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Instead of judging the less fortunate, help them

The Torah teaches that all people are created in the Creator’s image and deserve our respect, even if we believe they are different.

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Martin Zagnoev, Johannesburg

Scans show that part of the brain lights up when we do a kind act. We often experience a sense of euphoria when doing so. Shortly before his final stroke, the Lubavitcher Rebbe was asked by CNN what his message to the world was. He said people should increase acts of goodness and kindness.

All the world’s religions are united in emphasising the importance and spiritual power of being charitable. The Kabalah (Jewish mysticism) tells us that every time we do a kind act, a beautiful angel is created. If we could (in this world) see how beautiful it is, we would want to spend all our time doing good things.

Unfortunately, when we experience hardships we might become hardened and lose our capacity to empathise with people. Not only does this make us unhappy, it also reduces our interest in helping others, resulting in our avoiding our Divine mission of improving the world. Fortunately, others gain an enhanced ability to empathise as a result of suffering.

In this country there are extremely high levels of poverty and unemployment. Some have resorted to crime to fill their stomachs.

Others, who are unwilling to steal, wash windows at robots. Before condemning these poor souls, remember that they are attempting to offer a service. It cannot be easy to stand all day, in all weather conditions, while dodging vehicles in an attempt to eke out a living.

They also need to be fairly skilled to quickly clean the windows before the lights change.

Unfortunately, some of them are so fed up that they have become rude, but most are pleasant, especially when we are not hostile to them.

Even though they are wrong to invade our space, do we have the grace not to get worked up? Let us rather rise to the challenge and help sometimes. 

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Golden Acres yom tov services a shining light

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I’m sure we speak for scores of Golden Acres residents who attended the recent yom tov services in expressing our deepest appreciation to Rabbi Jonathan Fox and the management of the Chev for the most inspiring services.

Although Fox wasn’t physically present, his designated officials were outstanding. Thanks to Rabbi Gideon Waks, Rabbi/Cantor Hilly Chrysler, and Spencer Schwartz (your shofar blowing was superb) for leading the services so professionally. Rabbi Fox, the venture served as a perfect substitute for a live drosha. Thanks also to our resident kohen, Tony Damelin, for administering the priestly blessings.

A special thanks to Golden Acres residents Selwyn and Helen Meyers for their usual tireless efforts in making this operation a fulfilling success. Also to Denise Rubin and her dedicated staff for arranging seating under trying circumstances, and for all the paperwork involved.

Once again, sincere thanks to all concerned and to our fellow residents. Thanks also to the Chev for the beautiful flowers and delicious chocolates sent to every resident.

– Norman, Brenda, Choni, and Miriam

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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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