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Story on Jewish Flight Annoys South African Education Leader

December 14, 1995
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A newspaper article here about end-of-the-school-year emigration that singled out the Jewish community has rankled the chairman of the South African Board of Jewish Education.

In the Sunday Independent, Jewish journalist Peta Krost recently wrote an article quoting “heartbroken” Jewish families fleeing from the crime-ridden northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

Many families who persevered during the apartheid era and during the unrest of a changed South Africa are now emigrating in the face of an increase in crime.

Chairman Jeff Bortz, however, did not like that the story singled out the Jewish community in its discussion of emigration trends.

Bortz did confirm, however, that 77 pupils – from 36 families – who had attended the Jewish day schools at King David in Victory Park and Linksfield were leaving.

But, he said, “the board takes the view that the emigration trends at the King David Schools are symptomatic of a general trend in the white community in South Africa and is not limited to the Jewish community only.”

“We view the regrettable increase in emigration as extremely unfortunate,” he continued. “The thrust of education at our schools is to encourage our pupils to participate in all respects in advancing the welfare and development of South Africa.”

He said students are encouraged to take part in bettering South Africa through classroom education and programs in the general community.

Most of the people interviewed for the story had fictitious names and had been victims of crimes such as carjackings and burglaries.

One woman was quoted as saying, “I am leaving all our luxuries behind – just so I can live without security gates and alarms and my kids can be safe when they ride their bicycles outside.”

Some Jews who have decided to stay in South Africa are determined to fight the crime.

Jews actively take part in police reserves, for instance. People from all groups have joined community blockand neighborhood watches, and mobile security stations are strategically situated on street corners throughout the northern suburbs.

As King David Primary School teacher Heather Davis, a newly qualified police reservist, said: “It is a case of emigrating or doing something to help.”

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