Yom Hashoah – Communal Harmony Restored

Last week, the Gauteng Council took a decision that future Yom Hashoah ceremonies in Johannesburg will essentially take the same format as that agreed to in Cape Town earlier this year. In terms of this, the ceremony will consist of two parts, one following the traditional Yom Hashoah format and the other exploring additional ways of learning about and commemorating the Holocaust, including through women singing solo. The core principles of this agreement are set out in a press statement which can be viewed on our Facebook page.  

This outcome was arrived at through a process of consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including representatives of the Orthodox and Progressive communities, women’s and youth groups and with the Holocaust survivors themselves. It hopefully brings to a final resolution what has been a painful and highly divisive controversy for our community. From the Board’s point of view, the aim was always to find a way forward that would satisfy the requirements of one faction while not in any way alienating any other. It was never about one side ‘winning’ and the other ‘losing’. Such an outcome could have been achieved through simply doing away with singing altogether, but in the end, we chose to take a more positive, proactive approach - adding rather than subtracting to the event. In addition, the new programme offers opportunities to explore new modes of commemorating and learning about the Shoah, without sacrificing any of the traditional components of the ceremony.

Recent Articles

Durban Jewish Exhibition

Since its initial conceptualisation in 1919, the historic Durban Jewish Club has been not only the centre of Jewish communal life in Durban, but a frequently used public space for the broader society. The building itself, "surrounded by bush, rippling dunes of corrugated white sand mingled with ochre earth", was officially opened on 4 May 1931. Since then, it has been host to generations of people, with a history that has witnessed wars and political unrest, conferences and public meetings and music and theatre performances. 

Sara Gon compares the experience of Penny Sparrow with that of Bongani Masuku

“COSATU has got members here even on this campus; we can make sure that for that side it will be hell”

“COSATU is with you, we will do everything to make sure that whether its at Wits University, whether its at Orange Grove, anyone who does not support equality and dignity, who does not support the rights of other people must face the consequences even if it means that we will do something that may necessarily cause what is regarded as harm…”

The Bongani Masuku Judgement - Implications for South African Law

Determining where the boundary lies between legitimate freedom of expression and prohibited ‘hate speech’ can never be an exact science. During the flurry of debate that took place around the controversial Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill earlier this year, this was something that came through especially strongly. Err too much on one side, and victims of genuinely hurtful and insulting verbal abuse are left without a remedy; err too much on the other, and a fundamental pillar of democracy is undermined.