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Inform Board about exam clashes timeously

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Having just celebrated Purim (duly adapting its laws and customs to COVID-19 conditions), we are now looking ahead to Pesach less than a month away. From the point of view of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), it means gearing up to address potential problems of university exams, tests, or compulsory practicals being set on yom tov. Later, of course, it will be time to plan for Shavuot, and after that, for the extended yamim tovim season commencing with Rosh Hashanah and concluding three weeks later with Shemini Atzeret.

Dealing with these issues is a significant part of our core mandate of upholding the civil rights and religious freedom of the Jewish community. We work closely with various academic institutions in resolving scheduling clashes, and over the years, have thankfully been very successful in that regard. This has been true even over the past 12 months, when all practical solutions had to be arrived at in the context of COVID-19 restrictions. However, in order for the SAJBD to take up these cases effectively with the relevant university, we need to be informed timeously by the students concerned whenever problems arise. I therefore urge religiously observant students to check their exam timetables for the entire year carefully, and in the event of finding any clashes with yom tov, to advise the SAJBD as soon as possible by writing to sajbd@sajbd.org.

COVID-19 Q&A

We are fast approaching the first anniversary of that unforgettable day when South Africa went into hard lockdown and everyone’s lives changed. This week, in response to steadily declining infection rates, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a move to level-one lockdown. While this will significantly ease many of the restrictions the country has been operating under, other restrictions, including curfews, the wearing of masks in public places, and limitations on the size of gatherings remain in place. It hardly needs to be emphasised that we must all resist the temptation to become complacent, and must scrupulously comply with these regulations.

The SAJBD’s COVID-19 Q&A series continues to provide expert advice and guidelines regarding various aspects of the pandemic. These are all readily accessible on our Facebook page, along with extensive information about the pandemic, its impact on the Jewish community, and responses by members of communal leadership that have been uploaded since the pandemic began. This week, we feature video presentations from psychologist David Abrahamson, looking at “The psychological impact of COVID-19 on our children/teens”, and Professor Barry Schoub, the chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on vaccines, exploring the COVID-19 variant and its impact on vaccines, reinfection, and other relevant questions. Please continue to send through your COVID-19 questions to sajbd@sajbd.org, or post them on our Facebook page and we will do our best to get relevant professional experts to answer them.

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

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