The Jewish Report Editorial

A dysfunctional, caring family

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We live in a society where dog eats dog and everyone is out there for themselves. That is, other than the Jewish community. Let me rephrase that: Jewish individuals are out there for themselves and their families, but more and more I realise that, despite that, there is an intrinsic kindness and care for community that I don’t believe exists in any other community.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Mar 03, 2017

We are that kind of community, where we can say terrible things to each other, argue - we do that a lot - because we have such diverse opinions and sometimes not speak to each other for ages, but we will still look after each other. You could say we are a dysfunctional extended family.

There is an African saying that translates into “It takes a village to bring up a child”. In our case it takes a community to look after the community.

And we have phenomenal organisations set up to do just that, to make sure that no Jewish person is left without food, a home, an education, a burial, and the list goes on.

When I heard last week about the community having raised funds to buy a Torah in the name of Daniel Copans who died of a very aggressive cancer just before his 18th birthday, it warmed my heart.

But when I heard how his rabbi and community had rallied behind trying save his life, raising funds to send him to America for treatment, it brought tears to my eyes.

As hundreds of Jewish people followed the brand new “Dan’s Torah” to Chabad Savoy Shul, I was just so proud. It wasn’t that it was a Torah, but rather how the community stands together and gives of itself for its own and others.

In the same week, the Morris Isaacson School - initially created by Morris Isaacson, a South African educational philanthropist - welcomed Isaacson’s grandchild to their school in Soweto, thanking him for what his grandfather did for their community.

They also paid tribute to the late Mendel Kaplan for donating the Centre of Music adjacent to this school. These are just two of so many of South Africa’s philanthropic Jewish people. They weren’t just looking after their own, they were helping those outside of the community who were in need.

I could pay tribute to all the wealthy big-time philanthropists, but that isn't what this is about. It isn’t about the thousands and millions of rands, it is about the giving of time, money and energy for others, that I would like to believe is in our genes.

Some people say that Jewish people make a game of making money. That in itself is their challenge, rather than producing something to sell because it is a necessity.

I don’t mind about that. I don't really care why people make money, but I do care that they take some of that money and give it to people who really need it. If they do that, I salute them.

Whether it is for a child who needs money to get to America for cancer treatment or for a child who needs money to get an education, those people who put their hands in their pockets and give, are good people in my books.

For those people who can’t afford to give much, but still give something to someone in need, they are even more impressive.

I remember the late great Bertie Lubner (who also gave of his time to be on the Jewish Report editorial board before my time) telling me that the joy he gets from giving to someone in need is far greater than anything they would get from him.

This week, I had reason to call Hatzolah when my domestic worker needed an ambulance. I looked to my colleagues and they all said: “Call Hatzolah!” But, I said, she isn’t Jewish.

Hatzolah gently guided the two of us through the process and, within no time, she was in the safe hands of doctors.

This incredible sense of community and will to help others - financially and otherwise - bowls me over.

How I wish that other powerful people in this country could see how gratifying it is to put community first. 


In last week’s edition, we erroneously put a headline onto the story about the King David Victory Park #thinkpink drive – in which they cut their hair to make wigs for people with cancer - that referred to CANSA, when it had nothing to do with that organisation. The organisation behind is The Forever Changed Global Awareness Campaign. Apologies!   


1 Comment

  1. 1 Mariane Te Water 01 Apr
    It is the true life giving Holy Grail to be a beloved part of a loyal tribe, be it amongst very old friends,  and fellow citizens  and long last family,  far or near. Without it one closes down bit by bit, too slowly, head too sad and heavy but still held high , hoping, pleading every day, believing, always loyal salute to God, and after years of relentlessness, softly hoping just to sleep. But it can't ,not yet, one has one more sweet responsibility yet to love another well.So well that to return ,to restore all the sunshine and laughter disappeared from his eyes after the years of being away from the fynbos seawind. Then to swallow the sweet Fynbos  air again, to live again.And to reside at last beneath that oak tree blowing through a strong wind with one's beloved tribe .


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