Executive Director, Beit Emanuel
It’s hard to imagine Beit Emanuel without Kito Holz, the amiable Executive Director, whose pragmatism and good humour have kept the shul on course through many a difficult period over the past 35 years. For many members of Beit Emanuel, even those who attend shul only once a year, a vivid memory is of Kito expertly blowing the shofar on the High Holy days.
Kito, who has been chairman of Beit Emanuel six times, became Executive Director in 2009, on his retirement from his job in the IT industry.
Kito was born in Cape Town in 1945 to a family who were active in Progressive Judaism. His uncle, for example, was a rabbi. Kito was barmitzvah at Temple Israel in Cape Town. He did his undergraduate, honours and Master in Nuclear Physics studies at the University of Cape Town. After his studies were complete, Kito relocated in 1971 to Johannesburg where he worked for many years in the IT industry.
In 1967, Kito volunteered to help during the Six Day War and worked on a kibbutz for six months. On the kibbutz he met the current Chairman of Beit Emanuel, Simon Hochschild, and the two have remained friends ever since.
In 1973, Kito married Moira at Temple Emanuel. They were married by Kito’s brother, Rabbi Anthony Holz of Temple Menorah in Pretoria. Kito and Moira have been active participants in shul activities ever since.
Kito became active in Beit Emanuel management in the early 1980’s, taking a number of different portfolios on the committee. He has also been chairman for six years, on three separate occasions, making him a one-man encyclopedia of Beit Emanuel lore.
He became Executive Director of Beit Emanuel in 2009, when the late Helene Deverneuil, who had held the position for 22 years, became ill and resigned. Kito, who had reached retirement age, relished the opportunity to change careers and become involved full-time in the day-to-day running of the shul.
In his role as Executive Director, Kito deals with new members, finance, maintenance and all administrative aspects. The shul is understaffed, so Kito is obliged to do as much as he can wherever he is needed.
Kito is extremely passionate about the future of Progressive Judaism in South Africa and considers himself a committed ‘man of his word’. Moira and Kito have one daughter, Melissa, who lives in London, and two grandchildren.