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Jews share a strong and vibrant life in SA

  • 2a-Mary Kluk tightcrop
On the first night of Shavuot, shuls throughout the country were again packed for Tikkun Leil - the traditional programme of learning through which Jews celebrate the festival of the giving of the Torah.
by MARY KLUK | May 27, 2015

On the preceding Friday, school parents joined their children for the Generation Sinai programme, an inspiring initiative of the Chief Rabbi that has significantly contributed to strengthening the bond that our Jewish heritage plays in connecting the generations.

Levels of knowledge and observance may differ, but across the board, we are undoubtedly seeing an ever-growing involvement in the culture of learning. This is not limited to specific times of the year, but a range of activities and programmes provide opportunities for our community to deepen their Jewish knowledge all year round.

No matter how tough the climate may be, we should always be aware of the strength and vibrancy of Jewish life in this country. Despite negativity in the media and occasional ant-Semitic incidents, people have not been discouraged from living a full Jewish life. If anything, the contrary has been the case.

Our community has risen to the challenge by intensifying their identification with both Judaism and Zionism, as shown by record attendances at communal events. South Africa has its problems, but our situation is vastly different from that of our co-religionists in many other parts of the world, where openly identifying as Jews is becoming increasingly hazardous.

This month marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe.

The world over, ceremonies have been held to pay tribute to the Allied soldiers who risked, and often lost, their lives to make possible the defeat of Nazism.

Inevitably, the collective Jewish memory of the war is dominated by the knowledge that for three out of every four Jews in Europe, the defeat of the Nazi regime came too late. That being said, we should remember, too, the role that Jews played in achieving the final victory, whether in the armed forces of the Allied countries or on the home front.

South African Jewry, co-ordinated by the SAJBD, threw itself heart and soul into the war effort. An estimated 15 per cent of its members served in the armed forces, while on the home front, communal organisations were involved in innumerable supporting initiatives, from fundraising through to providing support for those in uniform.

In Durban, we are particularly proud that the Durban Jewish Club served as a canteen and place of relaxation for some two million Allied servicemen. It is also gratifying to recall that the SAJBD took responsibility for assisting nearly 2 000 Jewish refugees from Europe who had been interned on Mauritius after being prevented by the British from entering Palestine.

Taken as a whole, the dedicated efforts of our forebears during these times of immense challenge is something we can draw inspiration from as we seek, as a community, to make a meaningful contribution to addressing our country’s challenges today. 

 

  • Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00 - 13:00.

 

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