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Cape Town and Durban communities call for emergency funds




Just like the Chevrah Kadisha in Johannesburg (see page 1), the UJC has launched an emergency fundraising campaign to address the dire economic situation of community members and the unforeseen costs experienced by communal organisations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. The Durban Jewish community has also launched an emergency fundraising campaign.

“The UJC Emergency Fund was established in March 2020 as the pandemic took hold in South Africa and it became apparent that our community organisations wouldn’t have the financial resources to withstand the damaging effects of the virus,” says Levitt.

“We need to raise R10 million to cover the most immediate and vital needs in our community including food supplies, COVID-19 testing, PPE [personal protective equipment], extra staffing of facilities, and financial relief for families.”

To date, the Cape Town Jewish community has spent more than R600 000 on COVID-19 testing (at R850 per test), more than R1 million on PPE with at least a further R2 million to be spent on this in the next three months, and more than R100 000 for on-boarding of additional medical professionals.

“We need help to ensure we have enough funds to continue testing, to ensure we have life-saving equipment, sufficient medical professionals on hand, and that crucial services such as our COVID-19 monitoring programme and helpline are available to our community,” he says.

“Since lockdown, we have experienced a huge spike in requests for food, and the list of clients grows daily.

The Tikvah Foodbank provides non-perishables, fruit, and vegetables to community members in need. “The average monthly cost of receiving these deliveries is R1 500 per recipient per month. As a result of COVID-19, an extra 208 recipients have requested these services – this is an extra cost of R240 000,” he says.

Meals on Wheels delivers precooked meals to needy community members. Three thousand meals are being delivered a month at the total monthly cost of R48 000. The Cape Jewish Seniors Association also delivers more than 200 Shabbat meals a week to the elderly, each costing R100.

The Oranjia Jewish Children and Youth Centre is running on a skeleton staff. It currently provides permanent accommodation and a place of safety for 10 Jewish children aged between nine and 21 years. Meals for the children have been pre-ordered to alleviate some of the responsibility and workload of the carers so they can focus on the needs of our children such as online schooling. This is a temporary measure, but has resulted in increased food costs all-round.

Meanwhile, Durban Jewish Social Services (DJSS) is assisting 127 people across the greater KwaZulu-Natal area, and this number is rapidly increasing, says the organisation’s director, Janine Saperson. “Many Jews with their own businesses have been affected by the pandemic, or those who find themselves without jobs are being forced to ask for assistance.”

The Durban Jewish community numbers between 1 200 to 1 500 people. “For more than 65 years, no Jew has been turned away from the doors of the DJSS. We assist the most vulnerable in the community with food, shelter, rental assistance, medical costs, psychological-health support, and dignity,” she says.

“Traditionally, most major fundraising has been managed by the United Communal Fund. A sad day has dawned as we have been advised that our funding is unsustainable. Jewel House, a home for the most vulnerable community members, as well as 127 people in the greater KwaZulu-Natal area are facing harder times as our funding runs out,” she says.

“We now need to reach out to the broader community and ex-Durbanites all over the world to ask for donations. Our call is urgent. Lives within our community depend on your generosity. Your donation will have an impact on those who seek hope from the DJSS. We can’t turn any Jew away from our doors.”

To donate to DJSS, visit or its Facebook page, Durban Jewish Social Services. To donate to the United Jewish Campaign, visit, or its Facebook page, UJC Cape Town.

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