Op-eds

We’re in this together

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
At the time of writing, we are approaching the end of the first week of lockdown. We can only hope and pray that the radical measures adopted will be successful in safeguarding us from the silent enemy in our midst, but at the same time, we need to be realistic. This is uncharted territory, not just for South Africa, but the entire world. No-one can declare with certainty how this will play out in terms of fighting the disease itself or how our society will cope with the inevitable stresses and strains that this unprecedented crisis has placed on it.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Apr 02, 2020

And yet, the picture isn’t altogether bleak. If there’s one thing that should encourage us now it’s that we are all, quite literally, “in it together”. As a result, we are seeing people across the political, racial, and social spectrum working together for the common good. If history has shown how frustratingly self-destructive humanity can be when pursuing its own selfish interests, it has also demonstrated that when there is unity of purpose, people are capable of showing tremendous resilience, creativity, adaptability and, most importantly, altruism.

Such unity of purpose is evident in the inspiring manner in which our own community, at both individual and communal level, is making an effort to get us through these very difficult times.

We face a dual challenge in this respect. One is obviously to ensure that the basic material needs of all community members are met in this exceptionally tough economic climate. Here, numerous funding initiatives have been launched by the Rambam Trust and other welfare organisations to provide an element of financial support. The other concerns the critical area of mental and emotional health, particularly for those living alone. In this respect, we are blessed in Johannesburg to have organisations like the Chevrah Kadisha provide such outstanding professional services and other volunteer services and hotlines from Hatzolah and ChaiFM. This work is being replicated under the auspices of other equally fine organisations in Cape Town, Durban, and the other centres.

Recognising the need for people to feel connected and to find ways to contribute, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) this week launched #LockdownMensch, a forum for community members to share experiences, describe what they are doing to assist one another, and identify further ways in which they can make a meaningful difference. Another vital area in which the board involved itself this week is President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Solidarity Fund. We encourage our community, wherever possible, to contribute to this important fund, irrespective of whether it’s a large or a small donation so that we can be part of trying to alleviate hardship in our country. For details, see our Facebook site.

Both SAJBD National President Mary Kluk and National Director Wendy Kahn have spoken on several international platforms briefing global Jewry about our community’s response to the pandemic. It’s gratifying to see that our leadership’s decisive action has been widely recognised and praised. Likewise, we believe that Ramaphosa and his government’s firm and decisive leadership has been exemplary at this difficult time. It can’t be emphasised enough that we all have to do our part by strictly complying with the lockdown guidelines.

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

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