What is the point of the Board of Deputies?

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By Stuart Diamond

Since the fourth century BCE, the Jews in the Diaspora have found it necessary to have a kehillah, a semi-autonomous organised Jewish community structure that could intercede with the rulers to protect and promote the interests of the Jewish community. 

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies is the direct descendent of this.

The Board developed out of a 1903 deputation organised in Cape Town. They wanted to ask the attorney-general to declare Yiddish a European language so that Jews could immigrate without hindrance. The Transvaal and Natal formed a Board of Deputies a few months later, with Cape Town following suit in September 1904.

The Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape SAJBD) is the representative body of the Western Cape Jewish community. It means that even though we have been in existence for 116 years we cannot sit back on our laurels. It is with understanding of the important role that we play, that the Cape Council continues to strategically act in the best interests of the community on a wide range of issues. We have a continued responsibility to act swiftly to protect the rights of our community. 

The Kaplan Centre Survey results released in 2019 demonstrated that communal members are grappling with what our community organisations’ functions are. In the months ahead, the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies will run a campaign to inform the community of who we are and how we are meeting our objectives. 

This month we will start our campaign with our constitutional objectives that guide what the Cape Board does on a day-to-day basis. Objectives need to be clear and well defined as they provide: 

  • The ability to control and set boundaries 
  • Enhance motivational levels of the lay and professional members
  • Provide direction and for the NPO and individuals 
  • Give the NPO a sense of direction 
  • Act as a base for decision making 
  • Encourages strategic thinking for the NPO 
  • Foundation for measuring performance 

The objectives of the Cape SAJBD are expressed in section 2 of its Constitution, and the Cape SAJBD shares the same objectives as the National body, which is the representative body of the Jewish community at a national level in South Africa. These objectives are: 

Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies website: www.capesajbd.org, Instagram, and Facebook page.

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