Op-eds

Banding together to stay ahead of the curve

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
The unprecedented events of the past few weeks have turned the world as we know it upside down. To get through these difficult and stressful times, we will all need to be resilient, patient, flexible, and, where necessary, innovative. Above all, we must be united. Coronavirus affects everyone, and to minimise its impact on our country, everyone needs to work together, co-operate, and wherever possible, help one another.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Mar 19, 2020

As the representative umbrella body of South African Jewry, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies has been working closely with all community organisations to develop strategies to counteract the Covid-19 threat. To that end, last Thursday, we co-ordinated a meeting of the national leadership of major communal bodies around the country together with Professor Barry Schoub, the founding former director of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases, and Dr Richard Friedland, the chief executive of Netcare.

Schoub and Friedland are both experts in the field of communicable diseases, and all decisions were taken following extensive consultation with them. The recommendations agreed on are preventative measures to minimise the spread of the virus. Sectorial clusters dealing with specific areas, namely welfare, education, and religion were created, with each cluster defining guidelines in their particular areas. Ongoing engagement is taking place as the situation develops.

In view of the inevitable rumours, red herrings, and misinformation that is doing the rounds, it is a priority to establish channels of communication that allow easy access to reliable sources of information. One of the results of the meeting was to set up a Covid-19 Jewish community platform to inform and engage the community in the days to come. This interactive platform provides regular updates, with Schoub addressing issues of concern.

A series of nine “facts not fear” podcasts presented by Schoub has been uploaded, people can send questions to him on the platform, and you can also receive regular updates and recommended guidelines on our Facebook page. The guidelines will be constantly reviewed and adapted to take into account changing circumstances. We urge all community members to regularly refer to this site, either by signing on to our Facebook site, or going to our website (www.sajbd.org).

The extent of the impact of the coronavirus on this country and community ultimately hinges on how individual members conduct themselves in the weeks to come. As Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein has emphasised, the important thing is that each of us take personal responsibility to create the safest environment for all. What has been most inspiring is the level of co-operation and co-ordination between all our communal organisations. In this time of crisis, we have really banded together to ensure that our community remains ahead of the curve.

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

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