish communal leader who as president of the African Jewish Congress represented southern African Jewry on the global stage; as a social-justice and human-rights activist; or as an accomplished lawyer and legal academic. Perhaps her most visible achievement was in being part of the husband-and-wife team who, as the public face of the Jewish-faith community, did so much to lead South African Jewry into the democratic era. During these difficult years, she and Rabbi Harris led by example, encouraging other Jews to be an active, identifying part of the transformation and to do so with optimism and pride. She was likewise extensively involved in the healing and nation building process after the transition, particularly through the social upliftment organisation co-founded by her husband, Afrika Tikkun.

Ann’s acumen and abilities went hand in hand with an unswerving integrity and the highest ethical values. We salute her for all she contributed, and wish her many more good years of health, happiness, and success.

American Jewish Committee

Since its founding in 2006, the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC’s) Africa Institute has helped to educate American Jews about the African continent and its challenges and opportunities, facilitating technical co-operation between Israel and Africa and involving itself in human-rights lobbying. It was a former South African, Stanley Bergman, who took the lead in establishing this body during his tenure as AJC president. Both he and his wife, Marion, have remained closely connected to our community, and we have frequently had the opportunity to work with them. Until recently, the Africa Institute was headed by Eliseo Neumann, with whom the Board likewise frequently worked with over many years. We were delighted to learn that Wayne Sussman has been appointed as his successor. Wayne has been involved in many aspects of Jewish communal life, including in Habonim and Limmud SA. In recent years, he has emerged as one of the country’s foremost experts on elections. We met Wayne last week to exchange views and discuss how our organisations could further collaborate going forward, and wish him all success in his new position.

Dangerous incitement

The scenes emerging from Israel following the tragic killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh are devastating. However, certain responses have ratcheted up to outright incitement, with one local political party going so far as to call for Israel’s destruction. Such hate-fuelled and inflammatory statements cross the line and at the time of writing, a response is being formulated.

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

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