In recent years some of the most strident international anti-Israel activism has come out of South Africa — a rally last month against Israeli Independence Day sponsored by South Africa’s major trade union confederation, special labels for products made by Israeli companies in “illegal settlements” on the West Bank, support for an academic boycott of Israel and for the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Each and every year, at precisely this time of year, I find myself struggling with the question of who owns Jewish history.
It sounds like an odd question, I know. In a sense, it is. But what I mean is that there are some chapters of our history that are so imprinted on the broader consciousness of western civilization that it often feels as if we have handed over our historical experience to the rest of the world, to use as it pleases.
SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- For three decades now, the American Jewish Reform movement has considered as Jewish the child of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother who is raised as a Jew.
But most Reform Jews in the rest of the world still do not accept “patrilineal descent.”
That makes the debate about “Who is a Jew” not just between the Orthodox-dominated Israeli Rabbinate and American Jewish liberal movements, but also between American Reform Judaism and most of the Diaspora.
(JTA) -- South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein has slammed a petition seeking the removal of Desmond Tutu as patron of two Holocaust centers in South Africa.
"I believe it is wrong to call for the resignation of Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a patron of the Holocaust Centre," Goldstein said in a statement released late last week.
“In deference to Archbishop Tutu’s widely recognized leadership role in the struggle against apartheid and to his revered position in South Africa, it would be an act of disrespect to remove him as a patron.”
Years ago, I found myself studying German at the Berlitz school in Rockefeller Center. My classmates were a fascinating lot: international business people, Austrian Airline workers, diplomats and their significant others, all learning German for love or money.
They were also a well-traveled lot, so one day when the teacher was late, the conversation fell to favorite travel destinations. Would the consensus be Paris, Italy, Hawaii? Not even close: to a one, they all replied, “Cape Town, South Africa.”
Some Jews decide to stay, some make new homes in South Africa
Johannesburg — During his latest visit to a small Jewish community north of South Africa, Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft dealt with his usual duties as spiritual leader to half a continent: carrying medical supplies, arranging worship services, comforting elderly Jews.
But he didn’t have to help plan for an evacuation.
What’s fueling Jewish community’s
new outreach to blacks?
Khayelitsha, South Africa — Standing in the shadows of a corrugated shack that serves as a day care center and elementary school for a dozen children in the middle of this black township near Cape Town, Xolelwa Bobo receives some good news from a visitor one recent morning. The visitor tells Bobo, a 20ish mother who runs the Sakhisizwe Education Center, that a philanthropist in England has agreed to provide funding that will upgrade the simple building.