exploring the concerns of the South african jewish community
In this article Dan Brotman argues that with the hemorrhaging of the South African Jewish community due to emigration, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies should take a proactive role in lobbying for immigration reform and supporting prospective Jewish immigrants.
THE South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) was founded in 1912 as a direct response to the Jewish community’s need to lobby for immigration reform. At the time, the government had enacted a new immigration requirement which stipulated that prospective immigrants must speak a European language in order to be allowed to settle in the country. As Yiddish was not deemed a European language for immigration purposes, this new condition would have effectively put a halt to Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe. The SAJBD successfully lobbied for Yiddish to be recognised as a European language, and as a result the Jewish community continued to grow.
"Between 1981-2005 alone, 40% of the South African Jewish community emigrated for a variety of reasons..."
Although the SAJBD’s activities today primarily focus on combatting antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiments and expressions in government and civil society, I argue that it is once again necessary for the SAJBD also to ‘return to its roots’ and proactively encourage Jewish immigration to South Africa, which will replenish our community’s diminishing numbers.