There’s much to be grateful for

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This past week, I’ve heard of people I know fairly well whose companies have gone into liquidation, have had to put their homes up for sale, and in one case, almost died waiting for an ambulance.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Jul 09, 2020

These are good, hard-working, highly intelligent, accomplished people who aren’t part of our community.

Thanks to the coronavirus, the first two have fallen on devastatingly hard times because of the lockdown and the latter had a stroke, possibly due to the stress of trying to make ends meet.

Those who had to sell their homes and liquidate their businesses did their level best to find ways to solve their problems. Initially the banks helped a bit, but that help has since dried up. They were left with no choice.

In the case of the person who got sick, all the ambulances were too busy dealing with COVID-19 cases and he had to wait for hours. He’s lucky to be alive.

None of these people have the kinds of organisations on speed dial that we do. They don’t have the incredible infrastructure that we have in our community that looks after its own.

Now, I’m well aware of the kind of outreach and outstanding work that members of our community do for the greater South African society, and I salute every single one of them. This is so important for us to do and continue doing.

However, my point is how easy it is to forget what we have put in place for ourselves and how lucky we are to have Hatzolah, the Gesher Fund, the Chevrah Kadisha, Community Security Organisation, and the Rambam Trust among others to help us weather any storm that comes our way. The ticket to being able to request their help is simply to be Jewish.

That’s not to say that there aren’t people and problems that fall through the cracks. It happens, and it will continue to happen. The truth is that these organisations can only stretch so far.

But the work they do is phenomenal, and so often we overlook what we have. I hear so many of us complain bitterly about our situation. It’s only when you hear stories about people who aren’t part of our community that you realise just how fortunate we are. Is it a gift when we look after our own? I guess it’s the greatest gift of all – a gift from the community to the community to keep us alive, well, and make sure that we have a roof over our heads and remain economically sound.

When you read our front page story about what Hatzolah is doing for the many in our community who have contracted COVID-19, you realise how essential it is to us, and how grateful we should be for all that it does.

I cannot but marvel at the sheer guts, selflessness, dedication, and professionalism that the men and women of Hatzolah exemplify. They are true angels, keeping us all alive.

Then you look at an organisation like the Chev that is also dedicated to saving the lives of those who simply can’t look after themselves. The tireless work done by the Chev is astonishing. And, while it’s true there have been two deaths this week in old-age homes run by the Chev, it’s a miracle that in the peak of this pandemic, there have been only two. Around the world, old aged homes are tinder boxes when it comes to coronavirus. If one person tests positive, the illness spreads like wildfire, and has been known to decimate residents.

So far, this hasn’t happened here because of the kind of dedicated care you find at these homes. So, while people will complain simply because they can, we need to remember to count our lucky stars for the people who do so much for us.

The Gesher Fund and Rambam Trust are literally sustaining businesses and people to enable them to keep going at a time that they aren’t able to.

I’m so grateful when I hear the stories of people rescued by our communal organisations. These institutions are kept afloat by people within the community who can afford to help financially and those who don’t have that much, but realise the importance of keeping these organisations going.

Right now, many of our communal organisations are battling to survive as there’s a far greater need for help than money going around. You know when the Chev asks for donations – something it simply didn’t need to do for its first 132 years – we need to do something.

I know that for many there is no extra money to go around at the moment because we have had to tighten our belts, but if you can help, you should.

You see, these organisations can only survive if we make sure that they do.

And in that is yet another item on my gratitude list: the fact that our community does support these organisations. So many of us do dig deep to make sure that communal structures remain in place. We are naturally charitable, and generally we don’t have to be asked to offer to help.

As we sit in our homes – or at least I hope that’s what we’re all doing – at the height of the pandemic, we have a great deal to be thankful for.

However, as has become obvious, our community isn’t weathering COVID-19 so well anymore. We have been hard hit, and so many people we know are ill.

Still, there are people who don’t take the coronavirus seriously. There are those saying this is just another flu bug. It isn’t.

Even those who have had this virus lightly have been knocked by it. It’s not a joke or something to be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s serious, and we can’t carry on as normal. We have to take care of ourselves and, by doing that, take care of others.

It’s simple! Stay home, keep social distance, and keep your mask on. That’s the only way to save lives and stay healthy.

Shabbat Shalom!

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