Reflections on my chairmanship

By Tzvi Brivik, Chairperson, Cape SAJBD

As I write these words, I cannot believe that I am reflecting on the past two years already. 

This has been such a busy time. It started with the election in September of 2020, when a huge effort was made to engage approximately 12 000 potential voters registered on the communal register. Together with 14 other members of our community, I put up my hand, indicating that I’d be willing to serve the community and, in so doing, act in its best interest.

Before I share with you what this has meant for me, it is significant to note that the community and the work of the Board is not cyclical or repetitive. Our community is fortunately not static, it’s more like a raging river. There’s a history which cannot be ignored, and for us to work effectively, we need to understand what has happened in the past. We need to know what decisions have been made, and the reasons that they were made. That’s not to say that rivers cannot change their course and be diverted. This community was established over 180 years ago, and the Board itself was established almost 120 years ago. In that time our community grew and so did its needs both inward-facing and outward-facing. 

The inward-facing needs were for Jewish day schools and for us to take care of each other. From birth and preschools all the way through to old age; as well as taking care of the disabled and the less advantaged in the community. There was also a requirement for protection against antisemitism and attacks on our Jewish way of life. The law is becoming a core mandate for the Cape SAJBD.

The outward-looking projects included advocacy, promoting our community, and ensuring a harmonious relationship with the current government. There have been encouraging interactions both formal, less formal, and social with other communities.

When I took the Chair I considered the sentiments of our community — what did they want from a functional Board of Deputies, and how could we aspire to meet these communal needs. I set out these guidlines at the commencement of my term. We were to be transparent, and have the integrity to realise that we do not function in our silos but as part of the whole. There would be no such thing as shareholder primacy as there is in business. We are accountable to all of our affiliates, stakeholders and community.

We also need to be cognisant of the responsibility we have to create an inclusive community. Many people in our community are involved not only with our various affiliates and communal organisations, but also in decision-making and in the development of youth and future leadership.

I would like to thank our current Council and the Executive as well as the professional team. Without them the Board would not have been able to incorporate the sentiments above as values which guided us around the table and ensured that we acted effectively as an organisation and in our decision-making.

I believe that we did set an example in leadership. We were not stifled by fear, and we acted as trusted mediators and intermediaries as well as interlocutors to our Jewish community.

In my time as Chair I met with many incredible human beings working in our community for its greater benefit, who gave selflessly of their time and wisdom. I believe this to be the strength and uniqueness of our community, and urge everyone to become involved and share in it.

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

• Published in the October 2022 Digital Edition – Click here to read it.

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