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South Africa

Rabbi Kaplan's first position straight out of rabbinical school was in Capetown, South Africa. He interviewed for the position in February 1994, which was a few months before the first democratic election ever held there. Nelson Mandela was released from prison in February 1990 and negotiations were begun. When Dana made his first visit, those negotiations had been successfully concluded, and elections were planned for just a few months later. The election was held on April 27, 1994, and was remarkably peaceful as about twenty million South Africans cast their votes, many for the first time. In some areas, there were technical problems and people waited patiently in line under the hot sun for many hours amidst a widespread feeling of goodwill and mutual respect. During his time there, Dana was able to invite quite a number of notable leaders to speak at his temple, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“The Origins of Reform Judaism in South Africa: Rabbi Moses Cyrus Weiler’s Mission Work with the Jewish Religious Union in Johannesburg, 1929-1933”, Shofar, University of Nebraska Press. [in press]


“The Rabbi and the Sharks,” Tablet, August 6, 2013.

“The 2 Sides of Nelson Mandela,” The Forward, July 8, 2013.

“The Rabbi and Nelson Mandela: What the South African leader, hospitalized in critical condition, taught me,” Tablet, June 26, 2013.

“The Jewish Exodus From the New South Africa:  Realities and Implications,” with Shale Horowitz, International Migration, Wiley-Blackwell Publishers, 2001.

“South Africa,” The Reader’s Guide to Judaism: A Bibliographic Guide to English-Language Books and Essays on Judaism, edited by Michael Terry, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000, p. 571.

  • Nominated for a Jewish Book Award, 2001.

​​“South Africa, Practice of Judaism in,” Encyclopaedia of Judaism, Volume III, edited by Jacob Neusner, Alan J. Avery-Peck, and William Scott Green, E. J. Brill Publishers, 2000.

“The Jewish Community in South Africa,” Emunah Magazine, Spring/Summer 2000.

“Is there a Future for the Jews in South Africa?”  Congress Monthly, November/December 1999.

“La Question de l’émigration des Juifs dans la Nouvelle Afrique de Sud,” Yod: Revue Des Études Hébraïques et Juives, No. 6, 1999.

“Reconciliation and Healing—A South African Jewish Perspective,” The Reconstructionist, Vol. 63, No. 2, Spring 1999.

“Jewish Educational Trends in South Africa Today,” Journal of Jewish Education, Vol. 64, No. 3, Fall/Winter 1998.

“Rabbi Ady Assabi and the Development of Conservative Judaism in South Africa,” Conservative Judaism, Fall 1998.

“South African Orthodoxy Today: Tradition and Change in a Post-Apartheid, Multiracial Society,” Tradition, Vol. 33, No. 1, Fall 1998.

“Imagine if the World could live as One,” The Sunday Independent, 1997.

“Jewish Religious Conversion in South Africa Today,” CCAR Journal, Fall 1997.

​​“Controlled Panic in the New South Africa—The Impact of Social Changes in the South African Jewish Community,” Jewish Spectator, Vol. 62, No. 2, Fall 1997.

“Why Do Jews Focus on Crime and Car-Jackings?”  Manna—Journal of the Sternberg Centre for Judaism at the Manor House, No. 56, Summer 1997.

“Progressive Judaism in the Beloved Country: Religious Thought and Institutional Trends in South Africa Today,” The Journal of Progressive Judaism, Vol. 8, 1997.

“Judaism and the Jewish Community in the New South Africa,” Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought, Vol. 45, No. 3, Summer 1996.

"'Yes, a modern renaissance of Judaism is needed for it to be relevant for the new South Africa'," The Sunday Independent, September 17, 1995.

“Your People, My People—Conversion to Judaism and Jews by Choice,” Jewish Affairs, Vol. 50, No. 3, Spring 1995.

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