Executive Director, Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies
The Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin once said: “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen.”
Living in South Africa at this time, it is not difficult to relate to this sentiment. It feels as though we have had a great many of those weeks as of late. Twenty-three years into South Africa’s democratic transformation we have been forced to come to terms with the task before us.
It is relevant that we have just finished reading the Book of Bamidbar (Numbers) which tells of the evolution of our people over the forty years in which they wander in the desert on the way to their Promised Land. This arduous journey serves as a valuable lesson. Not all paths to our promised destinies come smoothly.
Together we wish to uncover how we as Jewish South Africans can best contribute to our country’s future.
As Jewish people in this country, we have so much to take pride in; we have built a community worthy of celebration– even under the shadow of a racist regime. A community that continues to thrive to this day and can look back in awe at the many prominent Jewish figures who fought in the struggle.
In our response to widespread inequality and the challenges of our land – we have the opportunity to define ourselves once more as a minority grouping dedicated to our collective future.
Our conference was designed to give insight and perspective into three core debates within South Africa today.
The first session highlighted the state of our Constitution today –Nkandla rulings, State Capture reports, Secret Ballot decisions and more led us to ask – are our courts the only thing keeping our government in place? And can they survive the pressure?
We then turned our attention to the state of our universities. In the past three years, South African Universities have become a sight for disruption on levels not seen since the dying days of Apartheid. As a people committed to the power of education, we asked what we can do to resolve this crisis? A conversation which must continue.
Finally, we explored the State of the Nation and considered what it would take to realise the promise of South Africa’s democracy for all.
As always a premium was placed on community participation and gained from the insights and perspectives of all those in attendance. These conversations do not end in a day; rather we hope that our conference will serve as the starting point for ongoing engagement.
Our doors are always open; we are always willing to talk and more importantly to listen.