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Op-eds

Exchange with Ramaphosa gives SAJBD conference unique relevance

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
This year, as previously noted in this column, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ Gauteng conference is, for the first time, being held in two parts. The first, held on 7 October, comprised the necessary formal, procedural components of such gatherings, and was aimed mainly at our affiliate organisations. The second, aimed at the broader community and organised around the availability of President Cyril Ramaphosa, will take place this Sunday. We are already fully booked, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology, everyone can participate via live streaming (for details, see our Facebook page).
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Nov 22, 2018

The core part of the conference will be an exchange of views between Ramaphosa and eminent business leader Stephen Koseff about the challenges currently facing South Africa, and what is being done, or could be done, to address them. The key message we wish to convey to Ramaphosa and his government is that South African Jewry is fully behind his efforts to get things back on track in our country, and will readily contribute the resources and skills we have in our community to further those goals.

This being the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, we will also celebrate and reflect on the Mandela legacy, with reference to some of those from our own community who, in various fields, have made themselves a part of his inspiring story.

The commemoration of significant historical events and personalities is in itself a worthy exercise, but applying the lessons of those times to the here and now is perhaps even more important in today’s South Africa.

Nelson Mandela, in spite of the gross injustices to which he and the majority of South Africans like him were subjected under apartheid, was able to look beyond racial categories and see the fundamental humanity of each and every individual. This enabled him to envisage a South Africa in which all citizens, while never forgetting the unhappy events of their collective past, would work side by side in forging a better future for all.

We know that in recent years, our society has progressively strayed from that ideal, yet from South Africa’s own history, it is clear how far greater divisions between its people can be bridged when sufficient good will, trust, and unity of vision exists. This was the example set by Mandela, and indeed that whole generation who ushered in the new democratic era. We can take courage and guidance from what they achieved as we strive to realise the ideals to which they devoted their lives.

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

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