CHAIRMAN’S REPORT 2018
It is with much pleasure that I present my report for 2018, a year full of challenges. Through our committee, our professional team and our partner organisations we have tried our best to turn these into opportunities.
After the prior Board conference and elections, the Board took the concerns raised by affiliate organisations seriously, culminating in the appointment of the Seligson Commission consisting of Adv. Milton Seligson SC, Hilton Saven and Dr Sally Frankenthal to examine the election and all allegations that surrounded it. The Board accepted the findings and have implemented all the recommendations of this commission.
To this point, Mooyeen Castle, Prof Hugh Corder, Judge Dennis Davis and Philip Krawitz are currently examining the Cape Board’s constitution and electoral processes. The Committee has undertaken to include communal input and participation in this process. An opportunity for this is available at today’s conference and we encourage you to complete the questionnaire and place them in the boxes provided. When the process is finalised, a meeting will be held with all affiliates to adopt the recommended changes. The deadline for this is prior to the 2019 Cape Board conference.
The Board will launch its strategy, NO PLACE FOR HATE. Although we have been using this over the last 6 months, the official launch provides further impetus for an exciting rollout, including partnerships, alliances and other opportunities around the theme for organisations and individuals from within the community, as well as outside of it.
Our primary role is to secure, promote and empower our community. To stand up to injustice, prejudice or anti-semitism. However, we also stand up, wherever possible and appropriate, against injustice levelled at anyone or any community. To date we have already spoken up on various issues, not directly affecting our community. These have all been well received by people and has been picked up by major news outlets. Through these actions we create opportunities to partner and network with like-minded South Africans who agree - there is no place for hate in any form in our society.
Securing our community involves providing suitable legal and political responses to antisemitism through our Justice sub-committee; promoting our community is done through the advocacy sub-committee carried out on our behalf with diverse partners in legal, political, business and civil society spaces both through political lobbying and through intercommunity activities and events. Our community sub-committee tries to empower us through events like this conference, Yom Hashoah, talks and dialogues, and our Generation Next sub-committee looks at activities like Launchpad and the Campus Impact Network training programme.
Secure the community: LEGAL AND POLITICAL RESPONSE TO ANTISEMITISM
JUSTICE Sub Committee
Michael Donen (chairperson), Glen Heneck, Michael Kushner, Rowan Polovin and Johnathan Silke
Professionals: Gwynne Robins, Philadelphia Makwakwa
NO PLACE FOR HATE – antisemitism, racism and prejudice
Countering antisemitism is one or of the raison d-etres of the Cape Board’s existence and it is known as the go-to organisation for such complaints. Although we are still fortunate that in South Africa our levels of antisemitism are strikingly low when compared to Europe and America, we have found some worrying trends developing, specifically when conflating anti-Israel rhetoric with antisemitism.
Below are incidents and complaints that we have dealt with
- We have successfully handled a complaint about cargo pants embellished with a Nazi party emblem on sale in a clothing chain (Liza-Jane Saban was quoted in this connection in the Times Live (9.4) and the Herald (10.4).
- We met with Captain Coetzee, Station Commander, Table View Police Station, following a complaint the Board had laid of police refusing to investigate a case of crimen injuria laid following antisemitic abuse.
- We met a DA Caucus from Western Cape Provincial Government after antisemitic remarks were made in the Provincial Parliament by Sharon Davids, to discuss those remarks, as well as to plan opportunities to engage with them.
- We arranged for Palestinian graffiti to be removed from a wall on the N2/M3 interchange.
- We held a debriefing with Herzlia, CSO, Judith Cohen and Prof Milton Shain over an episode in which Herzlia students arriving to continue their work in upgrading the Vista School were met with antisemitic posters put up by the vice principal, who refused to remove them. A disciplinary hearing by the Department of Education found him guilty of insubordination and intimidation of the principal.
- After an antisemitic episode when Bloubergrant High School learners tried to intimidate Sinai Academy learners by holding up a swastika poster with the word NAZI underneath it, Rabbi Deren met with the principal who agreed to work with Sinai Academy on possible ways to challenge antisemitism in his school.
- We met with Debbie Shäfer, the Provincial Minister of Education, and expressed our concern that a pattern of antisemitic activity in schools was emerging. Efforts should be made to educate learners on the definition of antisemitism as there was much ignorance about the concept and we proposed a proactive No Place for Hate poster campaign in Western Cape schools. She agreed that the Board could facilitate the distribution of our Charter of Compassion and Resolution of Respect posters in schools, directly. Marlene Silbert is enabling this through her workshops held at schools across the city.
- We arranged to print out the definition of antisemitism for distribution at a provincial government level as there is much ignorance as to what it entails.
- Mr Hovsha and Ms Makwakwa met with WC Minister of Arts, Culture and Sport, A. Marais who agreed to endorse the Cape Board’s “No Place for Hate “campaign and offered to partner with it on the Board’s Africa Day Event.
- Mr Hovsha and Ms Saban worked closely with the Head of JLL at Herzlia to encourage the 2018 matrics to attend skills training sessions to deal with antisemitism at SA university campuses.
- Closely allied to countering antisemitism is the work of the Hate Crimes Working Group, on whose executive Joshua Hovsha sat as a Board representative. In this connection he has attended a workshop on a Restorative Justice Proposal for the Hate Crimes Bill, participated in a Hate Crimes Workshop Conference call re terms of reference for its report and with Philadelphia Makwakwa joined the Scalabrini Centre, the Triangle Project, and other NGO’s to hand over a Hate Crimes Working Group petition to Parliament. They have responded to the latest version of the Hate Crimes Bill released in March with a goal of a Bill which would protect vulnerable groups from hate. They have also reviewed the findings of the HCWG Monitoring Report which was launched at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre in February, an event attended by the Board professionals.
In line with our No Place for Hate campaign and our Jewish history of persecution and expulsion, the Board is also concerned when other communities are confronted with hate speech and persecution – as we are taught in Pirkei Avot, “Other people’s dignity should be as precious to you as your own.”
- Accordingly, we have worked closely with refugee communities who are severely disadvantaged by the closure of the Cape Town Home Affairs office despite the Supreme Court ordering it to be re-opened. Ms Makwakwa attended a Home Affairs meeting with the Director of Stakeholder Management Refugees Reception Office at the Sonke Gender Justice offices as well as a Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office dialogue on “The status and future of the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office and South Africa’s Refugee Protection Framework” and the World Refugee Day event hosted by the City Council.
- We organised a “No Place for Hate” World Refugee Day event, featuring organisations Africa Unite, PASSOP, I AM and Turquoise Harmony Institute (THI). The evening’s speakers Fwamba Mukole, (Africa Unite), Rabia Inal, (THI) and Tokiti Saadi Ali, (Passop and I am, Lgbtqia+ Refugees and Asylum Seekers), Viv Anstey and myself. It was a well-attended, moving and informative event. Prior to this event, Ms Makwakwa met with the chairmen of the Congolese, Burundi and Somalian organisations as well as Africa Unite, to finalise preparations for World Refugees Day.
- We hosted a meeting with Chief Autshumao Francisco Mackenzie, Chairperson of the Western Cape Legislative KhoiSan Council and Headman Joe Damons. The Human Rights Council has recently released a report acknowledging that the KhoiSan form a distinct group that has suffered multiple forms of discrimination and marginalisation. The Government has been given until 31 March 2019 to recognise the rights of the Khoi and San communities, to remove their apartheid classification as Coloured and fast-track land redistribution for them. We have connected them with organisations that assist NGO’s with capacity building.
- I wrote to Moulana Aftab Haider, the head of the Shiite community in South Africa, to express support for their community after the brutal attacks on the Verulam mosque.
- I wrote to the Cape Accord, an alliance of Muslim organisations formed to work against hate speech.
- Our professionals have met with Dr Hilary Bama, Cape Town co-ordinator of the Federal Republic of the Southern Cameroons, Julius Lumumba treasurer and Taku Philippino, National secretary, who wanted to publicise the recent human rights abuses by the Northern Cameroon forces, resulting in thousands fleeing to Nigeria.
- Our professionals also attended an Institute of Justice and Reconciliation film screening on gender justice and reconciliation, a panel discussion on “Buying into racism" and an SA Reconciliation Barometer report. Such meetings help with networking.
- An op-ed by Gwynne Robins on the persecution of members of the Hizmet group (THI) was published in the Cape Times and the Star.
- Adv. Michael Donen and Ms Robins attended the commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda. Ms Robins lit the candle to represent the Holocaust and other genocides.
To quote British author Howard Jacobson “What needs to be insisted on is that Zionism is integral to the Jewish mind and imagination. Those who say they are against Zionism but not Jews are speaking in riddles” and the BDS strategy to delegitimise only the Jewish state and put it to different standards from the rest of the world is inherently antisemitic.
Mr Hovsha. Ms Saban, Ms Makwakwa and I participate in regular Fairplay telethons with the SAZF, SAUJS to counter BDS threats.
We have also met with an art foundation to discuss BDS threats to boycott it because the father of one of the funders had links to Israel.
We assisted SAUJS in the lead up to Israel Apartheid Week with the conceptualisation and implementation of the RESPECT campaign which gave the students a positive voice before the negative anti-Israel rhetoric commenced by the various student BDS organisations.
UCT - Proposed Academic Boycott and IAW
Many hours and resources have been spent together with the SAZF and SAUJS fighting the proposed academic boycott of Israeli institutions at UCT. We also coordinated a meeting with Jewish academics to discuss strategy and ideas around this. Currently, the Senate meeting to discuss this has been postponed to September.
In addition, we first met with and later lobbied UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price and Head of Student Affairs Edwina Brooks to guarantee and afford the Jewish students on campus appropriate rights and protections during this year’s Israel Apartheid Week. We were not entirely satisfied with the processes or assurances given although the event proceeded without major incident. Together with SAUJS and the SAZF, we will endeavour to work closely with the new Vice-Chancellor, Prof Phakeng in this regard as well as in any other constructive areas on campus.
We held a closed meeting with former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Alon Liel and his wife Rachel.
We work closely with the SAZF on a number of issues and I would like to thank its chairman Rowan Polovin for all his support.
PROMOTE the community: ADVOCACY WITH DIVERSE PARTNERS IN LEGAL, POLITICAL, BUSINESS & CIVIL SOCIETY
Glen Heneck, chairman, Viv Anstey, Leaza Cowan, Michael Bagraim, Li Boiskin, Rael Koping, Johnathan Silke, Marco van Embden
Professional: Philadelphia Makwakwa
Li Boiskin and Rael Koping attended the Afrikanerbond Centenary celebrations in Paarl and were welcomed by name in the chairman’s address. The keynote address was given by President Ramaphosa. Mr Maimane, and Mr Lekota were also there.
National Government: Mr Hovsha, Leaza Cowan, Daphne Miller and Ms Saban attended a Parliamentary debate on violence against women and children for the 16 days of activism.
Ms Makwakwa holds the position of advocacy and campaign co-ordinator in which connection she attends many meetings and provides the Board with valuable insights. She has attended dialogues on gender rights, university crises,the economy, freedom of expression, public interest litigation, community protests and reconciliation. She has attended a luncheon with UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, who wished to partner and collaborate with Civil society and was a guest of Mr Matshediso, Deputy-Director: Strategic Partnerships, Department of Science and Technology to the Africa Utility Week as well as its Africa Utility banquet; has met with Zakhele Mbhele, DA MP, to discuss black business in Cape Town and with Judge Mgoqi who sits on the Government’s gender commission and the Land reparation Commission.
Provincial Government: Mr. Hovsha attended the unveiling of the Provincial Heritage Site at Old Granary Complex, Cape Town by the Western Cape Arts and Culture Dept. He or Ms Makwakwa have attended Western Cape Parliament house sittings, the Western Cape Provincial Standing Committee on Community Safety networking and mapping suitable partnerships and the Western Cape Provincial Standing Committee on the Premier.
Local Government: Ms Makwakwa attended the City of Cape Town’s Economic and Environment cluster meeting as a guest of Counsellor Gillion Bosman; the City of Cape Town briefing on the 2018/19 Draft Budget; a networking platform to meet with the City of CT Councillors; Mayoral Committee meetings; the City of Cape Town’s Safety and Social Services committee’s Counsellor meeting and she discussed with Councillor Stuart Diamond how to map out the provincial legislature and City of Cape Town structure and ways of engagement with the Western Cape Minister A. Marais of Arts, Culture and Sport on contributions to the Africa Day Concept.
Diplomatic: Ms Makwakwa was a guest of the French and Italian Consulates at Europe Day at Alliance France, was invited to a private Italian National Day gathering, at the Zeitz Mocca, which was attended by Western Cape business leaders, provincial government and City of Cape Town leaders that led to fruitful networking and she met with Olivier Buchbinder, Attaché for Co-operation and Cultural Affairs at the French Consulate for possible collaboration for Africa Day. Ms Robins attended the EU Reception for SONA hosted by the Embassy of the Federated Republic of Germany.
Some of the many other networking events attended included the launch of Thuli Madonsela’s integrity initiative; the Helen Suzman Foundation’s launch of Lord Robin Renwick’s book How to Steal a Country where Thuli Madonsela was honored; Mr Hovsha met with Elias Phaala, UCT lecturer in Political Science, regarding opportunities for collaboration; Ms Makwakwa met with Hugh Fynn who contacted her after attending the Board’s Refugee event. A mediator and restorative justice practitioner, he was keen to work with the Board on restorative justice training or facilitating complex dialogues.
The Board was approached by Susan Shabangu, Minister for Women, and her chief of staff, Monica Zabo of to assist with community dialogue on issues of gender violence in Lwandle Township. We put together a team of lawyers, facilitators and translators in partnerships with MOSAIC, The Union of Jewish Women (UJW) (Mrs Cowan and Mrs Miller), SA Faith and Family Initiative, Legal Aid, Etafeni and Sonke Gender Justice. Director General Dr Clarence Tshitereke introduced the Board as the official partner for the dialogue as well as our partner organisations. Surplus juice and chips provided by the Board was distributed to physically disabled children’s homes, elderly homes and children’s shelters in the Nomzamo area.
- The Board gave start-up funding with a three-month contract to Jono Levi and Scot Roberts to establish an NPO and social entrepreneurship start-up called EDEN Entrepreneurship Development Network, focusing on non-Jews. EDEN planned to develop skills, provide mentoring experience and market access for black entrepreneurs. A good idea, but unfortunately the project was not sustainable.
- The professional staff met with Debbie Dreyer, from the Directorate: Partnership Development in the Western Cape Department of Social Development to discuss possible partnerships with the Jewish community and with Rhita Rhusson from Jewish Community Services (JCS) and Mduduzi Dube, manager of Cape Mental Health Special Education and Care Centres to discuss possible skills transfer.
EMPOWER the community: Pro-active education, Community events, Generation Next
David King (chairman) Leaza Cowan, Adrienne Jacobson, Michael Kushner, Stuart Diamond.
Professional: Gwynne Robins
More than a thousand attended the Cape Council’s annual Yom Hashoah Vehagevurah ceremony including WP Premier Helen Zille, Members of Parliament, Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson, members of the Diplomatic Corps and interfaith representatives as well as representatives from SABC News, News 24, IOL Community Papers and Peoples Post. After I welcomed the attendees, Aviva Pelham sang accompanied in the chorus by the Herzlia choir. Herzlia learners read extracts from memories of Kristallnacht by people who settled in Cape Town whereupon the audience including Helen Zille, the German and Russian Consuls, queued up by the hundreds to glue tiles onto a mosaic reproduction of one of the Berlin synagogues destroyed during that pogrom. After six survivors lit lamps at the Holocaust memorial, the keynote address was given by Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz survivor Ella Blumenthal, her daughter, Dr Evelyn Blumenthal, her granddaughter Jade Kaplan and her great-granddaughter Deena Wolpert, talking on “the Shoah- its impact on four generations.” The CT Hebrew Congregation Choir led by Cantor Choni Goldman sang Ani Ma’amin, the Partisan Song and the Hazkarah, members of the Armed forces and veteran organisations laid wreaths at the War Memorial and the moving ceremony concluded with the kaddish and the singing of the anthems. at the Yom Hashoah ceremony. The ceremony was reported on by SABC2 (12.4), SAFM Nuus (12.4), Good Hope FM (12.4) and People’s Post (“Never forget the horrors”- full page, 17.4).
We attended the annual She'erith Hapletah tea sponsored by us and the Cape Town Holocaust and Genocide Centre (CTHC) and Ms Robins addressed the Herzlia High School Assembly and handed over the award to the art student whose design had been selected for the Board poster and programme cover and gave the vote of thanks to the talk by Holocaust survivor Lina Kantor at a Zikaron BaSalon (“memories in the living room”) event held by the Orit WIZO Branch.
Water Crisis: Professional: Joshua Hovsha
The Board played a lead role in the water crisis by setting up a Co-ordinating Crisis team for the community. The first meeting was attended by Chief Rabbi Goldstein, United Herzlia Schools, CSO, Jewish Care Cape and the UJC. Much of the information and resource was supplied by City Councillor Stuart Diamond. We alerted the community to the possible implications of the water crisis and the importance of embarking on strategic planning for day zero. We hosted a community ‘Town Hall’ meeting organised by Michael Bagraim, with Deputy Mayor Ian Nielson. We also met with Shereen Saacks, principal of Johannesburg’s Darchei Noam School and seven of their learners who had collected 40 000 litres of water for Cape Town. Mr Hovsha met with graduate students from Yale University to discuss our water crisis and Ms Saban met with City of Cape Town Communications Manager Emma Powell to discuss communication strategies around the water crisis.
- We hosted a dinner with LGBTQIA+ called “Coming Out: The Jewish experience”. Guests were given copies of a specially prepared booklet No Place for Hate: Cultivating understanding and unity with LGBTQIA+ individuals in our community. Copies were also given to the Herzlia High School Life Orientation Department.
- Ms Makwakwa attended a dialogue on the LGBTI Rights in SA hosted by the Centre for Conflict Resolution, with speakers Triangle Project director Elsbeth Engelbrecht, DA MP Zakhele Mbhele, and Gender DynamiX director Glenton Matthyse. She met with UJW’s Daphne Miller and Leaza Cowen to discuss the national action plan for gender-based violence.
- For Women’s month, we hosted a panel discussion on “Advancing leadership: Women within the community” with Tamar Lazarus, Romi Kaplan, Myra Goldenbaum and Adina Roth.
- Philadelphia Makwakwa met with Rhita Rhusson of JCS to discuss possible Jewish collaboration with Provincial Departments.
Part of our mandate as an umbrella organisation is to meet regularly with affiliate organisations and groups to discuss issues, challenges and strategic aims. We have met with numerous community organisations and groups including the Executive of the Progressive Reform Jewish community; Jewish Cape Cape; the Executive of the Rabbinical Association; with academics from a cross-section of UCT departments to discuss the experience of Jewish academics and students on campus.
The Board was instrumental in bringing about the Community-wide Needs Analysis, currently being conducted by the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies. I sit together with Mr Hoffman and Mrs Boiskin on the coordinating committee. I participated in a Focus Group on Leadership in our community and Li Boiskin, Mrs Cowan and Ms Robins participated in a Gender Equality Focus Group. These were conducted by Joel Serman and Kerri Serman of the Strategic Group, as part of a community-wide needs analysis.
I made a presentation on the Board, its work and its challenges to the Inaugural Eliot Osrin Leadership Institute session and we partnered in a regional Nahum Goldmann fellowship with international faculty. We also went to a special evening of gratitude arranged by Moishe House Cape Town, to thank the Board and the UJC for our support. I have spoken at the Cape Jewish Seniors Association Wynberg branch and the Board professionals have spoken to the Milnerton and Table View branches and at Highlands House.
The Board and its professionals have attended the following communal events and meetings, the Biennial General Meeting of the United Jewish Campaign; a UJC/Staff Wise/ Herzlia networking event on careers of the future; the Biennual General Meeting of Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School; the communal Yom Hazikaron ceremony, the Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations; a panel discussion on Law, Race and Reparations, a talk by Assoc professor Dr Robertson from Sydney on Psychiatrists and National Socialism, and a screening of the docudrama Labyrinth of Lies (CTHC); a UJW conversation breakfast series with MOSAIC founder, Rolene Miller, as guest speaker; on Professional & Personal Resilience and on a Theory of Change workshop (MENSCH); a Kaplan Centre / Gardens Shul launch of the book Cemeteries and Synagogues: the Foundation of Organised Jewry in South Africa by Prof Howard Phillips; Kaplan Centre – Huma talk by Adam Sutcliffe from the Dept. of History at Kings College London on “The Idea of the Ghetto: from Jews to African Americans, and from Berlin to Chicago” and a LGBTI Shabbat Service at Temple Israel. We attended a Kaplan Centre/ Jewish Museum/ CTHC talk by Prof Shirley Gilbert and Prof Deborah Posel on research done on the Jewish identities of 30 Jewish post-graduates who felt they were marginalised because of their attitudes to Israel.
I also sit as a National Vice Chair of the SAJBD. I welcomed the international guests from the World Jewish Congress who held its National Community Directors’ Forum in Cape Town organised by our national director, Wendy Kahn. The executive and I attend NEC meetings in Gauteng as well as participating in video conference calls and our professionals attended a professionals’ staff meeting at Beyachad. Our executive is in regular contact with National and participates in the NEC meetings. I would like to express our gratitude to Shaun Zagnoev and his Executive, Wendy Kahn, David Saks and Charisse Zeiffert for their regular advice, support, assistance and partnership on so many matters.
David King (Chairman), Viv Anstey, Adrienne Jacobson, Jesse Soicher, Stuart Diamond, Rabbi Nissen Goldman. Professionals: Joshua Hovsha and Liza-Jane Saban
We are concerned at the stress placed on Jewish students on campus during Israel Apartheid Week.
A pilot project which the Board launched this year was the Campus Impact Network programme. Stephanie Merkrebs and Alison Rosenfeld from the Anti-Defamation League in the USA facilitated sessions and Klaas Masilo, an ex-BDS student leader from Wits contextualized the SA climate on campus to prepare students for IAW. This is a strategic first for our community and was hailed by the attending students as one of the best and most useful programmes they’d attended. We will be working with Herzlia and SAUJS to ensure its permanency in our calendar of events. A vital part of the programme was a legal resource booklet that was developed by the professional team for students called “Your rights on campus”. Additional strategic partnerships with the ADL are being explored.
We attended an IAW strategy meeting with representatives of the Israel Centre, SAZF and SAUJS and participated regularly in FairPlay conference calls to discuss BDS, IAW and the ongoing situation at UCT. Mr Hovsha met with UCT academic Aviva Laskov to discuss conditions on the campus and ways in which the Cape Board could support Jewish students. Ms Makwakwa contacted Dr Adam Mendelsohn to discuss encouraging SAUJS involvement with other UCT student organisations, the effects on Campus life of BDS media reporting on Israel and its impact on black SA thinking about Jews as well as the role of Christian-Zionists in shaping black attitudes.
The Board with SAUJS and SAZF held a UCT Town Hall meeting with concerned alumni about the threat to get UCT to boycott Israel – because of threats of disruption by Palestine Solidarity Forum, the venue had to be moved.
At the end of this month, we will be supporting another LaunchPad at Old Macdaddy. This is an international platform which brings young leaders and change-makers together for a weekend retreat to empower them to grow Jewish life, transform the wider South Africa and impact our world. It provides a great opportunity to engage with a younger generous of our community and help nurture a future generation of community leadership.
We have also met with Moishe House, Diller Teens, SAUJS and the Zionist Youth Council and with Sarah Oliver and Uzair ben Abraham of Cape Town Interfaith Initiative(CTII) to discuss youth interconnections for graduate facilitations into other groups.
MEDIA and PUBLIC RELATIONS
Professional: Liza Jane Saban
The Board now employs the services of a creative agency to design all our marketing collateral and online digital footprint. In this connection, Liza -Jane Saban, our head of communications, meets regularly with Mark Sebba of Shepherd & Kings to brief him. Our approach has been to pro-actively feed stories to the local media to highlight the impact our community and its members have in the Western Cape. We are also focused on building media relations to ensure that the Board is duly quoted in stories that affect our community directly.
To this point, local community newspapers and a national website, The South African, picked up on the story of our Vice-Chair Michael Donen and his influence as a lawyer during the apartheid era.
I was interviewed on SABC TV on our Yom Hashoah ceremony and the Cape Town ceremony was covered in a number of regional and national media outlets, reaching over 4.1 million South Africans with this meaningful story.
Mr Hovsha was interviewed by SABC responding to calls by the ANC Western Cape, the Muslim Judicial Council and NC4P for an upcoming joint major public protest against Israel’s recent killings of Palestinians and was quoted on Ukhozi FM. More recently, The Voice of the Cape approached the Board for a spokesperson to be interviewed about our position on the MJC march on Gaza.
Around World Refugee Day, Viv Anstey was interviewed on Cape Talk about the ten-year anniversary since the Xenophobic attacks on refugees and the community assistance given to the Caledon Square Group. The story was also run the SA Jewish Report.
Ms Robins was interviewed on interfaith on the Derech Eretz programme on SATV2 and on Chai FM on the persecution of members of the Hizmet movement by Erdogan.
We issued a statement condoning the killing of two men in the Malmesbury Mosque.
We hosted a meeting with Ido Daniels, senior director of digital strategies, for the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, who met with several Board Members as well as Ms Saban to understand the media climate in the Western Cape.
Ms Saban met with a number of journalists throughout the year, SABC news producers and editors, the Huffington Post, News24, Die Burger, CCFM, Cape Times and Cape Argus, SA Jewish Report, Cape Talk radio hosts and show producers as well as the senior PR & media managers at the City of Cape Town, the ANC Western Cape and the Provincial Department of Education.
The professional team attended a farewell breakfast for Argus journalist Michael Morris, now joining the Institute of Race Relations; an ANC Western Cape Press Conference; a meeting hosted by Meltwater where Dave Duarte discussed creating relevant stories for one’s brand on social media and a dialogue on the role of media in promoting Community Media and Social Cohesion organised by the THI with speakers Shafiz Morton (Voice of the Cape), Mahmoud Sanglay (editor, Muslim Views) and Tashreeq Truebody (station manager, Radio 786)
I wrote to Tony Leon on the death of his father, Justice Ramon Leon; to Prof Max Price on his retirement as UCT vice chancellor; to newly appointed UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng; to Dr Hillel Neuer, a former keynote Cape Board conference speaker on his award of a PhD Honoris causa by McGill University; to Dr Heather Zar for being awarded the L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Award in Paris; to Dr Imtiaz Sooliman on being awarded an honorary doctorate by Stellenbosch; to Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool on his appointment to lead the ANC's election campaign in the Western Cape; to Daphne Hirschberg on her son Peter’s Pulitzer award for international reporting and to Herzlia school for its participation in the unique film, One Voice, Gift to Israel - it was the only youth choir among 14 international choirs who joined in singing Ose Shalom.
The Cape Times published a letter from the Cape Board supporting the Bo-Kaap community’s attempt to halt the sale of part of its historic Tanu Baru burial ground, the first Muslim cemetery in South Africa (“Cemetery is sacred”, 11.6.2018). The Board was also mentioned in the Cape Times article “Sacred land auction stand-off”. The sale was cancelled the following day - the Bo-Kaap spokesman thanked the Board saying that its support had been instrumental in the cancellation as it showed that the matter had broad support. There was much facebook support for the Board initiative. Ms Saban negotiated coverage for the Board’s statement on the Malmesbury Mosque Murders with Duncan Alfreds, News24 Content Producer, who covered the story for the online publication.
Ms Saban had a Meltwater Training session with Rochelle Platyes; participated in a Linked in media training workshop on crisis management and attended a talk by Dr Talaya Waller & Solly Moeng on “Merging Perspectives: The Personal & Corporate Brand.
She has run social media campaigns on Facebook for International Women’s day, Campus Impact Network, Yom Hashoah (“We will not forget”), on the water crisis and on the importance of re-opening the Cape Town refugee centre, amongst others.
We have also updated the Boards website so that it now becomes a portal of community news that features all our up-to-date media releases and statements on current issues.
The Board has also successfully built its brand architecture, under the creative guidance of Mark Sebba and Ms Saban. All our branded material is now uniform and has a consistent look and feel making our the SAJBD Cape Council a recognisable brand amongst civic organisations.
INTERFAITH/ INTER-COMMUNITY OUTREACH
Professional: Gwynne Robins
The Board regards interfaith intercommunity outreach as a means to break down the ignorance that leads to antisemitism and to help make friends across the communities. The importance of this has, surprisingly, been expressed by Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud after meeting Jewish and Christian leaders at the Saudi Embassy in Washington in March this year. The meeting, the Prince said, emphasised the common bond among all people, particularly people of faith, and stressed the importance of tolerance, co-existence and working together for a better future for all of humanity. These are the common bonds which the Board hopes to achieve through this involvement
- The Board hosted a well-attended UN World Interfaith Harmony week event with guest speaker Prof Jonathan Jansen. It was a good networking opportunity with guests from different faiths communities, NGOs and educationists.
- We hosted an Interfaith meeting with Boston University Theological students together with local Muslim and Jewish students.
- We hosted an Interfaith lunch with Prof Bishop Dr Malkhaz Songulshvili and Dr Taj Hargey.
- We helped sponsor an Inter-community One in Song festival 13.8.2017 with the Shalom Voice Choir, and choirs from Herzlia, Luhlaza High School, the Hellenic community, the iGugu Le Kapa Choir and the Save Us All Gospel Choir
The following interfaith events were attended by Ms Robins:
Interfaith meeting with World Pilgrims- hosted by Ebrahim Rasool in Mandela’ s Bishopscourt home; friendship tea and an Iftaar (THI); a kosher interfaith Havdalah-Chanukah celebration with the lighting of a Havdalah candle and Chanukiyah, the CTII AGM; a meeting to arrange the 2018 CTII Religious Heritage bus tour - unfortunately as the public holiday falls on first day Sukkot there can be no active Jewish involvement; an Open Mosque Human Rights Day dinner devoted to the treatment of the Khoisan; an Open Mosque Youth Day event at addressed by Prof Jonathan Jansen and Oscar Lyons, a founder of a new organisation, Gatvol Capetonians to fight for the rights of Coloured people and to try through a referendum to achieve an independent status for the Western Cape through the Constitution; an Open Mosque interfaith barbecue where Ms Robins was one of the speakers and an interfaith Open Mosque dinner on the Baha’I religion with speakers Tahirih Matthee and Dr Iraj Abedian and an interfaith Brahma Kumaris World Water Day where she was one of the speakers. Together with a Muslim guide, she took 32 education students from the Elon University, North Carolina on a tour of the Jewish campus outlining the history of the Jews in SA. Michael Bagraim and Ms Robins attended a pro-Israel event at the Desire of All Nations Church in Ottery
Treasurer: Lester Hoffman
Mr Hoffman, Mr Hovsha and I made our presentation to the UJC Allocations Committee. We are very grateful to them for their support and understanding of the work that we do. Formerly the SAUJS budget used to be administered by the Board but it will now be receiving its budget independently.
Lester Hoffman(chairman), Rael Kaimowitz and others
Professional: Jodi Goldberg
We awarded bursaries to the value of R1 878 300.00 to 63 students, of whom twelve were new, 41 renewals and ten were postgraduate students. It is an intensive procedure that is ably managed by Jodi Goldberg. The fees for tertiary education continues to increase and we would welcome donations from the community towards our bursary funds.
Gwynne Robins regularly updates the Board’s Guide to Jewish South Africa. She has assisted Gavin Beinart-Smollan who was researching SA Jewish food for an MA in Jewish History at the Hebrew University and sent him an early cookery book. It has been scanned by the National Library of Israel, a digital version will appear shortly in their catalogue and will feature on the website he is building to showcase the entire corpus of SA Jewish community cookery books. Ms Robins met with Gavin Morris of the SA Jewish Museum and David Gross, a history honours student at Stellenbosch University, to provide information for a thesis on the Stellenbosch synagogue and assisted Clive Lawton, CEO, Commonwealth Jewish Council, with information on hosting interfaith seders. She met with artist Sue Kaplan who had researched CT’s first Jewish cemetery, in Woodstock for an Honours degree in curating. She met with Prof Vi Makin who was doing an internship at Iziko Art Gallery in connection with some of the artworks belonging to the Board for a possible exhibition.
In addition to the organisations that fall directly under the Board, we work in friendly and close co-operation with: Bnoth Zion Association-WIZO, CSO under the capable leadership of Dean Rosin who, with his dedicated team of professionals and volunteers, secure our functions and our Jewish way of life, the CT Holocaust Centre, the CT Progressive Jewish Congregation, Fair Play (South Africa), Jacob Gitlin Library, Jewish Care Cape, Jewish Chronicle, ORT, Afrika Tikkun, the Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, the South African Zionist Federation (Cape Council) and all its departments, including the youth movements, the Union of Orthodox Synagogues, United Herzlia Schools, United Jewish Campaign and their Young Adult Division and the Union of Jewish Women. The co-operation and cohesiveness that exists in Cape Town between the Board and all Jewish organisations is an example of unity which augers well for the continuity and future of the Jewish community in Cape Town.
A farewell party attended by the Board executive was held for Joshua Hovsha who has left to pursue a PhD. Liza-Jane Saban is standing in as acting director during this time. We are busy recruiting at present with Staffwise for the Executive Director position.
We would like to congratulate vice chairperson Michael Donen on the motion passed by Parliament to praise him for the work he did in representing freedom fighters over many years as well as vice chairperson Viv Anstey who has been appointed the director of the newly established Eliot Osrin leadership institute.
Joining me on the Executive of the Cape Board are Vice-Chairpersons Michael Donen, Viv Anstey and Treasurer Lester Hoffman. These are highly experienced and dedicated individuals whose commitment and passion for our Community is immense. I greatly value and thank them for their on-going advice and support. Our executive would like to extend our gratitude to our Board members for their exemplary participation and commitment to the welfare of our community.
I also want to thank our professional team of Gwynne Robins, Philadelphia Makwakwa and Jodi Goldberg, led for part of the year by Joshua Hovsha and thereafter in an acting capacity by Liza-Jane Saban for their hours of dedicated service and commitment to the organization. They are the engine that keeps the Board going and are a credit to our community.
On a personal note, after the recent passing of my Mother, the amazing warmth and love of this community has been additionally highlighted in a very real way. We are indeed lucky to be part of it and we should do whatever we can to protect, preserve and strengthen it.
On a personal note, I thank my wife Caroline and our two boys Jake and Daniel for their sacrifice and support in me taking the Chair. A demanding, sometimes draining but also very rewarding position.
I would like to conclude with the message of Rabbi Hillel in Pirkei Avot, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" because I would like to think that this what the Cape Jewish Board of Deputies in its work aspires to do.