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The Jewish Report Editorial

Guptas' brief Purim visit

  • JNF - Tu B'shvat
Last week, in our Purim issue, we published - near the front of the newspaper among our more serious news items - a Purim shpiel, historically a comic dramatisation of the Book of Esther, but more recently, also a humorous or satirical, fake newspaper article written during the month of Adar.
by VANESSA VALKIN | Mar 23, 2016

It was a completely outrageous story about the Gupta family who capture headlines daily for alleged corruption and inappropriate influence over President Jacob Zuma - buying the South African Jewish Report.

Apart from the improbability of a sale of a Jewish community newspaper to the Gupta clan, the idea of Hindu, Muslim and Catholic supplements and a new Chazonis Institute founded with the proceeds of the deal, were so preposterous that we thought people would soon realise it was a monstrous, over-the-top joke.

Much to our surprise, however, many did not catch on, even when our Chairman Howard Sackstein wished everyone a “chag Purim sameyach” at the end of the article.

We got panicked e-mails from as far afield as Khartoum, Melbourne, and New York City, and a major revolt was threatened at Sandringham Gardens Jewish aged home in Johannesburg.

The Jewish Report office received a number of anonymous calls too. One man said we had done a good job with the paper but that we should be careful not to put Jews in danger or make people hate us more than they already do. Another woman called, saying that it was “sick, sick, sick and disgusting” and suggested that the leadership should “do the right thing” and resign.

Wow!

Firstly, we offer humble apologies to those who were shocked and disturbed. And for the person who commented that we are endangering our community with this, are we as Jews never allowed social satire?

Secondly, thank you to all our readers who care so deeply and were truly alarmed by the sale. As publishers and content producers, we don’t always know how we are perceived by our readers and whether our work is valued. Based on the reactions to our Purim shpiel, it is evident that we are quite precious to our readers and that our content is considered completely reliable - so frankly we are thrilled.

When our advertising team go out to try to sell ads, they are not always so warmly received and often requests for sponsorship are pushed off by business owners and larger corporate clients. Sometimes we are discouraged by the lack of response and question whether we should be publishing this newspaper at all.

Our publication is not funded by community coffers. Each week, our sales staff “hit the pavement” to sell space. We are also reliant on the proceeds from our annual Achiever Awards dinner where some of you do generously sponsor awards and tables.

And so, for the rest of you who do think we have an important role to play in our community and would be perturbed if we sold out for financial purposes, we ask that now and then, you show your appreciation with your financial support.

Happy Purim and a long weekend, and may the South African Jewish Report be around, independently, for many more Purim shpiels.

3 Comments

  1. 3 Val Levisohn 24 Mar
    I thought your Purim "joke" was in very poor  taste especially with all the flack the Gupta family are involved in at present ,  I think most clear thinking S Africans and especially Jews who at best are all very sensitive,  to add a dig about Muslims taking over our Jewish newspaper 
    Really didn't make a good read, it was both insulting to all concerned and is just looking for a further outburst from our many enemies. ,!!!
  2. 2 nat cheiman 26 Mar
    Val, the Gupta's are not Muslims. They are Indians practicing the Hindu faith. Inasmuch as they are high profile businessmen, purportedly earning a decent living in this country, it is apt to mention an old adage, and that is "the tallest trees catch the most wind".
    The flack that the Gupta's are taking from the media and politicians, are as a result of their own impropriety and no one else.
    Adverting to the "outburst from our many enemies", it is pertinent to remember that for more than 4000 years, Jews have had "outbursts"from their enemies and have overcome them . 
  3. 1 Ruth Lurie 26 Mar
    In serious political and economic times, your Purim announcement was a welcome and hilarious interlude. Throughout history Jews have earned a well-deserved reputation for being able to laugh at themselves and your Purim joke was a welcome reminder of this. Yasher koach to all those responsible for this delightful hoax. May there be many more in the future

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