JZ lauds the Jewish community in SA

SOUTH AFRICAN Jewry became the latest beneficiaries of President Jacob Zuma's brand of accessible leadership on Saturday night.

The event was the national conference of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, a body Zuma lauded for its active role in South African society.

Zuma said over the years the board had "become an important structure to articulate issues of interest to the Jewish community", which included the promotion of civil rights, religious freedom and combating of anti-Semitism.

Invoking the spirit of the Constitution that the country belonged to all who lived in it, "united in our diversity", Zuma assured the Jewish community that they too had a place in the sun.

But while it was necessary to allow different cultures to find expression for their uniqueness, culturally and otherwise, "it must not take away the national identity, as we should be South Africans first".

"Our Constitution [also] guarantees freedom of association and disavows the racial bigotry that characterised our past," the president said.

Speakers swore allegiance to governments of democratic South Africa and thanked the leaders, from Nelson Mandela down to the incumbent president for allowing the Jewish people a comfortable home here.

Zuma acknowledged the significant role the Jewish community continues to play in building the country.

"We all know that many within the Jewish community have played a prominent role in the struggle for democracy and freedom in our country.

Though part of a privileged white minority, many Jewish people dedicated their lives to the advancement of the rights of the oppressed majority."