Know your Board

Tzvi Brivik — Chairperson Cape SAJBD, and Lester Hoffman — Treasurer Cape SAJBD

We decided it’s high time we spotlight the individuals who make up the Cape SAJBD!

After all, they are there to represent you and ensure your voice is heard when engaging with leading figures in the political, media and administrative spheres.

Each month, two Board members will answer a series of questions that shed light on their reasons for serving, and their response to key issues relevant to our community. So, keep an eye out, and get to know your Board!

Tzvi Brivik — Chairperson

How can one make a difference?
You get involved! That is what I learned over almost a quarter of a century of communal service. I started with two organisations — The Association for the Physically Disabled and Glendale Home, both of which represent causes close to my heart. I am a personal injury attorney and work daily with clients who have had their quality of life irrevocably changed by an event, usually beyond their control and which significantly detracts from their health. Seeking justice for them is my passion. I am still the legal advisor to the Association of the Physically Disabled, an organisation that provides services to more than 3500 persons with disabilities each year. These include education, awareness and integration of persons with disabilities into the larger community. Glendale Home is a Jewish communal organisation that aims to provide meaningful lives for Jewish individuals who are intellectually disabled. In the course of this volunteer work, I have come across many selfless individuals who worked for the benefit of these organisations and set high standards.

How did you get involved with the Board?
When I arrived from Johannesburg in 1999, it quickly became clear that I was integrating into a vibrant and varied Jewish community. I was fortunate to have been offered employment by Michael Bagraim, who introduced me to the community. That interest translated into an election to the Board in 1999 for my first term of office. While there, I was exposed to many issues which the Board grappled with, and to the important work the Board does protecting our Jewish way of life. I have sat on the Board for three further terms, during each of which I have been surrounded by incredibly gifted thinkers with a great propensity to shoulder their communal responsibility, and I have learned so much.

What do you hope to achieve during your term of office?
One of the constants over the last 20-odd years is the change that I have seen and experienced in our community. Some of these are significant and some less so, but each required consideration and alternative solutions. During the last term I felt that I was ready to take on the mantle of chairperson. I had had a clear vision for the change which I wanted to effect, and the means of doing so. I had noted a demographic change, a change within affiliate structures and a change in the external demands made of our community, as well as the way in which our community would need to both protect and entrench itself in our not-so-new democracy. I had also realised that there was a large part of our community that was unaffiliated. For me, that meant not being exposed to the many wonderful organisations that formed part of our community, not only to contribute towards, but from which to benefit.

What do you think is unique about our Jewish community?
One of the elements that makes our Jewish community so special is the fact that we ‘punch way above our weight’. Our incredible community offers services from the cradle to the grave, from various religious perspectives and in various communal endeavors. It even offers outreach programmes to external non-Jewish communities. Our community is a treasure worth fighting for, worth giving up time for and certainly worth growing and preserving.

What is your vision for the community?
I would like to see the Board serve our diverse community’s needs with strength and compassion, guided by the strong moral compass of our Jewish religion and being strengthened by this diversity. I am looking to your help to make it so!

Lester Hoffman — Treasurer

Why did you join the Board?
I was coming out of my term of office as Chairman of the Board of Governors of United Herzlia Schools at the time. The challenges faced by the school reflected a high percentage of the community, but inevitably the focus was on specific issues.
I had been invited to join the Management committee of the UOS and was working closely with the late Joe Fintz. It was clear to me that as the overarching body in the community, the Board’s roles and responsibilities were very different. Joe encouraged me to stand and we discussed what I could bring to the table.

What do you hope to achieve during your term of office?
I believe that over the years that I have been privileged to serve on the Board, I have tried to bring a sense of balanced and well-considered viewpoints to the debates. Members of the Board come with differing views and experiences, and while these are important and critical to the formulation of our decisions, emotions have to be directed to the bigger picture, in line with the Board’s mandate. As Treasurer, my focus has included the financial stability of the Board, as well as that of the Cape BOD Bursary foundation. Notwithstanding this, the political environment has changed and antisemitism has become more frequent and vitriolic. The community, locally and nationally, has changed over the years, as have their needs. It is essential that we meet these challenges and expectations of the community at large.

What other community organisations are you involved in?
I am former Chairperson of the Cape SAJBD and former Vice-Chairman of the SAJBD (National). I am Chairman of the Cape Jewish Chronicle Editorial Committee and of CSO Cape Town, as well as a trustee of CSO (National). I serve on the South African Jewish Museum board, the Kaplan Centre management committee at UCT, ORT JET’s assessment panel and the Cemeteries Maintenance Board. As mentioned earlier, I am past Chairman of the United Herzlia Schools’ Board of Governors, and have also served on the Priorities Board and the Union of Orthodox Synagogue’s management committee. For a number of years, I was an Executive Member and Treasurer of the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum and an Executive Member of the Electoral Code of Conduct Observer Commission.

What are your passions?
That’s a difficult one as it is really multi-faceted. My extensive experience and wide involvement at senior levels in both Jewish and non-Jewish philanthropic and religious organisations has made me appreciate the importance of broadening our sphere of influence. Our responsibilities to the Jewish Community are obvious, but we don’t live in isolation, and it’s important to build bridges with other communities who also have challenges, some in common with ours. When we are seen to take a position on issues that are important to the protection of our rights, we also need to consider other events which of their very nature may indirectly impact us. We must be seen to respond accordingly and suitably. The Board has always been the ‘go-to’ body for the community, and the role and standing of the elected deputies as leaders of the community must be reinforced.

What is your vision for the community?
With numbers decreasing and demographics changing, the challenges increase. We are still structured for the much larger community that we had many years ago, and all those facilities and functions continue to exist. There is room for rationalisation. At the same time the responsibilities of leadership are likely to change and become greater. How we reach the whole community and provide support and civil rights protection is important.

What do you think is unique about our Jewish community?
We are the most cohesive and well-structured community in the country. Our finances are properly managed and controlled, and our committees and publications reach out to the majority of our community. The many service organisations that are run so effectively by both volunteers and professionals also serve to bring the community together.

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

• Published in the PDF edition of the November 2021 issue – Click here to get it.

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