SA Organisations

Board attends WJC Congress on Rome

  • 2a-Mary Kluk tightcrop
I am writing from Rome, where I am attending a meeting of the World Jewish Congress’ (WJC) governing board, where I sit as a representative of South African Jewry. Last night, we were taken on a fascinating tour of the historic Rome Ghetto area, the world’s oldest Diaspora Jewish community.
by MARY KLUK | Oct 28, 2015

Today, nearly 150 delegates and guests have convened to discuss the situation of Jews around the world, as well as such related issues as the the current wave of terrorist attacks in Israel, the refugee crisis in Europe and the aftermath of the Iran nuclear agreement. We have just listened to an inspiring presentation by the Vice President of the Union of Italian Communities on an incredible project supporting refugees in Milan. Later, I will be facilitating an important panel discussion on BDS. 

The venue and date of this Governing Board meeting was specifically chosen to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate. Chapter Four of this landmark declaration by the Roman Catholic Church is particularly devoted to relations with the Jews, with special attention to addressing, and rethinking, the Church’s traditional anti-Semitism. Nostra Aetate thus marked the beginning of a positive new era in Jewish-Catholic relations. Tomorrow, 28 October, is the actual fiftieth anniversary of its announcement, and to mark this occasion, the Governing Board, headed by WJC President Ambassador Ronald Lauder, will attend a public audience with His Holiness Pope Francis. This will be followed by a press conference. I look forward to reporting back on this historic meeting next week.


As previously reported in this column, we are very honoured that Mr Lauder will be one of the main speakers at the forthcoming SAJBD National Conference on 22 November. Since taking over as WJC President in June 2007, Ronald has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to world Jewry, and the global impact made by the WJC during this time testifies to what he has, and is, achieving. Certainly, there is no more important Jewish lay leader in the world today, nor one who has done and is doing more to promote the well-being and fight for the rights of Jews wherever they may be.


The governing board meeting was preceded by the meeting of the Jewish Diplomatic Corp, a body established by the WJC to train and develop international young leaders. We can be proud that the current chair of the JDC is one of our own upcoming young leaders, Marc Pozniak, and that its members also include Durban’s Alana Baranov. Alana, who made a presentation on hate crimes in South Africa, is a Vice-President of the Council for KwaZulu-Natal Jewry, while Mark has already served for a number of years on the SAJBD Gauteng Council. Also with us in Rome to attend the conference are Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft and Ann Harris, respectively CEO and Spiritual Leader and Acting President of the African Jewish Congress.


A little over three weeks remain before our conference, where in addition to Ronald Lauder, we will have as guest speakers President Zuma and the renowned intellectual and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levi. To book for the event, or for further information, contact Jenni on [email protected]/ 011 645 2521.   



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