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Op-eds

L’hitraot to an esteemed colleague

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
This week, we bade farewell to one of our most valued colleagues. Shirley Beagle joined the staff of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) in 2002, and soon made herself indispensable to the organisation. She became the administrative backbone of the board, the behind-the-scenes planner and co-ordinator who made things happen, and who consistently went beyond the call of duty to ensure that everything proceeded as planned. For this, she was a deserved recipient of the Eric Samson Mendel Kaplan Award, presented to her at the board’s last national conference in 2017.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | May 30, 2019

An especially admirable aspect of her work was the assistance she provided to Holocaust survivors wishing to claim under various compensatory and relief funds. Her unique qualities of professional competence combined with dedication and caring were just what was needed for this sensitive, complex, and (especially for more elderly people) often intimidating process. Typically, she achieved consistently excellent outcomes. She has further been the liaison between the SAJBD and the survivor community in Johannesburg.

As the Board’s events co-ordinator, Shirley was responsible for the nitty-gritty of organising our national and Gauteng conferences, Yom Hashoah, and the various public functions organised by the board from time to time, including collaborations with the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre and foreign embassies. As important was the contact she maintained between the board and its affiliate bodies, keeping them abreast of what we are doing, updating the database as required, and following up with affiliation fees. In due course, she became responsible for producing the ever-popular Guide to Jewish Southern Africa, a comprehensive directory of all Jewish communal organisations and establishments in South Africa and other sub-Saharan African countries.

Her thoroughness, attention to detail, and sheer persistence, combined with her hands-on understanding of our communal structures, made her the ideal person to head up this project. In recent years, Shirley has seen to the subscription and advertising side of the board’s Jewish Affairs journal. Thanks to her, Jewish Affairs actually produced a healthy net profit during that time, despite its small subscriber base and the formidable difficulties that all printed publications face today in terms of attracting advertising.

Fortunately, Shirley has agreed to come in occasionally as needed, so her services will not be entirely lost to us. On behalf of the SAJBD, I thank her for all she has contributed, and wish her everything of the best as she prepares to embark on the next stage of her life.

Dawn of a new era

We congratulate Cyril Ramaphosa on his inauguration as South Africa’s sixth democratically elected president, marking what we all hope will be positive new era for our country. Only posterity will show whether or not South Africa has turned a corner. For now, it is incumbent upon us to do everything we can to help make that happen.

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

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