Shaun Zagnoev

Above Board 7.2.20



Jewish Report

Faith Communities meet with President ahead of SONA

At the time of writing, the upcoming State of the Nation address (SONA) on 13 February is the dominant issue on people’s minds. Last week four representatives of the SAJBD, together with Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein participated in a meeting of faith-based leaders at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. The meeting was convened for President Ramaphosa to engage with religious leaders prior to his addressing the nation. Ministers Lindiwe Zulu, Aaron Motsoeledi, Nkoana-Mashabane, Angie Motshekga and Nathi Mthethwa were also present, and together with the President they responded to the issues raised. Mr Ramaphosa shared his concerns openly and listened carefully to the issues worrying faith-based communities.

National Director Wendy Kahn, one of the Board’s representatives who attended, reports that there was common purpose for all to work together to address the challenges in country. The President described faith as a vehicle for social emancipation, a catalyst for change and a key way to build a society where everyone could live in dignity, safety and prosperity. He called for all of us to have a unity of purpose in order to bring healing to our land. All in all, it was an extremely meaningful opportunity for a small group of faith leaders to come together and engage with the country’s most senior leaders.

In Memoriam: Boomie Abramowitz

We were saddened by the passing last week of past SAJBD Chairman Dr Israel ‘Boomie’ Abramowitz. Boomie was a true gentleman from the old school of Jewish communal leadership in South Africa. In the course of a long and distinguished communal career, he can truly be said to have epitomised the particular strengths that have made our community so respected a component of global Jewry. In addition to his work with the Board, he held office in a range of other communal organisations over the decades, including the SAZF, Bnai B’rith and Hebrew Order of David. All this he achieved while simultaneously pursuing his career as an eminent vascular surgeon.

Boomie assumed the leadership of the SAJBD at a challenging time in South African history. It was in 1979, just before the start of the final decade of white minority rule, when the country being on the cusp of a prolonged period of social and political unrest. There was enormous anxiety within Jewish circles over whether there was any future for South Africa, and indeed many of members of the community left during this period. The times called for strong, wise leaders, people able to speak to the concerns of those they represented while also providing a calming voice enabling them to keep things in proper perspective. Boomie, first as National Chairman of the Board and thereafter as President, admirably fulfilled this role. He went on to act as one of the Board’s respected elder statesmen, remaining involved in the organisation until his eventual move to Perth. We pay tribute to Boomie for everything he did for our community. He will be remembered with affection and respect by all who knew and worked with him.

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​Sentencing of Letsoalo sets important precedent. ​

Sentencing of Letsoalo sets important precedent.

Today, the Randburg Magistrates Court sentenced Matome Letsoalo to three years imprisonment, suspended for five years, for threatening and antisemitic tweets that he posted in June 2018. This follows Letsoalo’s pleading guilty last Friday to a charge of crimen injuria lodged by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies SAJBD).