The Subcommittees

by Rael Koping, Advocacy Chairperson 2017-2020

The Advocacy subcommittee is guided by the following objectives of the Cape SAJBD:

  • to act on behalf of the Western Cape Jewish community in all matters affecting its relationship with the government and with provincial, local and other authorities, whether statutory or non-governmental;
  • to promote harmonious relations between the Western Cape Jewish community and all sections of the population in the Western Cape;
  • to maintain fraternal relations with Jewish communities and institutions in other lands
  • to further respect for and the application of fundamental human rights for all sections of the population of South Africa

The Advocacy subcommittee is made up of volunteers from the board and community co-optees. Each member of the subcommittee is able to choose a portfolio within this subcommittee that they will be responsible for (i.e. minority rights, political relations, economic empowerment, media relations). Each portfolio may submit projects to the subcommittee that attempt to address a relevant issue. Subcommittee members will then vote on which project they want to pursue. The agreed projects are forwarded to the board for approval. Each project has one (or a few) project champions (managers) who are responsible for operations and fitting within an allocated budget.

A simple example would be organising a community talk with speakers on South Africa’s political climate. This project would have one or two project managers who are responsible for a specific task based on their respective portfolio. This project could fall under a number of portfolios, including politics, media and economics. The portfolio manager of the politics portfolio would then invite and host politicians at the event, and need to nurture those relationships for future events. Similarly, the portfolio manager of the media portfolio would need to invite relevant media personnel and the portfolio manager of economics would invite the economic speakers, as well as any other tasks necessary for the event that fall under their respective portfolio.

This matrix system allows Advocacy to delegate important tasks to project champions, who can achieve objectives and further the work of the subcommittee. It ensures every member has the opportunity to get involved and direct activities to effect the change they envision in the community.

Advocacy demands creative input and operational participation from its members. It has historically met every second week, but also has a reasonably active WhatsApp group. We try to keep meetings and meeting times to a minimum.

In the last year, Advocacy has planned four events, but was only able to host two because of the unusual circumstances 2020 brought. These events were:

  1. Public Debate on Political Climate: The Guest Speakers were Hlumelo Biko (Political Activist) and Prof Kosheek Sewchurran of the GSB and hosted by Sigle Ngobise (Zulu Jewish Talk show host). It was held at the Gardens Old Shul and was broadcast on Facebook. The event drew a crowd of 80 split evenly between community and outsiders. It was well attended by politicians and administrators. The Facebook viewership was about 350 views.
  2. Public Debate on Economic Climate: The Guest Speakers were Jonny Copelyn of HCI, Tim Harris of Wesgro and Marianne Mertens of the Daily Maverick. Attendance figures were similar to Event 1. (Same numbers, but a different crowd.)

While some of the board’s work is necessarily confidential, there is huge scope for volunteerism if the appropriate platforms are created. Advocacy serves as ambassadors to the community, which requires a level of professionalism and a familiarity with the board’s position on a spectrum of issues. In order to create a volunteer platform, a comprehensive induction course is required with specific training on the position of the board on certain matters and messaging which enters the public domain. This is a work in progress. Advocacy encourages the co-option of candidates from the community (to the subcommittee) who have been vetted by the board for this function.

By Tzvi Brivik, Antisemitism & Legal chairperson 2019-2020

The Cape SAJBD is committed to safeguarding the religious and civil rights as well as the status of the Jewish community. The Antisemitism & Legal subcommittee considers whether these objectives can and should be met using legal means. It also is tasked with combatting antisemitism within the prescript of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, as well as the Criminal Procedure Act and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act. 

Antisemitism & Legal will consider various antisemitic transgressions as well as complaints arising out of antisemitic conduct received from our community, with the mandate of either taking immediate action or in more serious matters, presenting to the full board and advising on the options available. 

Antisemitism & Legal also considers such issues as the legal framework within the Cape SAJBD functions relating to its mandate and jurisdiction and, where necessary, interpretation of those laws and documents, as well as those of the affiliate organisations to assist in resolving any disputes.

By David King, ongoing Country Communities chairperson

One of the key responsibilities of the Cape SAJBD is to ensure the wellbeing of all our constituents in the Western Cape. The Western Cape with its total area of 129,462 km² means that we have a rather large commitment in providing service to all Jews in our province.

While the focus of the board’s work is centred around the urban area of the Cape Town Metro, it is often forgotten that many Jews live in the outskirts and in smaller communities within the greater Western Cape. The wellbeing of these communities and Jews fall in the ambit of Country Communities.

The focus of County Communities’ work is to ensure:

  • Connection to Jewish Identity
  • Support in matters of antisemitism
  • Ensure that the Jewish way of life remains protected and possible
  • Cemetery repairs and maintenance
  • Connection of Jewish community
  • Keeping the communities up to date with issues affecting the wider community

Throughout the last term of office, a concerted effort has been made to bridge the gap with the outlying communities. Some of the activities performed by the board over the past two years included:

  • Visiting and partaking in Shabbat Services and dinner with Somerset West and Stellenbosch communities and updating them with details surrounding the Board and the community
  • Shabbaton in Hermanus
  • Visit to Plettenberg Bay Shul
  • Luncheon at Paarl Shul
  • Country Communities Zoom sessions during COVID-19 pandemic
  • Establishing a Country Communities WhatsApp group

The board also assisted and dealt with the following issues within these areas:

  • Desecration at Wellington Cemetery
  • Vandalism at Strand Cemetery
  • An antisemitism incident at a Strand School
  • Assisting with individuals to lead services and funerals
  • Upkeep of certain cemeteries in smaller communities

This portfolio is critical in ensuring that all Jews feel a deep and positive connection to their Jewish Identity and do not become lost souls. As Executive Director Stuart Diamond says, “The Cape SAJBD is for all Jews living in the Western Cape and not only the main center of Cape Town.” The country communities have always played such an important and vital role in the building of communal structures in the Cape, and we must ensure that we continue to provide service to these communities.

By Adrienne Jacobson, Generation Next chairperson 2017-2020

The Generation Next portfolio has seen a revival and was chaired by Adrienne Jacobson from 2017 until 2020. Together with Viv Anstey and Stuart Diamond, this subcommittee’s vision has been to connect, engage and empower young adults across the spectrum of diverse, existing and previously unengaged organisations, and to ensure that the voice of young adult leadership is heard and contribution to our community, valued.

We also work to support young adult organisations with leadership development and strategic resources, workshops and think tanks to meet the challenges that they face. 

We have a multifaceted approach, catering to unique core needs and issues across the different age group categories and segments of the young adult spectrum. 

Work we have done:

  • Exercised the SAUJS and Cape SAJBD mandate of ensuring the rights, interests and values of Jewish students at the University of Cape Town and other campuses
  • Provided support for SAUJS during Israel Apartheid/ Awareness Week (IAW), in terms of strategy and response
  • Influence of the Cape SAJBD’s No Place for Hate campaign on SAUJS initiatives, particularly the IAW strategy and ‘Spread Hummus Not Hate’ campaign
  • Strategic vision alignment and leadership workshop for SAUJS’ 2020 strategy   
  • Campus impact network 
  • Implementation of an antisemitism helpline for support and action of antisemitic incidents on campus 
  • Introducing the Cape SAJBD’s No Place for Hate campaign at Herzlia campuses 
  • Workshops with teachers in middle and high school to implement the No Place for Hate campaign in a meaningful and relevant way 

Our recent think tank meeting has mobilised every young adult and youth organisation in our community across the diverse spectrum to address needs, identify issues and collaborate on meaningful projects together; to build a more relevant, inclusive and collaborative climate; to encourage networking and joint projects, volunteering, advocacy and philanthropic opportunities. 

Our pilot project together is an interactive online young adult calendar, where events in different organisations can be organised and shared in a dynamic manner.

Projects going forward include a mentoring programme; internship, employment and work shadow opportunities; and ongoing collaborative functions between the organisations, including ongoing strategic workshops to all organisations, and inclusion of young adult engagement in the Cape SAJBD’s Advocacy efforts. 

New Subcommittee

The Interfaith and Intercommunity Subcommittee works to create links of friendship and culture with the many religious groups in Cape Town. It has a varied programme of annual events and many interfaith contacts in the Western Cape. It is a valuable tool in the fight against antisemitism through informal education.