Op-eds

Up to us to ride the storm

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced the latest measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. In stressing the gravity of the situation facing the country, he also rebuked those who, in spite of escalating infection rates, continue to disregard basic safety procedures and thereby endanger themselves and those around them.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Jul 16, 2020

The long-awaited “big storm” had arrived, he said, but we weren’t helpless in the face of it, and could and must do what we could to minimise its impact. This includes wearing a cloth mask covering the nose and mouth whenever leaving home, keeping a safe distance of at least two metres from one another, and washing hands with soap and water or sanitiser. In view of emerging evidence that the virus may also be carried in the air in crowded places, especially those with poor air circulation, the indoor environment of public places must also be improved, including cleaning and sanitising all surfaces.

The president’s cautionary words are largely reflective of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ #InOurHands initiative, aimed at driving home the message that we must be responsible for our own health and safety. As Dr Joanne Abrams reiterates on our Facebook page, health workers will do whatever they can to help, but they need the community to play its part as well.

Throughout this period, the Board has also been carrying out its core work on behalf of the community. Encouraging progress has been made in resolving the problem of University of South Africa exams being set on Shabbat, which this year has been made even more complicated because of the way online learning has had to be introduced.

This week, we also extended condolences on behalf of the community on the untimely passing of Zindzi Mandela, the youngest daughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela. A much loved and respected figure, she devoted her life to serving South Africa, both in the anti-apartheid struggle and in the post-democracy era, including as South African ambassador to Denmark. On the passing of her mother two years ago, Board representatives Wendy Kahn and Charisse Zeifert remember how warmly they were welcomed by her when making a condolence visit to the family home in Soweto.

Staying with the Mandela legacy, this Saturday is Mandela Day, which since its institution, has been used as an occasion to do additional good work on behalf of the needy. The Board in this regard continues to support the outstanding work of the Angel Network through its Food Relief Fund, bringing desperately needed aid to destitute communities in seven provinces.

There is surely no more meaningful way of perpetuating the great work of Nelson Mandela, who perhaps more than anyone else deserves the title of father of our democracy, and who throughout his life devoted himself to furthering the well-being of all of South Africa’s people.

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

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