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Bethlehem honoured for ‘remarkable’ leadership

  • CommunityMFJCMeeting2MarleneBethlehemandDrJeniFriedman
“I want to pay tribute to the thoughtful and visionary leaders with whom I have been fortunate to work these past four years,” said Marlene Bethlehem, the outgoing president of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture (MFJC), at the Zoom meeting of its board of trustees on 8 June.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Jun 11, 2020

In her final meeting as the organisation’s president, Bethlehem presided over a gathering of representatives from Jewish organisations from across the globe, including the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, the Zentralrat of German Jews, the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the Orthodox Union, and CONIB (the Brazilian Israelite Confederation).

Present at the meeting were also a number of leading Jewish scholars, including two former chancellors of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Jonathan Arkush, who represents the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was elected to replace Bethlehem as president for the next two years.

Arkush pointed to Bethlehem’s “unparalleled empathy”, and her commitment to the cause of the Jewish people globally. He expressed how much he had enjoyed her leadership over the last four years, her sense of humour, and her “utter decency”, that he believed singles her out as a truly remarkable Jewish leader.

Although Bethlehem is vacating the presidency of the MFJC, she is only “stepping out and not stepping away”. She will join former president, Professor Ismar Schorsch, in the role of honorary president, which will allow the MFJC to call on her wisdom in the future. The South African Jewish community will continue its strong involvement with the MFJC, with Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies Chairperson Rael Kaimowitz, himself an alumnus of the International Nahum Goldmann Fellowship, replacing Bethlehem as the South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ representative on the MFJC board of trustees.

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