President Joel Visits South Africa

Two-Week Trip Strengthens YU Ties with South African Jewish Community

President Richard M. Joel recently returned from a visit to South Africa, speaking at various communal functions and meeting with a wide range of Jewish leaders in hopes of establishing strategic partnerships between Yeshiva University and South African Jewry.

President Joel addresses high school students at Cape Town's Herzlia School.
President Joel addresses high school students at Cape Town’s Herzlia School.

President Joel began his two-week long trip in the scenic coastal city of Cape Town, where he delivered the keynote address at the annual Cape South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies Conference. The conference, titled “SAFE SPACES: Making Room for Your Views,” featured an array of impressive speakers and panel contributors, including former President F. W. de Clerk, widely credited along with Nelson Mandela with helping to end apartheid in South Africa. President Joel’s address focused on the importance Jewish education in securing a strong Jewish future.

Over Shabbat, President Joel attended services at the Beit Morasha Synagogue and delivered numerous speeches and shiurim [lectures] to the local community.

In Johannesburg, President Joel participated in the 60th Anniversary of the Yeshiva College school [no affiliation to YU], the largest institution of Torah learning in Southern Africa, with over 1,000 students on its Glenhazel campus. In addition, this celebration marked the 50-year anniversary of Rabbi Avraham and Marcia Tanzer’s storied tenure at Yeshiva College. President Joel served as the keynote speaker at the gala dinner event celebrating the Tanzers’ leadership and contribution.

President Joel’s trip also coincided with the “Shabbos Project,” an ambitious and historic brainchild of Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein which invited Jews across South Africa to come together in observing one Shabbat. The weekend was an astounding success with overwhelming participation. In Glenhazel itself, thousands converged on the Yeshiva College campus for an extravagant Shabbat, complete with a host of guest speakers and guest musical performers.

In both Cape Town and Johannesburg, President Joel participated in numerous high level meetings with community leaders in seeking out strategic partnerships between Yeshiva University and those communities.

The trip also struck a personal note for President Joel as a homecoming of sorts; he spent a year living in South Africa as a young child. Among the many personal highlights of the trip, President Joel visited his childhood home in Cape Town.