Pesach Writing Competition winners

  • 2b-Letter6
Pesach is relevant to each and every one of us in some way. The SA Jewish Report reached out to our high school readers and asked them to write about how Pesach affects them in South Africa today. It was a competition and here are the two winning articles:
by Martine Bass | Mar 29, 2018

How is the story of Pesach relevant to South Africa today?

As the waves crashed behind him, engulfing battalions of Egyptian chariots and armor – Moshe began to sing.

The Children of Israel joined him – their voices lifted high above their heads, piercing through the clouds and into the Heavens.

Rejoicing their freedom; singing praise unto God.

For thousands of years, stretching back to the very first Passover in ancient Egypt, we have told and re-told the story of Pesach: a reminder of the survival instinct of the Children of Israel and of the Jewish nation.

Yet, the story of an intransigent Pharaoh; Ten Plagues and a burning bush; of the might and strength of God; extends far beyond biblical times.

The Jewish community in South Africa has seen governments and presidents come and go; heroes rise and legacies shaped. We have heard hateful rhetoric negated by long walks to freedom.

Yet, corruption still permeates our government; transparency remains non-existent.

The recent inauguration of our new South African president has allowed for positive sentiment to flourish.

The curtain has slowly begun to close on corruption.

We are witnessing history.

After hundreds of years of Egyptian enslavement, Moshe and the Children of Israel became emancipated by the miraculous intervention of Hashem. The Israelites marched on, traveling forty years through the harsh desert of the Sinai Peninsula, looking ahead to the promise of a new dawn.

In South Africa, we have emerged from a dark period of corruption, and we are on the road to building a better future, one, I hope, that will not take forty years of wandering through presidents to reach a state of good governance.

I hope that the waves crash behind us, engulfing figures of corruption – a new dawn rising for South Africa.

A land of promise.

A land of hope.

Jonathan Kier, 17

King David Linksfield High School– matric

How is Pesach relevant to South Africa today?

Spilling droplets of wine from our cup while we read about the plagues at the Pesach Seder represents that while we celebrate – hence the wine – our freedom from slavery, we should not forget the suffering the Egyptians endured. By removing some of our happiness we are reminded that the world is so much bigger than we are and we should always have empathy for those around us and understand their story.

The world is unfortunately described as the ‘selfie society’. Owing to the advent of social media we have become a ‘me-obsessed’ society that has closed our minds to the struggle and plight of others. We have forgotten how to be empathetic.

This past week on university campuses has been IAW (Israel Apartheid Week). The campaign run by the BDS (especially their use of an image of Anne Frank in a keffiyeh to promote a political agenda) epitomises a lack of understanding of the Holocaust. The counter response by SAUJS on campus was to run a campaign of #DialogueNotDivision, this endeavoured to develop a sense of understanding amongst university students, towards the problem facing a modern Israel. This campaign proved to be most successful.

If South Africans adopt a more sympathetic approach to the controversial land expropriation without compensation discourse, perhaps more meaningful discussion would ensue rather than conflicting racial accusations.

We should take from Pesach the concept that showing compassion is not a sign of weakness, but rather an indication of being human. It is developing the ability to consider that opposing views can be debated; this will allow us to build South Africa and continue to bridge the divide. Only through identifying with one another can we help create a democratic South Africa in which we all can live and thrive.

Benjamin Atie, 17

King David Linksfield High School – matric


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