This weekend, the SAZF will be holding its long-anticipated national conference, with an impressive line-up of guest speakers that includes former opposition leader and current Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog. I wish the SAZF all success for this auspicious occasion and, along with other SAJBD members who will be attending, look forward to participating in it.
Also at the conference, Ben Swartz will be stepping down after four years as SAZF chairman, while for Nicci Raz, it will be her last major Federation function as National Director before her family’s move to Israel. Both have done an outstanding job in their positions, which in turn has contributed significantly to the excellent working relationship that exists between our two organisations, both at the lay leader and professional staff level. In a difficult, frequently hostile environment, they have been tenacious, unapologetic and boldly innovative in the way they have carried out their mandate to safeguard the South Africa-Israel relationship, not just on behalf of the Jewish community but increasingly in partnership with Israel’s many Christian supporters. We thank and commend them, together with the SAZF leadership and staff team as a whole, for everything they have contributed, and will undoubtedly continue to contribute to Israel and the Jewish community in the future.
Homage to a true legend
Johnny Clegg, whose untimely passing last week elicited a deserved flood of tributes from all over the world, was much more than a mere composer and performer of anti-apartheid ‘protest’ songs. Through his trail-blazing synthesis of local white and black musical traditions, he was able to point the way to a society where cultural differences are seen as a source of mutual enrichment rather than of division, and as a vehicle for binding people together in a shared commitment to their common South African-ness. While distinguished both in his personal and professional life by his ability to assimilate different cultures into his own life, he was an identifying Jew, able to speak with much insight and erudition about this aspect of his heritage.
Just two weeks before his death, the SAJBD’s National Executive Council had chosen him to be the recipient of our Rabbi Cyril and Ann Harris Human Rights Award, to be presented at our upcoming national conference in November. We will in due course be in contact with his family to see how we might pay homage to this distinguished Jewish South African and help to perpetuate his memory and legacy.
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