UOS response: Stay home or go home

Following the criticism toward the rabbinical leadership in South Africa as being "anti-aliya," United Orthodox Synagogues (UOS) director Darren Sevitz told Metro, "I cannot speak for individual rabbis who may have different views on this issue, but we at the UOS have a particular job and that is to provide services to the local Jewish community and make it as easy as possible to live as a religious Jew in South Africa. No matter how many people leave South Africa, there will always be a core of Jews remaining and requiring our services. The policy of the UOS, says Sevitz, is "Stay home or go home" - in other words, either remain in South Africa or immigrate to Israel." He adds that the UOS constitution "calls upon us to support the World Zionism Movement and we do," adding that "we provide the required certificates confirming that the prospective olim are Jews." "We are certainly not opposed to aliya but having said that, we will do everything in our power to make living as a Jew in South Africa as easy as possible." Responding to the allegation about vetoing the words relating to Israel in a UOS slogan, Sevitz explains that "the Proudly Jewish South African slogan was introduced at the time when commercial products were displaying "Proudly South African" on their packaging as an expression of patriotism, and the late Chief Rabbi Harris felt strongly that the SA Jewish community should also proudly proclaim their identification with the new South Africa, and came up with "Proudly Jewish South African" - a play on words." The issue of "Israel at out hearts" was "never asked of us, never came up and consequently never introduced to the slogan." Sevitz concludes that the UOS "is a very parve (neutral) organization. We don't support, we don't oppose, but having said that we don't discourage aliya."