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Jews can only call Israel their ‘home’

I found the editorial two weeks ago on teaching our children the meaning of freedom and the positive aspects of being part of the Jewish community in this “great democracy” of South Africa, informative.

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Choni Davidowitz

But I feel that those words are the diametric opposite of what our children should know about living in a land which can never be called their own. They certainly cannot ever be free in any country but their own, and that country is certainly not South Africa, or any other place outside Israel.

The editorial states that our children are part of a fascinating tribe of people who have thrived wherever they have settled. This might have been true before the rebirth of Israel under Jewish sovereignty after 2 000 years of cruel exile. Since then, however, the Diaspora has become Jewry’s graveyard.

Demographers have asserted that Diaspora Jewry has lost a million of its sons and daughters in intermarriage and assimilation in the last two decades. Presently we are losing 60 000 young men and women every year. As we remember the physical Shoah which claimed the lives of six million in the death camps, we state with confidence that Hashem would never permit another Shoah to befall His people. But we were wrong.

The Shoah of “Aisav” lasted six years, and ceased with the Allied victory in Europe, but the Shoah of assimilation through assimilation and intermarriage is gaining in strength every day. From a Jewish population of six million in the United States at the end of the Second World War, 70 years later the number has dwindled to less than five million, and falling at a rate of 65 per cent.

At a normal birthrate the United States Jewish population should be over 30 million.

Throughout the Diaspora (even in “democratic” South Africa) Jewry is doomed, albeit at a slower rate here than in other countries.

It is fatal to deceive ourselves by assuming that Jewish day schools can preserve us; they can only postpone assimilation but not cancel it; they can only delay it, but not prevent it.

The Jewish house in the Diaspora is burning while the inhabitants are asleep. Our leaders, especially the religious ones, are silent. Lay leaders’ reluctance to encourage aliyah is understandable, but tragically many “positive” Jews and certain Chassidic sects, even affirm and justify the exile.

Young Jews in South Africa, and all of the Diaspora, are not thriving in foreign lands. They have not been meant to thrive in exile for the last 67 years. They are meant to follow the Talmudic rule that the precept of living in the Land of Israel is equivalent to the observance of all biblical precepts.

The ship of Diaspora Jewry is sinking, and the spiritual leaders are going around with their ordinary rabbinic ministrations instead of trying to save the passengers. The only way to survive from the present Shoah is to return to Eretz Yisrael, where we can truly thrive in our own land.

 

Golden Acres, Johannesburg

 

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Looking for long lost family in Africa

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I live in the United States, and recently found a letter and postcard that my late mother had shown me many years ago, but we didn’t put two and two together that we had lost family somewhere!

My mother, Anneliese Nossbaum (nee Winterberg), was from Germany. Although she never lived there (she and her parents lived first in Guben, then Bonn), the other Winterbergs lived in a town called Witzenhausen.

My mother was a Holocaust survivor, and several members of her family (including the Winterbergs) were interned or died in camps.

Her grandmother, Hannchen Winterberg (nee Lomnitz), had a brother, B. Lomnitz, who emigrated with his family to Africa before 1900. My mother knew that he lived in Johannesburg. Hannchen had three children:

Siegfried, my mother’s father, perished in Dachau.

Amalie married Moritz Vogel, who escaped to New York after Kristallnacht.

Gerda married Menna (Max) Goldschmidt, and since he was a communist, escaped with him first to what was then Palestine, and later to New York.

I was wondering if anyone knows the Lomnitz family, and how I could be in touch. They could be anywhere now, I know. I’m also writing to Yad Vashem to enquire what is known. I’d be happy to provide more information. – Contact: ivette.maoz@gmail.com

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Disparaging image contributes to stigma about weight

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The article by Mirah Langer, “How COVID-19 lockdown turned eating upside down”, SA Jewish Report, 29 April, was well written, highlighting how people are struggling to maintain a healthy relationship with food and their bodies since the lockdown.

Unfortunately, the original online and print versions were accompanied by an awful image – one that perpetuates weight bias and weight stigma. I was relieved to see that the online image had already been changed by Friday, 30 April, however, the awful image made it to print.

I’m therefore writing this letter to educate those working in media and healthcare about the dangers of using images that depict people in larger bodies in a disparaging way as it contributes to weight bias and stigma. Weight bias is defined as negative, prejudiced attitudes about weight, with overt manifestations of weight stigma and discrimination.

Unfortunately, weight bias and stigma have a psychological and physical impact on health, contributing directly to anxiety, depression, disordered eating behaviours, high blood pressure, high cortisol levels, and systemic inflammation. To the person responsible for changing the image online so quickly, thank you for a job well done! – Gayle Landau, Registered non-diet dietician and certified intuitive eating counsellor, and member of Non-Diet South Africa for healthcare professionals

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Looking for descendants of Lithuanian great-grandfather

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I would be grateful for any information a reader may have as I search for descendants of my great-grandfather, Eliahu Zvi Bloch, a Kohen who lived in Anassisic/Anusshishok, Lithuania, near the Latvian border, from roughly 1820 to 1900.

My grandfather, Elchanon, the son of Eliahu Zvi and his third wife, Sarah Oralowich, who grew up in an orphanage, is the only one of the family who emigrated to the United States. I recall hearing that some of Elchanon’s siblings or half-siblings emigrated to South Africa in the first half of the last century.

I know very little else. I believe the family migrated to Lithuania from Germany around 1750 or 1800, that Eliahu Zvi’s father lived to be 100, and that Eliahu Zvi was 66 years old when my grandfather was born. It’s possible that some family members migrated to Israel, either prior to statehood or after living in South Africa. I would welcome any information, even if marginally related to my family, such as knowledge of life in Anassisic/Anusshishok. I live in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, and can be reached at farrellbloch@aol.com

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