Know your Board

Karen Kallmann and Erin Dodo

We decided it’s time we 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!

Karen Kallmann

Why did you join the Board?
Much like Erin, my position as Chairperson of the Union of Jewish Women granted me a permanent seat on the Board — lucky me!

What do you hope to achieve during your term of office?
I plan to represent Jewish women’s concerns and interests on the Board and to partner with it in areas of mutual interest, such as social development, interfaith and work within the Jewish community. There is so much more we can do together when we pool both our intellectual and material resources.

What other community organisations are you involved in?
I am a previous Chairperson of Limmud Cape Town, and a founding member of a women’s Rosh Chodesh Group and a women’s group that meets to sing Hallel on the beach every Rosh Chodesh (new moon). I have initiated and hosted feminist seders and am on the coordinating group of a women’s megillah reading group in Cape Town.

I am an alumnus of the UJC Ignite Programme, the Eliot Osrin Leadership Academy and the Mensch Lift Leadership Programme. I have also been a Rape Crisis counsellor.

What are your passions?
I am passionate about lifelong learning, service to the Jewish and broader community and women’s rights issues. I am a vegan for environmental reasons, an obsessive recycler and love growing my own vegetables. I love history and am currently writing the history of the Union of Jewish Women.

What is your vision for the community?
My vision is a community where every person feels supported, nurtured and has the opportunity to express their opinion and reach their full potential. In return, I see a community where people are engaged both in communal affairs and in the broader community, where we can self-actualise as proud Jews and proud South Africans and where we can make a difference in whatever area we are passionate about.

What do you think is unique about our Jewish community?
There are people who care deeply about our Jewish community and its long-term sustainability, and as a result, we have created community structures that are very organised and work to ensure that there are very few gaps through which members of our community can fall through.

The fact that our community has an allocations committee that supports all kinds of initiatives from welfare and education, to cultural and spiritual development, is truly exceptional and really makes our community unique.

Erin Dodo

Why did you join the Board?
I recently became a member of the Board by virtue of my position as Chairperson of the South African Union of Jewish Students’ Western Cape branch. Being a Jewish student in South Africa, I realised that — more often than not — Jewish people are left out of people’s activism and — despite how ‘woke’ someone is — left out of the narrative. This, for me, had to end. I found myself in a situation where my history and my people’s history was being totally unacknowledged. This really pushed me to join SAUJS and the Board.

What do you hope to achieve during your term of office?
I hope to make Jewish Students in the Western Cape feel more seen and heard and to create an environment on campus where Jewish Students feel they can freely embrace who they are without fear of what people may do and/or think.

What other community organisations are you involved in?
In addition to being a member of the Board and of SAUJS Western Cape, I am also involved in the Zionist Youth Council, the Board’s Generation Next subcommittee and the National Committee for SAUJS.

What are your passions?
My absolute passion in life is definitely politics, and it is one of my majors at UCT. I feel strongly about my beliefs and strive to learn as much as possible about all that I can. Politics was also a major part of my decision to join SAUJS as I knew that it was a great way for me to learn more and engage in more meaningful debates.

What is your vision for the community?
My vision for our community is more active participation in events and in discussions. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, a lot of community activities were halted and many people grew accustomed to the comfort of staying home and being out of the crowd.
My vision is to restore that amazing ‘togetherness’ we are so lucky to have, and for us to all learn from one other. There are so many incredible people in our community who have such great wisdom to share — I wish for us to engage in these experiences and in these lessons so we can, hopefully, create an environment where we can all learn and teach each other.

What do you think is unique about our Jewish community?
The most unique thing about our Jewish community is the incredible support and care we all have for one other. As soon as you meet another member of the community, you immediately feel at home and welcomed — which is such a rare feeling in a society where everyone is always so busy and preoccupied. In our community, all you need to do is ask for help and you will get all the support in the world. We never leave someone behind!

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

Published in the PDF edition of the May 2022 issue – Click here to read it.

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