Legacies we inherit and leave our children
“Are children our legacy?” is a rather philosophical/rhetorical question posed by well-known radio personality and blogger, David Batzofin.
At a United Zionist Luncheon Club meeting recently, he juxtaposed the legacy he inherited from his parents, and they from their parents before them, and a visit to a white squatter camp the other side of Pretoria, where people were “invisible” – to what they call “outsiders” – those preferring not to see them.
“I come from a generation that brought up their children in a certain fashion. My dad left school after standard six, but for ages I never knew this. He had the same job for 36 years. For my barmitzvah he gave me a bicycle – but shortly afterwards he sold it.
“He lived by a certain set of ethics which he passed on to me – neither a borrower nor a lender be.
“We always had shoes on our feet, bread on the table and a roof over our heads. I lived by his ethics. I have a daughter in Cape Town who lives by the ethics I have passed on to her.”
He asked: “How do we stop our children doing the same and do we want to? Is that a legacy? Or are we all wired internally and genetically? This is how things are always done?”
He told the story of a mother who always broke the legs of a chicken before she cooked it. When asked why, she replied that her own mother had always done that. When the granny was asked why she had always broken the legs of a chicken before cooking it, she replied that her pot was small so she had to do that.
Batzofin spoke how, after 1948 and the arrival of the National Party apartheid government, people still voted for them. When asked why, the reply: “Better the devil you know…”
He told of an interview he did with internationally acclaimed playwright Athol Fugard. When Fugard’s anti-government play “Sizwe Banzi is Dead” opened, Batzofin’s parents would not allow him to go to the first night as the “political police” (the feared Special Branch) would be there taking names and photos.
Years later, when he was with Fugard, he asked him why he had left South Africa. Fugard replied that he wanted to earn money so that he could go fishing!
Batzofin said that Fugard’s legacy should be a statue – but there is none (because he ran)!
Then Batzofin switched tack: “I was at a white squatter camp outside Pretoria.
“White squatter camp? Indeed! There are a few thousand Afrikaners living in squatter camps around South Africa today, with several near Pretoria. I spoke to many of the people living in this camp, which does not even have a name. It is simply Plot 111.
“We conversed in English, Afrikaans and a mixture of both. They all wanted to share their stories and spoke freely, except one woman who had suffered from alcohol abuse and did not want her children to know her whereabouts. This was her legacy to them?
“Many of the people there had suffered from some form of abuse – physical, sexual, alcohol, bullying and more.
“None of the children in the camps had had any sort of education. What would the legacy left to them by their parents be? What legacy would they in turn leave? There was a 12-year-old boy who lived in a chicken coop.
“These squatter camp residents spoke of ‘outsiders’ – those people for whom the squatters camp inhabitants were invisible.
“Compare these people, especially children, and especially those who are lucky enough to know their grandparents and can share their legacies. We are leaving these people behind – an outsider group as I said, ‘invisible’.”
Batzofin said this visit had been “one of the best things I have ever done. I am humbled.”
He is writing a book “about them, for them”. It was the toughest thing he ever had to do. “It will be a positive story and also a legacy to them and for them.
“We are all children and grandchildren who have received legacies and who will in turn leave legacies for our children and grandchildren down the generations.”
Shabbat Around The World beams out from Jozi
More than 75 devices around the globe logged in to Beit Luria’s World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) Shabbat Around the World programme on Friday, 15 January.
Whether it was breakfast time in California, tea time in Europe, or time to break challah in Johannesburg, participants logged in to take part in Beit Luria’s Kabbalat Shabbat service.
Among those participating were Rabbi Sergio Bergman, the president of the WUPJ; chairperson Carole Sterling; and Rabbi Nathan Alfred, the head of international relations. Singers Tulla Eckhart and Brian Joffe performed songs from a global array of artists, along with Toto’s Africa to add a little local flair to the service. After kiddish was said and bread was broken, Rabbi Bergman thanked Beit Luria for hosting the WUPJ. The shul looks forward to more collaborations with its global friends in the future.
UJW Sewing School graduates model creations
The outfits modelled by graduates of the Union of Jewish Women’s (UJW’s) Sewing School were all the more spectacular for the fact that some of their creators had never seen a sewing machine prior to the four-month course.
They were modelled at the school’s graduation ceremony at Oxford Shul on 15 December to much excitement and applause.
UJW executive member and Sewing School Manager Ariane Heneck expressed her gratitude to Chido Tsodzo, the school’s superb teacher, and the event ended with a much appreciated lunch for graduates and their invited guests.
The self-empowerment Sewing School for unemployed men and women was started by the UJW 10 years ago. It now has a small production team of ex-students, and some of its graduates have been employed in factories, while others are selling their own creations.
Israel Rugby 7s to camp with the Blitzbokke
The thrill-a-minute Rugby 7s have captured the hearts of fans around the world. The Blitzbokke, South Africa’s national Rugby 7s team, ranks second in the world, and is among the most exciting, formidable, and feared of 7s teams.
Exactly 9 191 km away are the Israelis, an emerging rugby nation that has talent, determination, and a world-class coach in South African Kevin Musikanth. Now, these two squads will meet. The Israeli 7s side will be travelling to the SAS Rugby Academy in Stellenbosch to train with the Blitzbokke.
The Blitzbokke will have the opportunity to prepare for the coming 7s rugby season by measuring their skills of play against the Israelis. And the Israelis, well, they will be rubbing shoulders with, and learning from the best in the world and honing their skills for their coming European Rugby season.
“It’s an opportunity for our boys to learn from the world’s best,” says Musikanth. The SAS Rugby Academy is run by the legendary Frankie Horn, a technical expert whose coaching guidelines and methods are second to none in World Rugby 7s.
Musikanth took over as Rugby 15s head coach in Israel in 2018, and in October 2019, he became director of rugby for the Israeli Rugby Union and head coach for the national programmes of both the 15s and the 7s.
Horn visited Israel last December at the behest of Rugby Israel and its supporting Olympic body and since then, the partnership has continued to grow. The upcoming training camp will begin in Israel, where Horn, together with Phil Snyman, the former Blitzbok captain and multiple world champion winner, will spend a week with the players and coaching staff at Wingate, Netanya, the home base of Rugby Israel. They will then all travel to Stellenbosch for a week’s camp with the Blitzbokke.
“We’ve already seen the difference through our partnership with Frankie. Two of our players were spotted by him on his previous trip to Israel, and have been training at SAS on the off-season,” says Musikanth. The two players are Omer Levinson (scrum half) and Yotam Shulman (lock).
Horn, technical advisor to Rugby Israel’s 7s, says “It is a great opportunity for both teams to derive positive benefit from the camp.”
Israel Rugby has been making considerable professional strides since Musikanth took over the reins. Israel 15s played their 100th test match against Cyprus and celebrated with a 34-22 victory.
“We’re in the top 25 in Europe in 15s and in the top 16 in 7s, the toughest, most competitive continent in world rugby,” says Musikanth, “and I can realistically see us setting our sights on the Top 15 and Top 12 respectively in the future.”
Currently, there are three eligible South Africans who are on the Israeli national squad: Jayson Ferera as flanker (Pirates Rugby Club), Daniel Stein as fly half (studying in Israel), and Jared Sichel as prop (Hamilton’s Rugby Club, Cape Town). Eligibility to play for a national team in rugby is stricter than in other sports. One does not qualify just because one has a passport. One has to have had a parent or grandparent that was born in that country or one has to have lived in the country for at least three years.
“With so much Jewish rugby talent around the world, we would be able to put a world-class Israeli national team together if not for the measures that restrict eligibility to national call ups,” says Musikanth.
The Israel Rugby development project was accelerated thanks to Musikanth initiating Bridges through Rugby. This project is the collective effort of a few South African Jewish businessmen who appreciate the long-term vision of Israel becoming a stronger rugby nation. They have come on board to assist with this most opportune tour. National financial support is fixed and, as such, is limited. While the strong players and national coaches will be attending the training camp in Stellenbosch, there will be some that will, unfortunately, have to stay behind.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players and coaches. To get to see the best upfront and feed off their knowledge is going to be incredible,” says Musikanth. “Everyone is eager to go, of course, but there is a cap to the support we have in place. We would like to take a development u20 squad as well as coaching staff who would carry the benefits of this into the future. A rugby visit to Stellenbosch can change rugby lives in many respects. Stellenbosch is rugby utopia!”
Rugby aside, with the Israelis and South Africans camping together, the question of what will be for dinner after a gruelling day’s training may be a matter of contention. A tussle for whether to serve boerewors or shwarma may result in a scrum in the SAS dining hall to determine the outcome.
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