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Knowledge the best weapon to fight prejudice on campus



Letters/Discussion Forums

It saddened me to read Shimshon Fisher’s article about his negative experience of being a Jew on the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).

It’s eye-opening to venture out of the Jewish bubble at a mere 18 years old, and then meet new “Muslim friends” who intimidate you.

Without knowing the intricacies of the situation, I would offer that in a similar situation in which a group of “Muslim friends” hiss, “You’re not a Zionist, are you?” an option would be to pose another question, “What’s a Zionist?” Clarify what being a Zionist means to them, and to you.

If being a Zionist means that the Jewish people have a right to their historic homeland where Judaism is practiced, then one can also point out the many countries where Islam isn’t only the practiced religion of the majority, but also the official religion of government. The key is to be as knowledgeable as possible.

I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the article about the “infamous campus rabble rouser and Fees Must Fall student activist Mcebo Dlamini”. From firing vitriol against the Jewish community and stubbornly not apologising, he has made a turnaround.

Dlamini visited the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre, where he “was introduced to the horrors of the Holocaust”. Before this, he couldn’t comprehend how offensive his remarks were. That’s why education is so important.

According to Dlamini, “There’s a dominant pro-Palestinian narrative, which I realise is biased and one-sided.” He now understands it’s a highly complicated issue. Perhaps Dlamini would engage with fellow students at Wits to educate them on the complexities of the conflict? Maybe then, Jewish students wouldn’t have their “friends” hiss at them, asking if they’re Zionists.

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Seeking any information about missing father



I’m looking for information about my father, who may have emigrated to South Africa in the early 1960s. His name was Victor Vinegrad, and he had British citizenship. He would have been in his forties when he emigrated from Britain. He would be 101 today, if alive. Any help you can give me about his life or death would be greatly appreciated.

My father disappeared in Australia in 1952, leaving my mother with two small children. She was forced to fend for herself and to return to the United Kingdom. Searches for Victor yielded nothing. Sometime in the late 1980s, she met a man who said he had seen Victor in London in 1960 or thereabouts. He confided to him that he was going to emigrate to South Africa. My mother, at 98 years old, is still an Agunah. It would be a blessing if she could be freed before she dies. It would also help me if I could find out what happened to my father. Email:

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Price of kosher meat comes down to production costs



Rather than being a stiff-necked people who complain a lot, it’s better to be a “light unto the nations” and glow with goodwill. Unfortunately, holding on to faribles (resentments) is more common in the South African Jewish community than it is elsewhere. This includes petty grudges.

Not only does it make us unhappy and result in people avoiding us, it’s contrary to our religion. The Torah says, “Do not bear a grudge.”

Unfortunately, there are extra costs involved in producing kosher food, especially meat. Some might be tempted to be suspicious about them.

Many kosher butcheries have closed down over the years, with Nussbaums being the latest casualty. If they were so lucrative, that wouldn’t be the case.

It’s true that many have left the country, reducing the demand, but many have also become kosher, increasing the demand.

South African Jewry has the highest proportion of ba’alei teshuva (newly religious people) in the world. By far. What was once a secular community has become a strong centre of Torah. Our community is respected internationally for this, whether Chabad, haredi, or modern Orthodox.

In the early 1970s there were only five shomrei Shabbos families in Glenhazel, and that included rabbis. My father reports that 60 years ago, there was no such thing as someone wearing a yarmulka.

Along with this revival, there has been a huge increase in the availability of kosher foods such as cereals, biscuits, canned food, and so on, making it much easier to eat in accordance with the traditional ways. Since they are mass produced, the prices are low. Nevertheless, it’s admirable that so many are prepared to pay the extra costs of buying kosher meat, especially those who are struggling financially.

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Loss can teach us how to live



My name is Lisa. I work as a child and adult psychologist in our community.

It’s been almost eight years since my husband and child passed away. I survived the car accident, but they didn’t. My broken bones healed, but my broken heart has been the biggest challenge to live with. Last year, my beloved father passed away. Like you, I’m no stranger to loss.

I see our community reeling from loss upon loss. I see how frightened many are as the distance between death and life has closed or narrowed for so many.

I have learned as a psychologist and survivor that death is as much a part of life as breath. I have learned that pain is a natural response to death, and that in life, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. I understand that “suffering is what our mind does to us”. (David Kessler).

David Kessler is an American grief expert. He has repeatedly been called upon to help the nation understand the psychological impact of COVID-19 and the loss on all levels it leaves in its wake. Kessler’s latest book is titled, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. It’s our destiny to make meaning, to learn from life. As I sit with parents and children in loss and hold my own, this is some of what I have come to understand:

  • Enjoy your children;
  • Enjoy your life; and
  • Teach yourselves how to take control of your mind.

As a parent, I remember how busy life can be. We take care of our children’s physical needs. We provide, feed, clothe, educate, and stimulate them, but do we make enough time to enjoy them? To join a child in play is remarkable. Here we are able to delight in the joy they bring to our world. How precious they are, and how precious it is to be alive!

The more we are present in our lives, the less we fear death.

Now, I take the time to turn inward, to be still on a regular basis and ask: what gives my life meaning? Then I prioritise it.

When you are deeply engaged in life, there isn’t too much space for fear and suffering. The pain will be there, but the living will be larger. In this way, we, too, reduce our suffering. My prayer is simple: may we have the capacity to allow loss to teach us all how to live a more meaningful life.

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