The World Jewish Congress deeply mourns the passing of Ann Harris, human rights activist, humanitarian and former president of the African Jewish Congress, which represents southern African Jewry on the world stage.
A lawyer by profession, Ms. Harris moved in 1987 from London to South Africa with her husband, the late Rabbi Cyril Harris, who served as the country’s chief rabbi until 2004, a year before his death. Although she gave up her practice when she moved to South Africa, she continued to be active in the fields of civil and women’s rights, including involvement in the South African Law Commission’s Committee on Jewish Divorce, which was led by her husband. Ms. Harris was a member of the board of the Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre and was one of the founders of Afrika Tikkun, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and families through education and improved health and social services.
When she made aliyah in May 2022, many of the tributes from the South African Jewish community noted her enthusiasm and commitment not only to the Jewish community but to wider society. “Ann’s acumen and abilities went hand-in-hand with an unswerving integrity and the highest ethical values,” wrote Karen Milner, president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and WJC vice president.
Mary Kluk, chair of the Africa & Australia Jewish Congress and WJC vice president, said, “I worked closely with Ann on many projects and her commitment to and passion for our community was extraordinary. She will be missed.”
World Jewish Congress Executive Vice President Maram Stern said, “Ann Harris was a truly inspiring figure on the international Jewish scene and always a pleasure to work with. She was active in the Jewish world for decades and was a voice of moral clarity against injustice wherever she saw it. Ann was a woman of valor who embodied the best of Jewish values. May her memory be for a blessing.”