Mancom Talk: From the Committee
Jeff Davis – Kehilla
Before I inform you of my roles in the management committee’s “Kehilla” portfolio, let me introduce myself. I arrived in Joburg seven years ago after completing a BSc in molecular and cell biology at UCT. Here, I entered the teaching profession, dabbling in part-time psychology studies too. I have taught for almost six years and currently teach primary school children at Kairos School of Inquiry, in Emmarentia.
Apart from singing in the Beit Emanuel choir, my Jewish community involvement includes participation in steering committees of Limmud and Temple Israel, as well as co-leading a Jewish-African choir initiative with Leigh Nudelman-Sussman.
“Kehilla” is a term that, in its simplest understanding, means “congregation”. At Beit Emanuel, the term kehilla is broken down into three avenues of action that serve to foster fellowship and social purpose: those actions that pertain to the congregation of Beit Emanuel itself; those that pertain to our place in the greater progressive community; and those that pertain to the relationship between us and the wider community.
It is my task to work closely with Rabbi on planning and executing events that bring the wider South African community to Beit Emanuel for discussions, debates, and sharing of knowledge. The Kehilla team will work to make Beit Emanuel a place where cross-cultural exchanges can be made safely and authentically. By providing respectful platforms where external groups can engage with us and one another, we will fulfil one of the aims of Kehilla: to foster good relations and increase activism for common community challenges. It is hoped that Kehilla will engage us in the enhancement of diversity and the celebration of minority groups’ rights.
Upcoming Kehilla events include study sessions over Shavuoth and a lekgotla on culture and activism over Sukkot. It is traditional to study texts, (particularly Torah texts and Midrash) on Shavuoth as this festival celebrates the existence of Judaism’s greatest texts – the Tanakh.
Finally, another of my roles is to help establish a sustainable relationship between Beit Emanuel and possible donors.