SAUPJ's open letter to the Orthodox community

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The Wynberg Progressive Shul in Cape Town came under fire last week after having invited members of the Open Mosque to have Iftar (Breaking of the fast during Ramadan) with them on Friday night. The media were also present and after the story ran both the SA Union for Progressive Judaism leadership and the Moslem leadership were “fired with questions,” says SAUPJ national chairman Alvin Kushner, pictured. Read his open letter to the Orthodox community...
by ANT KATZ | Jul 06, 2016

Kushner told JR Online that one of his responses to a leading question by a reporter was taken out of context which led to him getting three complaints from members of the Orthodox community, “and more may be offended,” by the out-of-context quote, he says.

Kushner has therefore asked JR Online to publish an open letter from him to the Orthodox community.

Open letter to the Orthodox community

It’s a week since the Progressive movement invited the leadership and membership of the Open Mosque to break their fast and join us and pray in our Shul in Wynberg last Friday night.

At the outset the decision to host this community in our Shul was considered by some to be controversial. However we are delighted to report that the response that we had from the wider Jewish community was overwhelmingly positive and most supportive.   

We would be naïve if we didn’t assume that there will be minorities from  the Jewish community, whether Orthodox or Reform as well as members of the Moslem Community who may feel uneasy about Friday night’s deviation from rigid tradition.

Reference in this regard was made in response to a leading question speculating on the possible Orthodox reaction only. I had responded that some of the Orthodox community may be unhappy about our event. Obviously I cannot speak on behalf of the Orthodox community and I wish to assure that there was no intention to undermine any religious group. If anyone has been offended I apologise unreservedly.

To welcome the stranger is a mitzvah and obligation that is shared by Jews of all persuasions.

Alvin Kushner

National Chairman, South African Union for Progressive Judaism 
Member of the Executive Board, World Union for Progressive Judaism


  1. 7 Eddy Stern 06 Jul
    I believe the Progressive Union should be congratulated for a wonderful initiative that if built upon can only bring much good to our Jewish Nation .
    If I can help in a small way I will be only to pleased to do so.

  2. 6 nat cheiman 06 Jul
    I agree with Mr Kushner, but caution that in the light of the anonymity of non Jewish individuals, more specifically, from the Islamic faith, one never knows who a terrorist is, or not. If it was easy to identify terrorists, there would be no terrorist incidents/bombings.
    Therefore, lest a delinquent situation arise, it is, in my opinion, not a sound place ( a shul) to invite non Jews in order to attempt a mitzvah.
    There are a host of other concepts that may be explored without potentially sacrificing the congregants safety. 
  3. 5 Herbert Hirsch 06 Jul
    I am a member of Temple Israel,  Green Point,  since its
    foundation in the early 1940s and also,  inter alia,  a former Council member.
    I wholeheartedly support the action taken by Temple Israel,  Wynberg,  and the response by Alvin Kushner.
    The more outreach the better for all concerned !   
  4. 4 nat cheiman 11 Jul
    I don't want to say "I told you so", but my comment on 6 July warned NOT TO INVITE NON JEWS.
    The unassailable truth is that terrorists are radical Islamists, and with no respect at all, look the same as their brothers.
  5. 3 Tony 22 Jul
    To welcome the stranger....???

    Allah hath cursed them [the Jews] for their disbelief.[Surah IV, v. 46]

    Stranger is too kind-a-word, however misguided.
    Why on earth would you want to sit down with someone who curses you (not even 'behind your back')?

    But, hey, your entitled to host anyone in your 'temple'
  6. 2 C D Goldberg 26 Aug
    The Wynberg Temple deserves to be congratulated for taking the step in inviting members of the Open Mosque for the breaking of their Ramadan Fast. Dialogue between Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus needs to be intensified and supported in South Africa and the Jewish Community must embrace the South African Constitution and whilst fostering dialogue between all faiths, tackle Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial in a big and organized way. It will be nice to see a substantial growth in Judaism and the Jewish way of life in South Africa. May South Africa be a light unto other nations and prove to the rest of the world that tolerance and respect towards the beliefs of others is the correct way to go. Orthodox, Reform and Egalitarian have to work together, for we have to guard against another Holocaust from ever happening ever again.
  7. 1 David B 04 Sep
    I still have a problem as an 'Infidel' inviting the 'True Believer' into my Shull - call me paranoid, as is your choice.
    In my opinion, nothing will ever allow [Hi David - this has been edited for legal reasons  -ED] the people who must be chased into the Mediterranean sea, so that my traditional homeland can be usurped. 

    To find out why something has been edited, feel free to e-mail [email protected]


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