By Tzvi Brivik, Chairperson, Cape SAJBD
One of the Board’s core mandates is to ensure that our right to practice our religion as Jews is protected and that we live harmoniously with the broader community.
On 16 May 2022, the United Nations recognises the international day of living together in peace. In essence, this means having the ability to listen and to recognise, respect and appreciate others. The day was established following the devastation of World War II and the significant number of refugees it created. This sadly has become a perennial problem that has been repeated on numerous occasions since in Rwanda, Bosnia, Syria and lately in Ukraine.
The number of refugees following World War II was enormous. At least 9 million people were deported to Germany during World War II, and after it surrendered in May 1945 many were repatriated to their countries of origin. Jewish survivors, having survived the Holocaust and the concentration camps, refused to return to Eastern Europe and so a large westward migration began. These were difficult times and often the Jewish refugees were met with stifling quotas or closed borders. Communities were not always welcoming and starting afresh was difficult. Many of our brethren in Eastern Europe including Moldavia, Belarus and Poland helped Jewish refugees, providing basic necessities as they escaped the terrible scourge of the war.
In Cape Town, together with the Angel Network, we have had an ongoing relationship with Congolese, Burundian and Rwandan refugees, and have aided in the form of meals and support. We will continue to do so as part of our ongoing commitment.
The UN’s commitment to refugees must be supported globally. Particularly amongst European countries, there has been a hardening or shifting attitude towards migration which manifests itself in a reaction against NGOs. Working through our Interfaith & Intercommunity and Associate Relations subcommittees, we continue to bring attention to the suffering of forced migration, particularly in the face of war, by educating our own community and the broader Western Cape community.
We also continue to engage with universities such as Stellenbosch and the University of Cape Town, to ensure that our student’s religious rights are respected on campus. In addition, through regular dialogue, we are able to keep abreast of any other issues relating to student life on campus and swiftly deal with them together with our youth organisation partners, which include SAUJS, Chabad on Campus and others. We encourage all students to join these organisations and take advantage of the rich cultural events they host throughout the year.
Finally, we welcome our 2022 biennial election of Board representatives. Make sure to follow us on Facebook (@CapeSAJBD) and Instagram (@capesajbd) to receive updates on our election process and details on how to register to vote, how to nominate and how to vote.
Published in the PDF edition of the Pesach/April 2022 issue – Click here to get it.
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