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Behaving responsibly in critical times

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Gauteng has emerged as the epicentre of the much dreaded third wave of COVID-19 infection in South Africa, and the Western Cape has also been hard hit relative to the rest of the country. The great majority of Jews reside in these two provinces, and the impact on our community has, indeed, been severe. We all know people who are ill and sadly, many who have died from COVID-19. As goes without saying, whatever these new measures might be, it’s incumbent on our community, collectively and individually, to abide by them strictly.

During the coming weeks, we need to double down our efforts to avoid socialising, to stay at home wherever possible, and meticulously follow all safety protocols relating to wearing masks, sanitation, and social distancing. All over 60s further need to ensure that they are vaccinated at the first available opportunity. We welcome the fact that educators have now been added to those who will receive priority in terms of receiving vaccinations. Those who have questions or need advice can email the South African Jewish Board of Deputies on

Global Jewry confronts rising antisemitism

Last week, the Board’s senior leadership and professional staff had an enlightening, if rather sobering, meeting with our United States counterpart, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), regarding the antisemitic fall-out from last month’s Gaza conflict. National Director Wendy Kahn also chaired the World Jewish Congress’ (WJC’s) National Directors’ Forum meeting looking at the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on South African Jewry, and attended a WJC cyberhate working group meeting where the issue of cyberbullying and intimidation was addressed.

The WJC team will be advocating on these issues with social-media companies as insufficient attention is paid to these matters currently in their codes of conduct.

It was striking to learn, particularly from the ADL and WJC meetings, how closely the trends we have observed in South Africa have mirrored the US and other major diaspora communities. We are seeing the same kind of intimidation, inflammatory rhetoric, and “cancel culture” tactics, although thankfully, lower levels of actual physical attacks. To confront this growing threat effectively, global Jewry needs to work together as much as possible, sharing information and best practice, and forging practical partnerships where such opportunities present themselves. While the intensified wave of antisemitic hatred resulting from the last violent upsurge is very concerning, it’s heartening to know that we aren’t alone but are an active part of a united global Jewish effort to counteract it.

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