by marina geldenhuys
Marina Geldenhuys reflects on her visceral response during a recent Holocaust study tour to Poland. Drawing from her research which looked at an apartheid-era 'death farm' in the Eastern Cape, Marina suggests that we instinctually search for signs and evidence of violence in places where violence occurred.
THIS last July I visited Poland as a participant in the Poland Holocaust Study Tour 2022, organised by the Austrian Service Abroad, the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre and the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Cape Town. Although the Holocaust is not my area of study, I had spent my honours year absorbed in memory studies of violent histories. In particular my research looked at apartheid security police violence at Post Chalmers, a ‘death farm’ in the Eastern Cape.
"We gathered for prayer at the grave of 800 murdered children and learnt that the executions started in the summer of 1942. Despair rose in my throat as I realised that, at the moment they died, the children saw what we were seeing, their minds probably attempting to reconcile the glade's beauty with its horror".
by ILANA STEin
Ilana Stein reflects on what Judaism says about our responsibility to the planet and explores environmental awareness in the South African Jewish community.
I always wanted to be a game ranger. When I began working in conservation tourism, I discovered a world filled with people who discussed rhino numbers and elephant footprints with an intensity that inspired me. I was thrilled to be part of this group of people who, when faced with habitat destruction, extinction of species and environmental degradation, would unequivocally declare “not on our watch.” But as a practicing Jew I found myself asking whether Judaism explicitly cares about the environment.
"Despite the growth of the green movement in global Jewish circles, the South African Jewish community has lagged behind".
by yanky fachler
With both the South African and Irish Jewish communities being predominantly Litvak in origin, Yanky Fachler explores the commonalities between these two communities.
If my Litvak great-grandfather Jacob Becker, after whom I am named, had not spent a year in Pretoria in the late 19th century and not brought back to Lithuania a pocketful of South African passports, my grandfather, Sam Becker, would have been unable to use his South African passport to escape from Nazi Germany for Britain prior to World War II. As a result, I lived in England for the first 25 years of my life. I then lived in Israel for the next 25 years. Moving to Ireland a quarter of a century ago suddenly made me mindful of my own – and Ireland’s – Litvak heritage. When I was researching my book, Kaleidoscope: Key characters who helped shape the Irish-Jewish community , something that Dublin-born Max Nurock, a former Israeli ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, once said resonated. Nurock had stated that “Ireland’s Jews are a community founded largely by an incomparable generation of Litvak pioneers.”
"No other Jewish community in the world mirrors the South African community more than Ireland’s Jewish community. The size of the two communities as they evolved might be very different, but the essential Litvak nature of both communities has led to striking parallels".
by gabriella saven