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Because we give a damn

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I didn’t know Julie Treger. And I didn’t know her husband, who passed away suddenly three months ago. And yet, the news of her death shook and unnerved me. My heart breaks for the children left, and for the families and friends who loved them.

I know Gary Bress, but only enough to say hello, and ask him how he’s doing. And yet last week Thursday night, I found myself adding him to my prayers when the news of his kidnapping began to circulate. Even then, I had no idea who it was as I had only his Hebrew name to go on.

I celebrated his return to safety as though he was a close friend. Such was the relief that I felt and that rippled across the community when he was found physically unharmed.

I don’t know the 16-year-old teenager who collapsed while running a cross country, but I do know his parents, and I do know some others in our community who have suffered life changing and horrific incidents over the past six months. Some are friends and some are just names that I might have heard, but can’t really be sure.

On some days, news of these events feels overwhelming. And many a time, it feels almost too much to bear. It feels like there’s a tsunami of bad news, and that there’s more suffering than in prior years.

Maybe the approach needs to be different, and instead of being devastated by the terrible news that seems to come at us like an unrelenting wave, we should consider an alternative. Because feeling means caring. And a caring community is exactly one that is worth living in.

It might sound counter intuitive, but this is what I mean.

Whereas there might be days when the news seems unbeatable, I’m certain that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Why? Because feeling means that we give a damn. And that beats the alternative by a long shot.

When I interviewed the mother of kidnap victim, Gary Bress, I was struck by her sentiments. Instead of being angry and resentful, she was thankful. Not only for the fact that her son had been saved, but for the immense amount of care the family received. She repeated over and over how much gratitude she had to our Community Security Organisation, to CAP, and to all who supported the family through what was an unimaginable ordeal.

People and organisations who give a damn.

The degrees of separation in our community aren’t many. With shrinking numbers, there’s a sense that each soul counts. There’s a high value placed on care. No society is utopian by any means, and yet, there’s little arguing that the South African community is defined by kindness and chesed. And the fact that we give a damn.

I don’t know why there’s a spate of bad news. But I’m grateful that I care, and blessed that as a community, we give a damn.

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  1. vince

    Jun 20, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    your article is moving – and I long to be in a community such as yours- I knew Julie as i worked with her – a women that did so much not only for her own community but for all walks of life- from the street corner to the boardroom she never hesitated to help – we lost a hero, a friend, a colleague and a mother

    ” leaves a world of pain to reign in a world of peace’



    Jun 20, 2022 at 8:52 pm

    6 to 9 am YOU are Amazing the way you speak put out feelings in a way that makes us as a JEWISH COMMUNITY FEEL SO SO PROUD

  3. Mike Jankelowitz

    Jun 23, 2022 at 5:49 pm

    Again you touched on such a vital aspect of being a human. Its about caring.
    Thanks for your wonderful messages. Always appreciated.

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