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The go-to Facebook group for Joburg moms

  • JoburgJewishMommies1
If you are looking for a babysitter, extra lessons for your kids or even a caregiver for your elderly mother, ask a Jewish mom. We are known for being cautious and expecting good references.
by Moira Schneider | May 03, 2018

So, if you have something you want to enquire or vent about, where do you go? For all things that relate to women’s lives, they know exactly where to go – to their own Facebook group.

The group, aptly named Joburg Jewish Mommies, has become the go-to place for most Jewish moms, as well as Jewish women who are not mommies. This popular site has a membership currently numbering almost 6 000.

Joburg Jewish Mommies is a success story both in terms of its numbers and of extending its reach way beyond its original goal, while maintaining its core function.

The site was founded five years ago by Chana Leah Shishler to serve as a support group for mothers within the religious community. When Shishler went to the US the following year, Philippa Bergman assumed the role of administrator for the group. She was later joined by Nicky Friedman Winik and Wendy Furman Miller.

Over the years, the membership has grown by leaps and bounds from the original 100, and its good work reaches well beyond the confines of the community.

The administrators keep tight control, making sure that nothing “untoward” occurs, Bergman says. “It’s hard. The women like to have their say, regardless of the rules, and often we are shutting down posts, deleting posts or blocking comment on posts.

 “We’ve got to keep reiterating that it’s not just a free for all – you need to have rules in place in order for something to run smoothly,” says Bergman.

“Hate speech, racism or bad-mouthing of any business, person or entity will not be tolerated. No naming and shaming, no personal attacks and no offensive comments to any members will be tolerated.”

Adds Miller: “Because it is a Jewish group, we need to adhere to certain Jewish ethics and morals. As soon as lashon hara or naming and shaming comes up, it gets deleted immediately.”

Offenders may be removed from the group for a two-week period, after which they can rejoin.

Says Bergman: “Unfortunately, being a Jewish community, we obviously have to be aware of any infiltration from outside the community (to garner information). We often get fake profiles that pop up – they are not really there to do harm, but I think they are there more for the kicks, to see if they can get responses out of people.”

Nevertheless, possible fake profiles are reported to the Jewish Community Security Organisation for verification.

Miller sys: “It is not only a platform to give support to fellow Jewish moms or women, but it’s extended beyond that to, for instance, helping in squatter camps or helping underprivileged schools in Alexandra.

“Even though it’s a Jewish group, it doesn’t mean that the support stays within the Jewish environment. It’s a platform to help other people – and people want to help,” she stresses.

A member recently posted a message about her housekeeper’s son, who was looking for holiday work to help pay his varsity fees. She was contacted by someone on the group who offered to assist financially.

Perhaps the most striking example is a current fundraiser for a young Jewish mom, Vanessa Abro, who requires life-saving cancer treatment in India. “Within three days, R35 000 was raised on the group and it is going up every day,” says Miller.

So far, monies raised total about R300 000 towards the target of R400 000. Miller estimates that over half was raised by Joburg Jewish Mommies and the balance by Joburg Jewish Singles 35+.

“People ask for donations of toys and blankets for the public hospitals. It’s an amazing community,” she adds.

Last year Miller, through the group, ran a blanket drive for the paediatric oncology ward at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in memory of her late mom. “The response was amazing.”

In the case of “big money”, members’ posts have to go via the administrators to ensure that funds reach the intended beneficiary.

Membership of the group extends worldwide, with South African expats as well as their friends joining up.

Bergman labels the group “an information highway”. It is also a safe haven for sound advice.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Anita Breier Davidson 07 May
    Anxious to reconnect with old friends in SA!

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