​The Pesach 2017 issue of Jewish Affairs

The Pesach 2017 issue of Jewish Affairs has just come off the presses and posted on the SAJBD’s Website. Click here to read it. The printed version will be mailed to subscribers shortly.

Last month, the editorial board of Jewish Affairs lost one of its most loyal and long-standing members, Dr Elaine Katz. An obituary to Elaine will appear in the next (Rosh Hashanah) issue of the journal.

Jewish South Africans who have made their mark – the areas of involvement covered include the medical field, book trading, Indian civil rights, agriculture and provincial rugby – feature in the first section of this issue. Two of them – the trade unionist and Vanguard Bookshop founder and owner Fanny Klenerman and Gandhi’s strong-willed, devoted young secretary Sonja Schlesin – receive an occasional mention in mainstream histories. The articles by Dr Veronica Belling and Harriet Feinberg respectively look at the lives and careers of these two bold, unconventional Jewish women who, in their different ways, were so far ahead of their times.

Other personalities in this section – they include the German-born, European-trained medical practitioner Dr Hartwig Buxbaum, who evaded the Nazi death trap and successfully reinvented himself as a small-town South African country doctor, and Jewish rugby players who enjoyed successful provincial careers without quite making it to national level – are today remembered only by their families and those still living who knew them. All, however, have interesting life stories that illustrate, from a Jewish point of view, various aspects the political, professional and cultural life of the times in which they were active. This issue features the second part of Hartwig Buxbaum’s life, by his nephew Stuart Buxbaum. It picks up his story from his arrival in South Africa until his untimely death a few years later. Steven Katzew writes on the career of the gifted Free State flyhalf Henry Katzew, who narrowly missed out on winning Springbok colours, as well as on a number of other Jewish rugby players who made their mark at provincial level.  

Part two of this issue, subtitled ‘Religion and Culture’, includes Gwynne Schrire’s erudite overview of how Jewish festival and other traditions have evolved over the years, Debbie Orolowitz’s examination of the “Freedom Seders” hosted by the Cape Town-based anti-apartheid organisation Jews for Justice in the late 1980s and an overview of Judaism’s ‘36 Righteous Men’ (Lamedvovniks) tradition by veteran contributor Cecil Bloom. 

When it comes to the early days, everyone has a story to tell. However, relating those stories in a way that engages the interest of the general listener takes a good deal of skill. The three memoirs featured in the third section certainly pass muster in this regard. Charlie Nates delightfully invokes a youth spent among first-generation immigrants who would regularly come together to listen to the family’s collection of long-playing Yiddish and Hebrew records. Next, Rosalie Rogow recounts an emotional journey to Germany, where she participated in the laying of stolpersteine memorials to family members who had been driven from their homes during the Nazi eras. Finally, distinguished poet and essayist Bernard Levinson, with humour and poignancy, recalls growing up in Depression-era, crime-ridden Chicago in the 1930s.    

The Book Reviews section commences with Marcia Leveson’s warm appraisal of

The Relatively Public Life of Jules Browde, Daniel Browde’s imaginatively wrought depiction of the life and philosophy of his much loved and esteemed grandfather, who passed away last year. Next, Judge Ralph Zulman reviews two new anthologies of memoirs and other primary documents on the local Jewish past by the indefatigable expatriate David Solly Sandler, Our Litvak Inheritance and Our South African Jewish Inheritance. The Gandhi theme is further explored by the editor’s comments on George Paxton’s Nonviolent Resistance to the Nazis. One of the sensitive questions this raises is whether organised passive resistance by German Jewry at an early stage of Nazi persecution might have prevented the catastrophe that eventually engulfed them and many other co-religionists in Nazxi-occupied Europe.

New poetry is contributed by Abigail Sarah Bagraim, Charlotte Cohen, Isaac Habib, Bernard Levinson, Moe Skikne. In a concluding Letters to the Editor section, Juan-Paul Burke, Marcia Leveson and Zita Nurok comment on and where necessary clarify aspects of previous articles published by Jewish Affairs

On behalf of the Jewish Affairs editorial board, I wish everyone a Chag Pesach Kasher v’Sameach.

David Saks

Editor

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