Steve Lurie the National Chairman of the SAUPJ has circulated an important letter (reproduced below) to attempt to counter some of the misconceptions doing the rounds. I want to support his view that times are changing and change is not always easy. To maintain the SAUPJ in its current form our monthly subscriptions would need to increase by at least 50% and this would still be budgeting for a deficit. This would mean that our shul fees would need to be increased. Rather than do this, which would impact on everyone across the country, we are exploring options for streamlining expenses and building the regional capacity rather than retaining too much power in one province.
The Cape Town synagogues have offered to take over all the National administration for the SAUPJ, leaving the role of a National Office significantly reduced. We are now looking at structures which will enable us to absorb the remaining administration into our synagogues and the important networking and promoting of our movement to a volunteer regional committee under the leadership of a chairperson.
We will work out the details of the relationships between the regions but have absolutely no desire to see the demise of the movement. The role it plays in building our movement, representing us on National and International bodies, retaining data bases of historical information and through its affiliates promoting Netzer, Sacred, National Sisterhood, The Association of Progressive Rabbis, Tamar is too important to consider losing it.
We will keep you updated on proposed changes. The other regions are also discussing these matters and decisions will only be finalised at the June SAUPJ conference.
Hope this gives some clarity.
Below is the letter ciculated by Steve Lurie, the chairman of the SAUPJ:
It has come to my attention that many false rumours about the future of the SAUPJ have been circulating. Here are the facts:
- The SAUPJ is not closing as an entity. Financial pressures have forced us to give notice to our staff and the office will be closing on 31 March 2014;
- Talks are currently underway in Gauteng and Cape Town to formulate the best way for there to be 3 regional offices around the country;
- The Constitution is still valid and can only be changed by those eligible to vote at the Conference of the Union being held in June 2014;
- There can be no dissolution of the SAUPJ unless 75% of the delegates present at the meeting in person and entitled to vote at a Conference (supreme decision-making body – Clause 7.1), plus 50% of the Congregations, vote for the dissolution. A similar number of votes would be needed at this Conference to disaffiliate from the WUPJ (Clause 18);
- It was agreed by the Gauteng Regional Committee, at a meeting held on Monday 17 February 2014 that I would remain as chair of the Gauteng Region until elections take place at the next Gauteng Regional meeting, to be held in March.
- I will remain the chairman of the National Body until the Conference to be held in June 2014 when a duly constituted election will be held for a new chair and I will be retiring.
The financial crisis which has brought about the retrenchment of the office staff was caused, inter alia, by 3 factors:
- The refusal by all congregations to increase their membership subscriptions to the SAUPJ for the past 6 years;
- The insistence by the congregations that the SAUPJ not approach their members for donations due to the fear that this would impact negatively on donations to the shuls themselves;
- The refusal by all congregations to ask their members for a ‘once off’ levy of R300 which would not only have covered our deficit for 2013 but which would have enabled the SAUPJ office to continue running with reduced staff.
The impact of the stories doing the rounds will be extremely harmful to the Progressive movement in South Africa and internationally. I urge the Chairman of all congregations and affiliates to forward this email to their members so that they are aware that the various National and Regional committees are still currently in place and continuing to function. We will ensure that if and when the structures change, these will be implemented as smoothly as possible.