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Only those on the frontline should be vaccinated

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Letters/Discussion Forums

I read in dismay of doctors, often in private practice who never see a COVID-19-positive patient, who are rushing off with their wives and administration clerks to get to the front of the queue to be vaccinated. I see psychologists and other allied professionals flaunting the fact that they have been vaccinated or elbowing their way to the vaccine table.

While this happens, nearly a million health workers in the public sector who are actually dealing with COVID-19-positive patients in surgery, anaesthetics, intensive-care units, and emergency departments, treating patients with hands-on care, haven’t yet received their vaccinations. These are the frontline workers who are at risk. These are the doctors, nurses, and allied professionals who are dying. They aren’t there for the glory or the large salary but because they are committed to making a difference, to healing, and to contributing to a better world. I urge all of you who aren’t dealing directly with patients who breathe, cough, or spit at you, who can treat patients while maintaining a social distance and wearing masks, not to rush to the front of the queue. Leave the limited supply of vaccines for the real frontline workers. Everyone will get a vaccine. You may have to wait a few more months, but in the meantime, you can take precautions and be safe.

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Looking for descendants of Lithuanian great-grandfather

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I would be grateful for any information a reader may have as I search for descendants of my great-grandfather, Eliahu Zvi Bloch, a Kohen who lived in Anassisic/Anusshishok, Lithuania, near the Latvian border, from roughly 1820 to 1900.

My grandfather, Elchanon, the son of Eliahu Zvi and his third wife, Sarah Oralowich, who grew up in an orphanage, is the only one of the family who emigrated to the United States. I recall hearing that some of Elchanon’s siblings or half-siblings emigrated to South Africa in the first half of the last century.

I know very little else. I believe the family migrated to Lithuania from Germany around 1750 or 1800, that Eliahu Zvi’s father lived to be 100, and that Eliahu Zvi was 66 years old when my grandfather was born. It’s possible that some family members migrated to Israel, either prior to statehood or after living in South Africa. I would welcome any information, even if marginally related to my family, such as knowledge of life in Anassisic/Anusshishok. I live in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, and can be reached at farrellbloch@aol.com

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Protest not a creative solution to education funding crisis

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Regarding your editorial (SA Jewish Report, 19 March 2021), in which you support Gabi Farber and others in protesting against inadequate funding for tertiary education, I agree with you about the importance of education and your sympathy for those who have difficulty financing their aspirations. Furthermore, I commend Farber for all the effort she has put in to explore multiple avenues to assist these students.

The truth as you so clearly state is that South Africa finds itself in a very difficult financial reality for multiple unfortunate reasons. But, confronting this reality requires creative and innovative ideas rather than avoidance with protests, which almost always result in significant vandalism – though I’m certain that was never Farber’s intention. In addition, whenever the government has been intimidated into providing additional funding for students as a result of violent protest, it has almost always been to the disadvantage of other South Africans in greater need.

I don’t deny that there are times when protest is the only option available, but this isn’t such a time. In her op-ed, Farber insists that all alternatives were explored before resorting to protests. However, if thousands of our brightest young people are unable to find creative ways out of their present difficulty, it’s unlikely South Africa will ever extricate itself from its present quagmire.

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Israel Centre endeavours to assist gap-year applicants

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In regard to the article, “Student barred from gap year speaks out’” (SA Jewish Report, 12 March 2021), we would like to clarify that the Israel Centre wasn’t involved in this application process.

We are sorry for the negative experience that Demi Putziger has had with the organisers of this gap-year programme.

This particular programme handles its own applications. We have been in contact with the organisers, and they have assured us that in future, applicants will be made aware of their specific programme-entrance criteria at the onset of the process.

The Israel Centre offers a variety of gap-year programmes and Livnat Katz, our Masa Israel Journey representative, endeavours to assist all applicants and explain the various gap-year opportunities available. We urge all school leavers and students to contact the Israel Centre and Katz in particular to explore their options.

Masa Israel Journey is the global leader in immersive experiences for young diaspora Jews, lasting four to 12 months for ages between 18-30. Whether it be programmes involving Jewish studies, academic studies, career development, touring, volunteering, and much more, Masa offers countless opportunities in Israel.

Automatic grants are available for programmes, and candidates that fall under Israel’s Law of Return (like Demi) are eligible for a Masa grant.

Each Masa programme has different acceptance criteria, which we explain to each potential participant.

Our goal is to help anyone who wishes to go to Israel, and to find the right programme suitable for them.

Demi is welcome to contact us for further assistance. We sincerely hope this clarifies any misunderstandings.

The Israel Centre remains committed to strengthening the connection between the South African Jewish community and Israel.

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