Know your Board

Viv Anstey and Li Boiskin

We decided to spotlight the individuals who make up our Board! 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 on the Board, and their response to key issues relevant to our community. So, keep an eye out, and get to know your Board!

Viv Anstey

Why did you join the Board?
My experience at the Board started a few decades ago as a community consultant for our national office in Johannesburg. Having completed my MA in Jewish Communal Service on scholarship to Brandeis University, Boston, I had returned to SA to serve the community in political advocacy, leadership development and project work. I consulted nationally with organisations like UJW and SAUJS and assisted in the start-up of CSO, Afrika Tikkun and a Jewish Trauma Network. These were challenging times and I had an active role in leading change. Upon returning to Cape Town, I consulted nationally out of the Cape Town office and later was elected as a lay leader. Sitting around the Board table has given me a platform to serve my community, mentor professionals and apply my skills and passions to valued projects, such as xenophobia, lobbying, coalition building and engagement, words matter campaigns, mediation, student issues, young adult dilemmas and using my voice as an insider to challenge the status quo.

What do you hope to achieve during your term of office?
In my past positions on the Board, I was on the executive and led from the front, shaping the agenda and programmes. In my current term, I have focused on young adults through the Board’s Generation Next subcommittee. I believe the challenges that play out for our youth and young adults need to be escalated and understood. They are our future. As a committee member, I bring institutional and community memory and history that shapes this term of office, alongside my activism in Jewish education and leadership development.

What other community organisations are you involved in?
As a serial social entrepreneur, I have pioneered many community startups with significant impact. The Midrasha/Melton Adult Education Institute has been an educational resource in SA for over 16 years, providing Jewish curricula of excellence. My passion for leadership and professional development was realised when I was invited to set up the Eliot Osrin Leadership Institute. The privilege of sharing my decades of experience and expertise with lay, professional and emerging leaders is as much my legacy as it is that of our respected Eliot Osrin z”l. I am also a proud co-founder of Limmud SA, an inclusive space that has changed the face of dialogue, discourse and Jewish learning. Another highlight is my involvement in the creation of PJ Library — transmitting Jewish values through powerful storytelling; and The Jewish Literary Festival — encompassing all things Jewish through the written word.

What is your vision for the community?
I am an active member of the Planning Team for the CTJC2040 Vision — an inspirational and aspirational opportunity to integrate my experience and community knowledge into the mix of projections for a long-term community strategy and change-management plan. We need to project, plan and professionalise. We are obliged to know who we are as a community and how we must serve to ensure a sustainable model of community service delivery that is effective, adequately funded and relevant. My vision is to embrace diversity, upskill lay and professional leaders, open doors to succession, and invest in our young adults. All of our community must be counted, seen and served, and in turn activated — this is our version of inclusion and diversity towards cohesion. Deliberate and intentional leadership will strengthen our thriving community.

What do you think is unique about our Jewish community?
The leadership of yesterday and today have established a well-organised and disciplined Jewish community, reaching global benchmarks of best practice. Ours is a unique blend of heart (compassion and care), hand (volunteerism and philanthropy) and halacha (governance, mandates, Jewish ethics). The baton is being transferred as we speak, and we need to step up and step forward.

Li Boiskin

Why did you join the Board?
Way back, when as Chairperson of BZA WIZO, I was addressed as a future Chairperson of the Board by the late Ian Sacks z”l, then Director of the Cape SAJBD, in his kind and encouraging way, I was flabbergasted but honoured beyond measure. On completing my 3-year term as WIZO Chairperson, I was encouraged by then Board Director, late Suzanne Belling z”l, to stand for the Board election. I duly did and here I am 18 years later, having served on its many subcommittees as a Vice-Chairperson and finally completing a 4-year term as Chairperson. I wanted to be involved at the coal face of the community’s functioning, challenges, confrontation with critical issues, and executing its mission, vision and mandate. I was proud to add my voice to the Board table and the sustainability of our community in its fullest sense.

What do you hope to achieve during your term of office?
Whilst each Board member will have their own opinions on a given matter, our responsibility is to the Board and the community who have elected us, to proudly and loudly care for their wellbeing, welfare and civil rights; free of harm, hate speech and antisemitism. We must do what is necessary to secure our Jewishness and South Africaness. This demands level-headedness, logical thinking, and awareness of our core Jewish values of Tzedek, Chesed and Tzedakah. The Board’s mandate is also clear on our relationship with the South African community; we must engage, interact and work together towards transformation and building a society that is free, equal and equitable.

What other community organisations are you involved in?
My involvement in and love of our community has seen me use my abilities and experience to help build a community operating at maximum possibility. I have been involved in the PTA of Weizmann School, Bnoth Zion Wizo, SAZF (Regional and National), Partnership2000 [Now Partnership Together] Docent, Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre, Mensch, Africa Tikkun and the African Jewish Congress. My involvement was mostly at leadership level and included attending international conferences where I could engage and learn from world leaders.

What are your passions?
My passion is to help the community learn to listen and hear, to foster dialogue and engagement that respects diversity and to confront those issues which are controversial and often cause divisions and polarisation. I am proud to be Jewish, the environment of Yiddishkeit in which I was raised and of our community which continues to evolve. I hope to bring a greater understanding and appreciation of who we are as Jews and South Africans.

What is your vision for the community?
We are an extraordinary community with abundant expertise. Let us not be set in our thinking and responses; rather let us open ourselves to trends and influences, to innovative ideas while respecting tradition which has sustained our community since its establishment. Let us respect our fellow Jews, and receive respect in return. Let us remember that ‘we too were slaves in Egypt’. This imperative is repeated 36 times in the Torah. We live in South Africa and we must care for one another, but not while neglecting ‘the other’.

What do you think is unique about our Jewish community?
So much of what I have expressed talks to my sense of the uniqueness of our community. Our responses to needs at all times but especially in a crisis, speaks to a deep-seated bond between our members. Our uniqueness lies in a shared history that goes back thousands of years enduring untold challenges and revivals- we are a resilient community.

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Published in the PDF edition of the Pesach/April 2022 issue – Click here to get it.

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