The World Jewish Congress held its fourth annual National Community Directors Forum in Cape Town from 22-24 October, bringing together senior professional leaders from dozens of member communities around the world.
“The WJC is a powerful network of professionals, leaders, Jewish community members and representatives, organisations, and more,” said WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer in his opening address. “We are better equipped to face these challenges than any other Jewish international body, and we will continue to work together to preserve our Jewish culture and traditions. We are one global Jewish community, and together, WJC is at its strongest.”
Mary Kluk, the President of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies said, following the forum: “Having this remarkable group of leaders in South Africa was such an incredible morale booster for our community. Seeing our country and our community through the eyes of the WJC participants gave us a renewed appreciation of our community. It is a true privilege to be part of the WJC family.”
Over the course of the two-day forum, the delegates from more than 40 global communities exchanged knowledge and experiences, and discussed solutions and strategies for the key issues facing the Jewish world.
The main point of discussion was the BDS movement and its impact on the various communities, including strategies for reactions, rapid responses, and preparation in the face of anti-Israel campaigns.
Delegates also held three working groups to exchange best practices from the large communities to the smaller communities, deciding on a number of strategies and plans of action to work together on issues including security of the Jewish communities and international coordination; online antisemitism and cyberhate; and using legal methods to combat anti-Semitism and the BDS movement. The discussions also included promoting the global definition introduced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and a preliminary plan of action was devised for a global campaign engaging internet companies against cyberhate.
Delegates to the conference were introduced to the nuances, history and social fabric of South African Jewish life. This included a panel discussion in which three of our Cape Town community members involved in the transition from apartheid to multiracial democracy — Ann Harris, Judge Albie Sachs and Johnny Copelyn — shared their memories and insights.
Premier of Cape Province, Helen Zille, welcomed the delegates at the opening dinner on Sunday with a keynote address in which she shared personal recollection of her mother’s Jewish family that fled the Nazis in Germany, at her spectacular residence Leeuwenhof.
The gala dinner attended by members of the Cape and National Board, parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, academics, members of the diplomatic corps and other distinguished personalities, took place within easy view of Robben Island and guest speaker was Tokyo Sexwale, Chairman of the FIFA Monitoring Committee on Israel-Palestine, who spoke on the Palestinians who wanted to expel Israeli teams from the international football organization, Sexwale said: “Our hearts go out to both Israelis and Palestinians because they need peace. Football should be viewed as a tool to unite people.”
Guests were treated to our local Cape Kosher cuisine at all our Kosher restaurants and the conference took place at the Hatfield Campus with visits to the Garden’s Shul, Holocaust and Genocide Educational Centre and Jewish Museum, and an outing to observe the incredible work being done at Afrika Tikkun and Astra Centre. They also toured the Herzlia School campuses and met with school leadership.
A WJC member remarked, “The Cape Town Jewish community has left me inspired to go back home and replicate the support systems and networks you have in place! What a great place for a Jew to live.”
Snapshot of the World Jewish Congress
“Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh beZeh” (All Jews are responsible for one another)
Global Jewish organisation with affiliated communities and organisations in over 100 countries around the world, across 6 continents.Founded in 1936 in Geneva, Switzerland.The WJC has been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of Jews and Jewish communities around the world.Represents the plurality of the Jewish people, and is politically non-partisan.