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The Jewish Report Editorial

Live your best life

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In one week, Israel recalled the Israel ambassador to South Africa and the South African government declared it was bringing home its diplomatic staff from Israel, effectively shutting down our embassy there. Then, the South African government voted to close the Israeli embassy here until what amounts to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

All this is a massive upheaval for the South African Jewish community. It’s probably the most historic and devastating thing to happen in as far back as I can remember.

How will it affect us? I cannot exactly say. Will it have any impact on us? Again, I don’t know. What does it mean about our future here? No idea whatsoever. There are so many questions and no answers. Time will tell.

Have we any idea what will happen tomorrow? Next year this time? No. Sure, we can guess. We can spend our nights worrying about it. We can stress about it until our hair falls out. But we don’t actually know what will happen.

Consider this, if I told you two months ago that Hamas was going to infiltrate Israel one Saturday morning and murder, maim, and rape thousands of people, you would have told me that I was bonkers. As we’ve always said, people in Israel are so much safer than we are here, and things like that don’t happen there. In fact, I would have sworn that Israel’s security was way too tight for that to happen there. Yet 7 October came, and we’re still reeling from the horror of it.

If I had told you five years ago that we would be forced into our homes for close to two years because of a virus, again, you would have told me I was certifiable. But then, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic happened, and we went into lockdown, living out a reality that even looking back seems absurd and unreal. Nevertheless, we were home bound and forced to buy only essentials. So much of that time was unimaginable in advance, but it happened and mostly, we survived it.

Perhaps you would have told me that I was overreacting if I had warned of Israel recalling the ambassador or the South African government closing down the embassy in Israel. Perhaps not, but I would have said it was ridiculous because surely the South African government would be smarter than that as it could only lose from such an action? However, that’s exactly what our government has chosen to do. It isn’t a reality yet as it must still be rubberstamped by the president. Will he do what he can to prevent it from going through? Will he just do as he’s told, and sign it and move on as if it means nothing? Again, I can guess, but cannot be certain about what he will do.

If I told you that we would be facing the kind of antisemitism around the world that we’re facing right now, you would have told me, “Never again!” but this ugly face of racism doesn’t care about “never again”. It rears its ugly head whenever and wherever. Was this Jew-hatred always there but hidden or covered up? Did Hamas’ terrorism give antisemites carte blanche to show their true colours? Again, I have no idea and I could drive myself mad trying to work it out. I could dive into some serious research to uncover the truth behind it. Or I could let it go, and live the best life I can.

The point I’m making in all of this isn’t that we should expect the worst, to the contrary. I believe that because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, we need to live each day to the fullest and prepare for the best.

What’s the point of stressing? What’s the point of driving yourself mad with worry? Why bother trying to foresee every eventuality when, in fact, you’re wasting time by not living your life.

We’re coming up to the end-of-year holidays when most companies close for the summer. It’s time to take a holiday. It’s time to unwind and “chillax” for a few weeks to be rejuvenated for 2024.

Now, you may well be wondering, if you go down to Cape Town, will there be problems with antisemitism? Will you be safe? What if our haters go to places that Jewish people go to for their holiday and do something? What if?

We don’t know. The most likely scenario is that the holidays will pass smoothly and happily, and any fears will have been wasted.

Some parents may be worrying about sending their children to the various machanot. I hear you. You’re worried about their safety. Can I say that everyone in the community responsible for security will be safeguarding our children there? It’s a fact. They will be safer there than anywhere. They will certainly be far safer there than on the beach in Plettenberg Bay or Umhlanga Rocks. Or in Cape Town nightspots.

So, are you going to spoil their fun and stop them from going to camp because you’ll feel safer having them with you? That feels a lot like proverbially cutting of their nose to spite your face.

It’s like saying you’re going to hang out inside your home the whole summer holiday, giving up your magnificent coastal holiday, because it will be safer that way. Really?

The point is, don’t wait to live your best life. You never know what’s around the corner, and you don’t want to have any regrets. You certainly don’t want your children to carry regrets because you curtailed their machaneh fun in the sun.

Make the plans you dreamed of having this holiday, and go ahead and enjoy them. We don’t know what next year will bring, but a good holiday between now and then will set us up to deal with whatever comes our way.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peta Krost


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