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celebrating 80 years

The ICJW President, Sharon Gustafson, has sent Mazal Tov wishes to the members of the Union of Jewish Women of South Africa, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary. "We send all good wishes for at least 80 more years of service and commitment to their community and to the International Council of Jewish Women", says Sharon.

Two very exciting functions have been planned, including a “Divas in Concert’ fundraiser - an evening of popular Broadway songs performed by well-known Jewish women singers.

Back in 1931 Toni Saphra gained the support of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies for the creation of a Jewish women's organisation, with the Johannesburg branch being the first to be established. Over the ensuing years, the organisation expanded throughout the country. The raison d’être was to initiate and develop projects in both the Jewish and general communities.  The UJW of SA became an affiliate of the International Council of Jewish Women and greatly values this ongoing relationship.


Estelle Cline reports that the UJW’s work continues to be characterised by courage, compassion and creativity. Throughout the apartheid years, the UJW pioneered projects using Israel’s HIPPY programme, where mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds were trained to teach their pre-school children. We also started Soup Kitchens at hospitals and in poor Township areas.


The UJW engages Jewish women extensively in educational programmes aimed at strengthening and deepening Jewish identity. We campaign continually for the improvement of the rights of Jewish women in Jewish religious law (halacha). Today in South Africa, due to the UJW’s participation and deep concern, a civil divorce has to be obtained before a ‘get’ can be issued.