It is with great sadness I record the death of Dr Jocelyn Hellig..a dear friend and colleague...a woman of enormous talent...a renowned scholar of religion and humanitarian activist. Jocelyn died while I was in Israel during November 2008.
Jocelyn and I shared more than 10 years as members of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies. I was enthralled at the passion and commitment of Jocelyn who insisted on the tolerance, fairness and an understanding of a minority viewpoint, which would influence the outcome of any debate.
I would like to share with you an address by Jocelyn representing the Board, the content of which I will always treasure.
MESSAGE OF CONGRATULATIONS FROM SAJBD ON THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF TEMPLE ISRAEL 22 July 2006
“Esteemed rabbis, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen
On behalf of the Gauteng Council of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, its gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Temple Israel congregation on the celebration of its 70th anniversary. This is an important milestone, not only for the SA Union of Progressive Judaism, but for all Gauteng Jewry.
Only a handful of congregations in Johannesburg today have reached the venerable age of three score years and ten, and Temple Israel has now joined that distinguished group.
Despite the fact that most Jews that once lived in the greater Hillbrow-Berea area have migrated to other parts of Johannesburg, Temple Israel – the mother synagogue of the Progressive Jewish movement in South Africa – has succeeded in keeping its doors open.
What all South Africans should find inspiring, however, is that this congregation has done a great deal more than merely survive.
Instead, its members have had the foresight to adapt to the changing realities of their environment and to find ways, through their congregational activities, to make a valuable contribution to the well-being of their immediate society.
That is surely a valuable lesson for all South African Jews. Today, our community is faced with a choice: of turning inwards and seeking to perpetuate themselves within the narrow confines of their own communal circles, or of participating, as Jews, as fully involved, identifying and patriotic South Africans.
Temple Israel is a shining example of the latter, and of how a Jewish institution can reinvent itself and remain a beacon of Jewish values of compassion and morality.
May you go from strength to strength in your worthy endeavours.”
Dr Jocelyn Hellig