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.