The role of the Board and its importance in the community

By Tzvi Brivik, Chairperson, Cape SAJBD

Many recognise the role of the Board as that of ensuring that any reported acts of antisemitism are acted upon. 

Whilst this is a primary role, it is certainly not the sole mandate from the community. The Cape Board is effectively a provincial assembly of the community. It constitutes a chamber in which all matters affecting the Jewish community within the jurisdiction of the Cape are canvassed, debated and analysed. This is why it is often referred to as an umbrella body whose deliberations and activities are to benefit the community.

Describing it somewhat differently, the Board’s mandate and scope of authority include both internal matters insofar as harmonious relations are concerned,  as well as protecting the Jewish community from external risks which present themselves — be they in the form of antisemitism, hate speech or a direct infringement of the way in which we are able to practice our religion. We also recognise that within our own community we have many diverse opinions which need to be heard and respected. So how does such a diverse community and a thriving democracy act and function to ensure its success?

A key task for any communal organisation to be successful is to reflect on what basic rules and ideals should be entrenched in our day-to-day functioning. The Jewish philosopher and author of The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure, Yascha Mounk suggests considering inter alia the following: 

What role should the [Board] have in a diverse community such as our own? 

To what extent are diverse opinions expected to be integrated into mainstream thought? 

What sort of informal rules should structure the way in which people lead their daily lives, particularly regarding aspects of religion and patriotism? 

In order to ensure the achievements of the Board; and that the community is a thriving democracy, a broad tent approach is advocated. This means that members of our Board are effectively parliamentarians and representa-tives of a full kaleidoscope of the community. The mandate is to ensure protection both from external groups as well as persecution internally. Members of our community must feel free to express opinions and debate the same within a safe space. The Board has for some time now run various campaigns including #wordsmatter, #community cares and #noplaceforhate, to ensure this. 

We have spent a significant amount of time meeting with our affiliates internally, and with members of our community, supporting projects such as book launches, distribution of reading material for bat mitzvah girls and their parents; as well as making contact with Jewish children and families at non-Jewish day schools. We have also met with various nonprofit organisations which operate in the broader community as well as political and religious leaders, to uphold our mandate and fulfil the role expected of us. In so doing, and in answer to Yascha Mounk’s questions posed above, we engender a Jewish community diverse in its opinion yet united in its support.

Our strategy of engaging, educating and empowering has yielded great results and we have created a significant amount of bridging social capital both within the community and outside. This allows us to dissolve differences and to be extremely effective. 

Five new members of the Board will be elected by public ballot, the digital election of which opens on 11 August and ends on 31 August 2022. A further ten members will be elected by delegates of our affiliated organisations at our AGM on 18 September. This will present us with a new Board made up of 15 members, to serve for two years (2022-2024) and to be announced on 22 September 2022. Get involved with your communal democracy to make sure your voice is represented around our Board table. 

Find out more at

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

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

• To advertise in the Cape Jewish Chronicle and on this website – contact us on 021 464 6700 ext. 104 or email For more information and advertising rate card click here.

Sign up for our newsletter and never miss another issue.

• Please support the Cape Jewish Chronicle with a voluntary Subscription for 2022. For payment info click here.

Visit our Portal to the Jewish Community to see a list of all the Jewish organisations in Cape Town with links to their websites.

Follow the Chronicle: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here