Anonymous angels build caring culture

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) continues to engage in efforts to alleviate the impact, economic and otherwise, of COVID-19 on the Jewish community and population in general. Now that we have begun a phased lifting of the lockdown, we have posted regular guidance on critical issues relating to the financial relief available, and as always, I urge everyone who has been affected to make full use of this resource.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | May 07, 2020

All South Africans have been hard hit by the lockdown, but some have been more badly affected than others. I was recently contacted by a community member who became aware via a domestic employee of the dire situation of those unable to earn during the lockdown period, and who wanted to help.

I referred this individual (who asked to remain anonymous) to the Angel Network, a social-outreach initiative run by a dedicated group of Jewish women that has been doing extraordinary work over the past few months. As a result of a substantial donation from the individual concerned, the organisation, with logistical assistance from Moishe’s kosher butchery in Fairmount, Johannesburg, has delivered more than 900 food parcels to needy families in Alexandra, with each parcel providing enough for a family of four to live on for two weeks.

The Alexandra project is one of many critical relief efforts that Jewish community members have been involved in since the lockdown was imposed. It’s further representative of countless similar initiatives, great and small, that South Africans across the board have launched in response to the crisis. Among those heading up significant projects are members of the SAJBD Gauteng Council, and some of its work can be read about on its Facebook page.

Much of what is being done is taking place under the Community Action Network (CAN) initiative. This is based on a decentralised, bottom-up approach, in which ad-hoc volunteer associations focusing on emergency poverty relief are put together within existing community structures or networks. Initially implemented in the Western Cape, it has been brought to Gauteng with great success by the Angel Network and Gauteng Together.

The real point of it all, though, is what’s being done, not who is doing it. At this time of unprecedented stress and hardship, we have seen people of all backgrounds throughout the country quietly and almost always anonymously getting on with the job of helping others in need.

If COVID-19 and its inevitably difficult aftermath motivates us to build a culture of doing good deeds and helping those in need, and if South African communities emerge more united as a result, then lasting good will have come out of it.

  • Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM, every Friday from 12:00 to 13:00.

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