The work of the Foundation

Mindful of the late Rabbi Harris’ passion, love and enthusiasm for living Judaism and its values, the Chief Rabbi CK Harris Memorial Foundation decided to honour his lifetime of service by helping to enrich the skills of those who care for others.

When the founding trustees came together, it soon became obvious that the legacy which should especially be remembered, preserved and passed on was the late Chief Rabbi’s outstanding professionalism in all spheres of communal life.

Everything Chief Rabbi Harris did was carefully considered, researched and illustrated from the precepts of Jewish sources. The trustees set out to continue that path, providing staff skills training to organisations in fields that were close to his heart. The budgets of many organisations rarely allowed them to invest in staff enrichment. Assisted by many generous donors and supporters, the Foundation has since worked with a host of relevant organisations which fulfil its objects, assisting them to improve and expand their invaluable work through ongoing staff training.

The four main areas  the Foundation has focused on are :

Rabbis for the 21st century

The Rabbinical Association of South Africa alerted the Foundation of the need for practising Rabbanim to enhance their practical skills. The Foundation has over the years been privileged to provide successful seminars in which over 60 Rabbanim have participated.

Well-known Rabbinic ‘trainers’ from Israel and the United States have joined with local senior Rabbanim to provide tuition in every aspect of practical Rabbinic endeavour. This included communication, preparation of addresses, behaviour and appearance in the pulpit, counselling , time management and addressing issues around antisemitism and State of Israel.

It also involved in-depth examination of the psychological and social problems confronting members of our communities and encouraging an understanding of the need for the mentoring of in-service Rabbanim.

Medical care for vulnerable children

The Foundation was fortunate to create a partnership with the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, which has a unit with a worldwide reputation for successful treatment of paediatric oncology patients, treating children from all over South Africa.

The Foundation provided assistance to the medical staff of the oncology unit, enabling them to train medical personnel from hospitals in other centres. This allowed them to gain invaluable experience.

These specially trained staff were then equipped to run units in over half a dozen hospitals in the Southern and Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal. An added advantage was that the contacts made during the participants’ training at Red Cross provided them with a database of colleagues always available for advice and support.

Jewish community services

The Foundation challenged national and provincial organizations to go through a process of self examination to see if it could assist them to ‘do it better.’ This approach has led to the expansion and upgrading of services offered to the Jewish community where gaps in the framework appeared.

The bulk of this work was in the welfare and education sectors and the Foundation has supported a range of ongoing in-service practical management training.

The Foundation has, among other things:

  • assisted groups of several welfare organisations to provide training for all their staff in basic health care and enhanced care for the elderly, physically and mentally challenged and the very young.
  • provided bereavement counselling training, ranking with the best society has to offer.
  • provided training for teams of teachers and youth workers in identifying evidence of child abuse.
  • assisted with training of academic staff for adult Jewish education.

Development skills for disadvantaged communities

One of the hallmarks of the late Chief Rabbi’s rabbinate was to convince the South African Jewish community that promoting Jewish values included extending the hand of assistance and friendship to disadvantaged South African communities.

It soon became clear that human resources were almost as scarce as financial ones. The Foundation worked to form partnerships with a variety of NGO/CBOs, some of whom were quite sophisticated in their organisation, whilst others struggled to even identify the problems which beset them.

The Foundation has supported a number of projects which have benefitted and provided comfort to many wounded lives.

Amongst the projects done by the Foundation:

  • The development of school principals and high school educators.
  • Enhancement of the skills of literacy teachers in neglected primary schools.
  • Training of auxiliary social workers and human resources staff in NGO’s.
  • The strengthening of the leadership teams and increasing efficiency in administration.
  • Training staff to empower women and to recognise child abuse.

Beneficiaries of the foundation over the years