Op-eds

Leave my late mother out of it

  • Howard Feldman 2018
It’s not unusual for people to express their dissatisfaction to me about something I wrote, said, did, didn’t do, or should have done. Often, my dead mother is invoked and called as witness to my behaviour. She wouldn’t be angry, they tell me, but she would have been very disappointed. It ends with, “May her memory always be for a blessing.” More often than not, the complainer had never met her – because if they had, they definitely would know better than to say that.
by HOWARD FELDMAN | Feb 06, 2020

A recent action, for which I received this message, was for broadcasting my morning show from Redhill School on its first day of term. Redhill is a non-denominational school that caters for children of all backgrounds and religions. It’s a wonderful institution. A number of Jewish students attend, some of whom came to say hi when they realised that it was ChaiFM that was broadcasting.

A number of points should probably be clarified. These broadcasts come at a cost. They require a significant amount of set up, which includes replicating the studio on site. A secure link needs to be established to studio for broadcast, and links to correspondents around the world also created. Station staff need to be on site from about 05:00 as well as back in studio. It’s a fantastic way to capture and showcase the energy of an environment, but it’s not free. Anyone who wants it needs to pay for it.

Jewish schools are not precluded from doing so. In fact, some of my more enjoyable outside broadcasts have been at King David schools.

Every organisation needs to be responsible for their financial well-being. If broadcasting from a school that although not Jewish has many Jewish students and is able and willing to pay for it, then I’m at a loss as to why this should be a problem. And I’m even certain that, may her memory always be a blessing, my mother would agree with me.

This week, the Community Security Organisation (CSO) launched a fundraising campaign. When I asked Director Jevon Greenblatt if shuls and Jewish organisations paid for its services, he said although it asked for a donation, it couldn’t force them to do so. Unlike an outside broadcast, which is a nice-to-have, the CSO is critical for Jewish installations, tour groups, and schools. It’s simply not an option today not to have security. This places the organisation in a difficult situation, as though it cannot withhold their services, it also has a responsibility to maintain the financial well-being of the organisation.

Economically, South Africans are under pressure. It follows that all organisations are as well. The positive outcomes of this is that more prudent administration is required, and more creative income streams are likely to emerge to ensure their longevity. For ChaiFM, it might be outside broadcasts and for the CSO, it might be setting fees that shuls and their members are required to pay.

What we need to do is see the big picture, and understand what’s important for the community in the long run, rather than focus on the things that we might think my late mother would be disappointed by. May her memory always be for a blessing.

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