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But is it funny? Yes, it is.

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Communal organisations and rabbis have responded with outrage to recent spoof videos that made fun of the controversy over kashrut prices. A video of Hitler shouting at his generals in the movie Downfall was generated with new subtitles that related to communal unhappiness with the cost of kashrut.

The association made by the video was clear: the chief rabbi was being criticised for being unsympathetic and dictatorial when it came to kashrut fees.

Some have even demanded that the creators of the video be outed and shamed.

The SA Jewish Report ran an article on the controversy headlined: “But is it funny?” Well, the answer is yes, it is.

Sometimes what’s funny doesn’t coincide with what’s politically correct. Sometimes the very controversy of the association (in this case, the dying days of Hitler’s power) is possibly what makes it so funny.

This particular video has been used time and again to protest against things that people are unhappy about, including superficial things like the unavailability of a beloved coffee shop or rugby matches during lockdown. This makes it a meme – which is hard for anyone to define, but it’s definitely not a personal insult.

Similarly, the scene used, in which Hitler shouts and screams at his generals, makes fun of Hitler. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why it’s OK as a form of protest.

Far be it for anyone, including our learned rabbis, to declare what’s funny and what’s not. The very nature of satire is that it’s controversial, otherwise it’s not satire.

What anyone criticising the outrageousness of daring to compare the chief rabbi with Hitler – and by Jews, no less (shock and horror) – seem to miss is that it’s a way of protesting a situation that some feel to be untenable.

This isn’t to deny that the Holocaust was horrific beyond measure, but the video wasn’t about the Holocaust, it was about the Union of Orthodox Synagogues and kosher prices. Perhaps that, at the heart, is what is shocking our communal leaders so much.

Satire is a form of protest. It’s not about insulting a man who is the spiritual leader of the community, it’s not about making light of the Holocaust, it’s about generating comment regarding an issue that’s important to the community.

We don’t need more censorship. We’ve been down that road again and again. Rather, those insulted and offended by the video should consider why it was made, and respect our constitutionally enshrined freedom of speech.

Maybe they should also just let go a bit and understand that laughter, no matter how it’s generated, is healthy and healing.

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Tribute to a man who embodies Judaism at its best

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As the Torah observant manager of a busy food establishment and as a member of the Jewish community, I wish to give thanks and recognition to a pillar of righteousness.

Rabbi Yossi Baumgarten joined the United Orthodox Synagogues (UOS) kashrut department more than 40 years ago, and gave the prime of his life to serve the community.

No factory was too far. No mashgiach question was turned away, even if called at 01:00.

Baumgarten addressed kashrut matters with integrity and honesty, and with a zest and energy that motivated and inspired all those who had the privilege and honour to work with him.

I once had the privilege of going on a trip with Baumgarten. The man is utter Judaism. From the way he treats others, to the way he ties his shoes and walks. His greatness is in his kindness, humility, and truthfulness.

The UOS kashrut department has been internationally recognised for decades as a result of the sterling input of Baumgarten, and this is evident by the many calls and messages he would field throughout the day from people all over the world. Whether it be a call from the Orthodox Union or the OK or Star K certification agencies, or a mashgiach or local housewife, the Jewish local community and the kosher world at large owe Baumgarten a debt of gratitude.

On behalf of the Mashgiach Association, we wish Baumgarten much strength and success in all his future endeavours.

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Deafening silence about Afghanistan, hue and cry about Israel

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Tali Feinberg’s excellent piece in the SA Jewish Report (2 September) titled Africa4Palestine Compares Israel to Nazi Germany, offers sufficient expert academic opinion to totally discredit this narrative that is the backbone of the organisation’s campaign. That crusade together with the continuous use of the apartheid canard has one goal only: the total destruction and delegitimisation of Israel. Both apartheid and Nazi myths carry powerful emotive connotations.

While these falsehoods are somewhat over-played and over-used, Israel’s defensive operations are what elevates the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions organisation’s attack to a crescendo. Just months ago, the world erupted in a show of anger, with hordes filling the streets of capital cities, admonishing only Israel during a conflict with the Hamas terror group.

Contrast that to the recent get together in which Hamas and Islamic Jihad poured congratulations on the Taliban for the takeover of Afghanistan and broke bread together. These Sunni terror groups, including Al-Qaeda, share an ideology of gender violence and misogyny, and support each other in multiple ways. Of course, the Taliban’s unmentionable barbaric treatment of women has been well documented and condemned by most of the world.

Those throngs of protesters voicing thunderous support for Hamas, the blood brothers of the Taliban, now manifest a deafening silence. Where is “the squad” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib? Not forgetting Jewish college students on the left, who all had much to say in their condemnation of the only country in the region able to stand up to terrorism of this kind.

Are those protesters oblivious to the plight of Afghan girls and women?

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Letters/Discussion Forums

US left’s outrage over Kabul bombing smacks of hypocrisy

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As the deadline for the evacuation of those desperate to flee the Taliban take-over of Afghanistan approaches, ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) detonated two deadly suicide explosions in the airport precinct of Kabul, killing more than 60 civilians together with 13 United States (US) military personnel.

This tragedy as the events in Afghanistan unfold bought home the reality of having to contend with these types of contemptable and despicable atrocities that aren’t foreign to the Middle East – not to forget where suicide bombing originated more than 20 years ago.

The untimely deaths of the 13 US servicemen has had a profound effect on the psyche of the American public, whose outrage is expressed in most prominent press reports, and is a stark reminder of the dangers of foreign assistance to unstable areas around the world.

Why should American boys die while defending freedom and democracy, is a question on everybody’s lips.

Most Americans, from Democratic liberals to the Republicans, are outraged and incensed – about the only time that the two agree on anything. Even those high-profile celebrities, with the likes of “The Squad” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. Not to forget Trevor Noah and the Hadid girls, and of course, the left Jewish college students, who all had much to say in their condemnation of the only country in the region able to stand up to terrorism of this kind.

Just a short while back, these good folk were singing the praises of another organisation, the actual founders and inventors of suicide attacks, in fact showing no remorse whatsoever that such attacks are perpetrated against other democracies. In those cases, the perpetrators are the heroes, and the victims condemned by this coterie. Would this set be accused of hypocrisy? Surely not, given the outrage demonstrated today in the US.

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