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Johannesburg Jews Form Council

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Against a background of political uncertainty in South Africa, Jewish organizations in this city have set up an umbrella body to coordinate community policies.

The Johannesburg Jewish Council will be “advisory and consultative, not prescriptive,” said Mendel Kaplan, who spearheaded its establishment as a strategic planning arm of the local Jewish community.

Kaplan is chairman of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency and chairman of the executive of the World Jewish Congress.

He spoke at a time when negotiations between the government and the African National Congress on a new federal system have pursued a rocky course, punctuated by violent demonstrations.

“We are trying to make a choice for our community, for Johannesburg Jewry,” said Kaplan. “Although we cannot forecast the future, we need to strengthen ourselves.”

In addition to fostering relationships with local bodies, he said Johannesburg Jews need to examine their role internationally.

“The whole world is concerned with us, involved with us,” he said, noting that several international leaders would address Johannesburg Jewry at a conference here next month.

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