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The Jewish Report Editorial

Now for the good news

Published

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Would you believe that those of us working on this newspaper love to bring you good news? We much prefer to bring you news that’s going to make you feel proud of our community and put you in a good mood rather than upsetting or angering you.

It’s never easy bringing you stories that are uncomfortable, that show us to be vulnerable, or show up our scars and blemishes. It’s painful to write about someone who has done wrong. Those are also the most complicated stories to get.

However, we do it because we believe you have the right to know. We believe it’s our responsibility to give you all the information we have (where we can) so that you can ruminate over it and make up your own mind.

We do our best, outside of columns and opinion pieces, not to make decisions for you. We make it our business to bring you the facts and what experts or those in the know have to say about these facts.

We get excited when there’s good news to tell you – or at least information that we believe our community can be proud of and that will make us feel good.

So, it’s a pleasure for us to write about how the Beth Din has made the bold move to call on people who have been abused to come forward and report it to the authorities, including the police.

I do understand that the halacha calls on people to do this, but it’s rare that dayanim stick their necks out and make this call (page 1). Well done to them! Hopefully, it will help in getting monsters behind bars and putting a stop to abuse in our community.

I have to say that I have seen a real shift in how people view sexual or other abuse in our community. I see the way so many rabbis and leaders are taking a stand and modelling to their congregations the kind of attitudes and behaviour we need to adopt when confronting and dealing with monsters.

More good news is that Israel has retained its observer status at the African Union (AU) in spite of the anti-Israel lobbyists and those in government who have been fighting to get the AU to backtrack on its decision (page 5).

I’m not surprised that the chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, was angered by criticism of decisions made at the AU. He censured those who did it, especially those who gathered non-members to push their point.

Mahamat was clear that it was a numbers game – 44 out of 55 member states recognised Israel and had diplomatic ties with it. There were more who had some kind of economic or other relations.

He was clear that giving Israel observer status was the right thing to do. And, he said he hoped it might lead to African countries aiding Israel and the Palestinians in reaching a peaceful settlement. Unlike others we know who say they want to help negotiate peace between the two countries but then denigrate Israel, this seems like a heartfelt aspiration.

It astonishes me that those same South African Israel-haters are such bad losers that they feel the need to skew the truth (read: fake news) because it doesn’t fit their agenda.

Nevertheless, we’re pleased to bring you the truth in our newspaper.

Then there’s good news for Jewish students at Stellenbosch University. Last year, we brought you a story about this university not making allowances for Jewish students who had to write tests and exams on Jewish holidays.

Now, Stellenbosch has changed its policy so that it cannot happen again (page 8). Congrats to the Cape Board of Deputies for following it up and guiding the change!

While this seems like a small issue, it’s a huge issue for those Jewish students in that difficult situation.

It’s also uplifting to see people from our community winning international awards (page 12) and, in some cases, being honoured by the British royals (page 4).

Following that, I cannot help but be proud of the work that Cadena, a Jewish humanitarian relief organisation, did in Malawi following Cyclone Ana that caused havoc there over the past two weeks (page 7).

The cyclone left many missing and others homeless or without electricity and clean water. The South African branch of Cadena did what it could to help supply water and medical support.

Once again, those involved in this organisation are volunteers, and what they do depends on the funds they raise. I know funds are tight in our community as times are tough, but the little bit of money this organisation can raise seems to go a long way to help those in desperate need around the continent.

The truth is that we have so many incredible organisations in our community that help those in need.

I was reading letters from people who had been helped by the Jewish Women’s Benevolent Society, and it warmed my heart. Again, helping to fix a person’s teeth can change a human being’s life. Imagine what a person goes through with endless pain in their mouth or simply the embarrassment of not having teeth. Change that, and you change their world. In among all the incredible things this organisation does, helping individuals like this is wonderful. Kol hakavod!

I know I have said this before, but it warrants repeating. We’re a community of people who care, and step out of our comfort zone to help others. Yes, we argue with each other and often think we know best (when we don’t always) – and I include myself in this.

But the bottom line is that we have an intrinsic desire to help others within and outside our community, and this is a beautiful trait.

Shabbat Shalom

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