The International Council of Jewish Womens’ 21st Quadrennial Convention 2010

From 9th – 13th May 2010 the Mother City welcomed more than 200 women from over 23 countries to the 21st Quadrennlal Convention of the International Council of Jewish women. lt‘s been a good year for South Africa and Cape Town ln particular ln hosting large-scale lntematlonel events. This convention. a highlight on the lntematlonal Jewish communal calendar. was no exception.

Held at the President Hotel and hosted by the South Afrlcan Union of Jewish Women. lt was convened ostensibly to vote on key lssues and support the mandate of the Unlon. lt was also an important forum to catch up with old friends. make new ones and acknowledge that. despite language and geographic differences.

Jewish women share much in common as women. mothers, partners and communal workers. The conference served as a reminder of the Impact and importance of the Unlon. which has an impressive global membership and is now represented at the United Nations.

Established In 1912 the lntematlonal Council of Jewish Women (ICJW) is a collective of 52 women’s organisations in 47 countries. working for social justice and welfare for all. The ICJW provides a voice for Jewish women around the world and a platform for the issues that concern their famllles and communities.

A magnificent opening Gala Dinner at the Cape Town Civic Centre hosted by the Executive Mayor of Cape own, Alderman Dan Plato, reflected the warm hospitality of Capetonlans with the hum of Russian and Spanish
translation ln the background the Convention quickly got down to the business of supporting, developing and
challenging its members to continue their work.

Presentations on working effectively as a group, using a lion pride as a guide, contemporary Anti-Semltlsm.

Israeli-Diaspora relations, human rights, young Jewish leadership and the environment were of interest. The session, entitled, ‘Women as Leaders of Social Change’ saw Helen Lieberman presenting delelates with the extraordinary journey of her award winning NGO llramva Labantu and offering them a unique opportunity to visit The Rainbow Centre, one of its township based projects. Professor Marlon Jacobs. Dean of UCT’s Faculty of l-lealth Sciences, and psychologist Nomfundo walaza, CEO of The Desmond Tutu Peace Centre and former head of The Cape Town Trauma Centre. inspired the audience with an lnslgrt into their work and challenges. Debbie Silver reported on her and Joan Rubensteln’s inspiring work with women at Pollsmoor Prison.

Also on the agenda were presentations and workshops on human trafhcking, domestic violence. HIV/Aids and the media‘s impact on the psychosocial experience of teen girls. Epic journeys into Africa by the travelling Rabbi Moshe Sllverhaft drew the audience Into the unlque experience and challenges of SubSaharan Jewlsh communities.

Delegates were offered the opportunity of joining the Convention’s Habitat for Humanity Legacy Build. which will see one. possibly two. homes built locally by UJW members later in the year.

Of great interest were rep-crts by Union affiliates from across the globe on a multitude of life changing programmes and projects. This gave a powerful impression of the breadth of work done by affiliates and the impact ofthe Union as a whole.

A spectacular closing Gala Dinnen where the outgoing ICJW President. Leah Aharonov (Israel) inducted Sharon Gustafson (USA) as the incoming President, added the bells and whistles to what organisers and attendees have reported as a most succesful convention.

Armed with fresh ideas for new projects, and support for existing ones, delegates returned to their espective countries Inspired to continue their work. They promised not to wait for four more years before seeing each other again, swapped Skype and email addresses, and bade farewell with hugs and some tears.

The Conventions motto ‘Beyachad. Ubuntu. Together’ was experienced powerfully in a spirit of sisterly engagement and genuine warmth.


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