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Op-eds

Nurturing Jewish leadership

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
The recently concluded Nahum Goldmann Fellowship Programme (NGFP), this year held in Israel, once again brought together a broad range of up-and-coming young Jewish leaders from around the world for an intensive period of Jewish learning, discussion, and sharing of experiences and perspectives.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Jul 11, 2019

As always, the participants found it to be extremely enriching and inspiring, particularly in the opportunities it provided for engaging with Jews from completely different backgrounds. Among the fellows at this year’s event was the South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ (SAJBD’s) Cape executive director, Stuart Diamond. He is one of scores of young South Africans who have attended at least one NGFP programme over the decades. Many of these alumni today hold senior leadership positions, whether in a lay or professional capacity, within our Jewish communal structures, including within the SAJBD. They include the board’s current Cape Council chairman, Rael Kaimowitz, who pioneered the concept of regional Nahum Goldmann programmes in South Africa. The latest of those regional programmes was held last year in Saldanha Bay.

The NGFP is one of the flagship projects of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture (MFA), a body established with the primary purpose of rebuilding Jewish life in post-Holocaust Europe. It has since become a dynamic vehicle for grooming future Jewish leaders in all parts of the world, largely through its flagship NGFP project. We congratulate our distinguished past-president, Marlene Bethlehem, on being elected for a fourth term as president of this prestigious organisation. The close, mutually enriching relationship that exists between the board and the foundation has largely been due to her dedicated efforts over many years.

SA Jewry survey, 2019 – don’t miss out!

In May this year, as previous reported, the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research at the University of Cape Town launched its Jewish Community Survey of South Africa (JCSSA). The results of the survey, which examines questions such as levels of Jewish identity and practice, attitudes towards South Africa and its future, emigration, Israel and Zionism, involvement in Jewish communal life, anti-Semitism, and political leanings, will be of critical importance in assessing our community a quarter of a century since our country’s transition to democracy.

As with previous studies of this nature, the survey is being conducted in close consultation with the SAJBD and other major communal bodies like the Union of Orthodox Synagogues, Chevrah Kadisha, South African Zionist Federation, and South African Union for Progressive Judaism. However, the degree to which it is successful will depend on how many members of our community complete the survey. Participating in this vital project – apart from the benefits for those responsible for ensuring the continued vibrancy and sustainability of our communal organisations – is easy, interesting, and enjoyable. Again, I urge those who have not yet filled out the survey to do so on www.jcssa2019.co.za. You can assist further by encouraging friends, family members, and any others you might be aware of to do likewise.

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

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