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Op-eds

Jewish leaders engage with government

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
This week, a delegation comprising representatives of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) met Minister Naledi Pandor at the offices of the department of international relations and cooperation. They discussed peace building initiatives between Israelis and Palestinians, and the meeting was cordial and constructive.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Aug 22, 2019

We reiterated our view that our country has a potentially unique and important role in this process, but that in order to do so, it needs to engage with all parties. While we differ on the details, we share the desire for the parties to work towards a negotiated, two-state solution. Pandor committed herself to continuing the dialogue with us on local and international issues, and all in all, we felt our concerns were heard.

American Jewish Committee visit

As reported in my last column, a delegation comprising the top-20 leadership of the American Jewish Committee visited South Africa last week, led by AJC President Harriet Schleifer and two long-standing friends of our community, Stan and Marion Bergman.

The board assisted us by setting up meetings with influential government representatives to discuss ways in which the AJC’s Africa Institute could build bridges between African countries and America, and practically assist South Africa in addressing its challenges.

The delegation met ministers Pravin Gordhan, Ebrahim Patel, and Zweli Mkhize, former President Thabo Mbeki, and Judge Albie Sachs. It also engaged with the Gauteng Jewish leadership, including the chief rabbi, SAZF, SAUPJ (South African Union for Progressive Judaism), and the Chevrah Kadisha. The delegation also met business leaders at an event hosted by Discovery CEO Adrian and Lauren Gore.

Another Limmud success

At the time of writing, Johannesburg Jewry had just enjoyed another successful Limmud weekend, while Durban and Cape Town were gearing up for their own Limmud events. Community members from across the political, ideological, and religious spectrum flocked to enjoy a true smorgasbord of top-level presentations on a rich diversity of Jewish-themed topics.

One only had to glance through this year’s programme to get an idea of the sheer range of subjects on offer and the impressive stature of the speakers. For those present, it was often not so much about deciding which session to attend, but which, regrettably, would have to be missed. Just like the Grahamstown Festival of the Arts, which Limmud is sometimes compared to, patrons really are spoiled for choice.

The SAJBD has been a firm supporter of Limmud since its founding twelve years ago. Like Limmud, we strive for inclusivity so that so far as possible, all members of our community feel that they have a voice. Board representatives regularly speak on Limmud platforms. This year, National Vice-Chairman Prof Karen Milner took part in a panel discussion on anti-Semitism, and Associate Director David Saks spoke about South African Jewry under apartheid. Cape Executive Director Stuart Diamond will appear on one of the panels in Cape Town.

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

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