03 January 2007

Cape Town: A conference on Jewish Journeys

When Saul Issrof of London sent me the information on this program, I wanted to take my own Jewish journey to South Africa, at least for January 8-10.

The event features a series of fascinating programs with presenters (including Saul) from New Zealand, the U.K., South Africa, the U.S., Israel, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands. It is a rare conference whose every presentation hits my emotional buttons – Jewish Journeys gets a gold star in this department.

The conference call for papers invited those covering history, literature, sociology of genealogy, philosophy, theology, Jewish Studies, Bible Studies and a wide range of perspectives from ancient through modern traditions.

In case you’re already in South Africa, planning a quick visit, or just want to see what you’ll be missing, here are some highlights:

  • Journeys in ancient Judaism: the migrations of the ancestors
  • When Rivkah left home: Women’s Journeys from Eastern Europe to South Africa
  • Iceberg or Goldberg? Jewish and Non-Jewish Narratives of the Titanic
  • Who do you think you are? Journeys and Jewish identity in the narratives of David Baddiel and Stephen Fry
  • Going East? Coming Home? Jewish Journeys in Eastern Europe before 1939
  • Keeping Kosher: Policies deployed by British and German shipping companies to develop the transoceanic Jewish passenger business.
  • The Role of Travel in Jewish Identity Formation: The Ohlmert Family Sojourn to China as a Case Study
  • German Jewish Immigration to Johannesburg during the 1930s
  • Visiting der Heym! The significance of Jewish ancestral visits
  • Litvak Migratory Decisions in the second half of the C19th and their consequences
  • Layers of Identity in a Jewish Community: from Crypto Faith in Mashhad to Mashhadiland, USA
  • Sephardic Merchant Journeys

I hope that some of these speakers decide to present at future International Conferences of Jewish Genealogy. My Sephardic and Persian personas jumped for joy when I read the titles of the list's final two programs!

The conference is at All Africa House in Cape Town, and is sponsored by the Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research

The Kaplan Centre, founded in 1980, is the only one of its kind in South Africa. Its goals are to stimulate and promote Jewish studies and university research focusing on the South African Jewish community. Multi-disciplinary, it encourages scholar participation in such fields as history, political science, education, sociology, comparative literature, Hebrew and Judaic studies.


  1. Anonymous8:56 AM

    Hi - I was at that conference (I see you missed my paper out in the 'list of highlights'). No offence taken.. Anyway, we have decided that future conferences need more Sephardi and also Mizrachi contributions...so watch out for the 2009 event!
    best wishes
    Fiona Frank
    Lancaster/Strathclyde unis

  2. Dear Fiona,
    Sorry to have missed your paper in the list. The news that more emphasis on Sephardi and Mizrahi contributions will be made at the 2009 conference was wonderful. Do let me know in plenty of time, as I might just come to Cape Town for that one!