JOHANNESBURG (Nov. 15)
The Jewish community here is up in arms over the statement that Jewish day schools are “riddled with drug abuse.” The allegation was made by S. Chilchik, one of two members of the Mayor’s Drug Abuse Committee who addressed a press conference of local Jewish newspapermen. The conference was called by Rabbi N.M. Berhnard of the United Hebrew Congregation. Chilchik and City Councilman Dr. A.D. Bensusan both said they were concerned to find many Jews affected by drug addiction.
Chilchik’s remark was denounced in a sermon by Chief Rabbi B.M. Casper over the weekend. It was repudiated by Johannesburg’s Mayor, A.B. Widman, at the national conference of Jewish welfare organizations just held here. Mayor Widman, who attended to convey civic greetings to the conference, said, “I am not aware of addiction to drugs in any one section of the community. I have been trying to get figures, and there are no figures which show drug addiction especially in this or that section of the community. I have not come across figures which show any particular schools to be affected. No one was authorized by my committee to say that any schools were ‘riddled with drug abuse.'”
Mayor Widman said “the person who made this statement has expressed his extreme sorrow that he has been misrepresented in this way.” The Mayor added that his committee “had nothing to do with the interview.” Rabbi Casper said it was “quite reprehensible that a suggestion should be made that this unfortunate ill of modern society is to be found more among our Jewish youth than elsewhere.” He said that from his personal association with the Jewish schools he found that “the assertion is utterly unjustified and ill-founded.”
Louis Sachs, chairman of the South African Board of Jewish Education, also repudiated the charge at a press conference. He noted that the drug problem was world wide and that schools generally were affected. It may be that some children at Jewish day schools are also involved, but to make a blanket accusation was “a canard and a slur on one of the community’s outstanding education achievements,” he said.