Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Launch of the Goldene Medina Exhibition.Celebrating 175 years of Jewish life in South Africa


This particular exhibition was officially opened on Monday, 08/05/2017.

Just before the event started, I was introduced to Veronica Phillips,
a Holocaust survivor who taught my wife how to dissect a fruit fly when she was
studying genetics!

And even though winter has started to be felt here in Johannesburg,
there was a large turn-out.

Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba reads his speech,
with Chief Rabbi,Warren Goldstein, looking on...

The evening was opened and hosted by the Chairman of the Gauteng SAJBD
(South African Jewish Board of Deputies),
Shaun Zagnoev.

The first speaker of the evening.
A greeting from Ayellet Black.
Deputy Head of Mission, Israeli Embassy. 

Next to the lectern...
The Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba.
He spoke emotionally about what the Jewish population had done during the struggle pre-1994
and what they continue to do for the South African economy.
Although only 9 months into his term as Executive Mayor,
he is already starting to make his mark on the corrupt and rotten system that he inherited.
The crowd was generous in its applause for what he is trying to achieve in a very short time.

Next up...a man with a rather thankless task.
Gavin Morris, the Director of the South African Jewish Museum in Cape Town.
He has curated this exhibition and he had to field a lot of
"Why are... not featured here tonight" type questions.
I was one of those who "questioned" him about Oudtshoorn, Paarl and Port Elizabeth
not being represented...
His response?
"Come and visit the museum in Cape Town"...

And last, but by NO means least...
Tali Nates...the passionate and effervescent Director 
of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.

It might look like the Chief Rabbi  was doing some sort of "happy dance"
to celebrate the opening...
Not true...he was trying to look at his watch!

The reason that the images and anecdotes have been "adapted",
is to prevent what is known in Yiddish as a "faribel"...a grudge or a grievance.

This was a joyous exhibition and the stories certainly seemed to resonate for those who attended.
There was even an Afrikaans couple that I chatted to who were there because they 
had Jewish friends while growing up!

I am certain that many of us would remember the dreaded sentence
"Family hold back" just in case there was not enough for seconds
when visitors came for dinner.

I was one of the first to visit the camp at Onrust near Hermanus.
My camp number that year was 53!

I wondered why this commando spoke Hebrew...

Kevin Ritchie (The Star), my wife, Carolyn and Jeremy Gordin...
multi-award winning journalist, author, poet and ex editor of Playboy magazine.
If that is not enough, he also played rugby for Israel.

I cooked peanuts in sardine oil in a biscuit tin while on the train going to camp.
They tasted AWFUL

 Coming from Port Elizabeth, I never got to experience this.
But my in-laws have spoken of it often.

The hands of a Holocaust survivor...
May we never forget.

The Centre, situated just off Jan Smuts Avenue,
is where this current exhibition is on display.
Call them on:
011 640 3100/2148
Or visit their website:


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