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Wendy Kahn among world’s top 50 most influential Jews




Kahn, who was appointed SAJBD national director in 2006, is the first woman to hold this position since its inception in 1903. “I honestly have never felt undermined as a woman at the board, and have been privileged to work with many extraordinary elected and professional women,” Kahn says.

Kahn also served for five years as one of the board’s elected members, including holding the position of vice-chairperson of the Gauteng Council. Prior to her appointment, she was involved in the Jewish community, having attended Yeshiva College, and was active in Mizrachi, where she ran the He’atid leadership programme for 14 years until it became the SA-Israel Forum.

She went on to study at the University of the Witwatersrand, and obtained a Post-graduate Diploma in Management at the university’s business school. Her career began at Eskom. “Eskom became my real university, where I managed middle-management leadership development for five wonderful years,” she says.

It was then that Kahn took up her role at the SAJBD. “When I inherited my office at the SAJBD, it was freezing cold and there was no electricity. I walked in and felt the glare of 100 men looking down at me from a wall of framed pictures.

“My first task was to remove the photographs and introduce bright South African art into my office.” It was she who brought colour to the logos and work of the Board, cherishing the many different facets of our community, and embracing the diversity of our country.

Kahn has frequently taken the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement to task over its anti-Israel rhetoric, and has spoken against genocide, xenophobia, and the abuse of women. Kahn has also spearheaded several campaigns aimed at encouraging members of the Jewish community to participate in South Africa’s democratic processes.

Expressing gratitude for recognition by The Jerusalem Post, Kahn says, “I am so moved by the acknowledgement of the work that we are doing down here in the tip of Africa, especially in combating anti-Semitism and in exposing BDS hate. The very warm and heartfelt messages that I have received from around the world, and most importantly from my South African community, have been deeply moving for me.”

Zev Krengel, the Vice-President of the SAJBD, said: “The recognition is unquestionably well-deserved. Wendy works tirelessly in the interests of both world Jewry and the local community here, and certainly has tenacity like no other.

“This is a woman who works hard day and night, never lets anything important go, and fights the corner of Jewry. We are unbelievably proud of her, and I believe that this recognition couldn’t have gone to anyone better.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ronald (Ronnie) Morris

    Oct 5, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    ‘Good day Wendy, what a surprise to have seen you on ENCA (Truth, Lies, Hope) last night, Friday 4 October 2019, after so many years. You will most probably remember that I was one of the first candidates of the He’atid leadership programme to  Israel together with Sipho from Absa. I have since retired and is still involved in community work. I would love to embark on  a full time community coaching intervention and would like your advice and possible assistance. Please contact me if you can fit me into your busy schedule. Thank you very much. Shalom. Ronnie ‘

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