The Jewish Report Editorial

The closeness of our community in times of trouble

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Shavuot has been described as a “marriage between G-d and the Jewish people” and it is uncanny how it is specifically around this time that the Jewish community is being reminded of how important we are to one another as a community, and of our “otherness”.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Jun 02, 2017

In the first case, I am referring to how the community has rallied around the family of the young Yeshiva College grade eight boy, Hugo Paluch, who was involved in a freak accident on the playground at school.

And secondly, I refer to the rabid response online and on social media to the story of the anti-Semitic incident involving the King David Victory Park thespians. 

Community pulling together
What happened to Hugo was every parent’s worst fear. They sent their beloved child to school healthy and well, probably studied with him during Generation Sinai, leaving a healthy happy child at school.

Then, shortly thereafter they heard about his horrific accident. Their pain is so very personal and nobody can really imagine just what they are going through. However, their pain is all of our pain, in that he is a Jewish boy, just like our own. 

For many, this incident would challenge their belief, but instead it has created a fervour of prayer for Hugo and mitzvot in his name. The Johannesburg community has joined hands in doing whatever is in their power, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, to help heal this child and support his family.

There are times when people in our community can be hurtful and unkind, but when we stand together in support and love, we do it like no other community. As desperately sad as I feel for this family, I am proud to be a part of this community as I witness this standing together.

By the time of this newspaper going to print on Tuesday (shortly before Shavuot started), Hugo was fighting for his survival. We at the Jewish Report stand by the community in praying for a Shavuot miracle. 

Following last week’s lead about the anti-Semitic incident King David scholars experienced at the theatrical competition, other media picked up on the story.

The hateful anti-Semitic comments that followed the stories online on websites and on Facebook, made the incident itself look tame.

While we were all disturbed by the actual event, the hatred towards Jewish people that initially flowed in those comments, was horrifying.

I know that those people writing comments are trolls and clearly are just ugly hateful people needing an outlet for their venom and Jews, in this instance, were a soft target. I am also aware that people don’t censor their thoughts when they use social media and other online platforms.

However, I am astounded and horrified by the base, threatening and overwhelmingly evil thoughts people have about us. 

I guess we go through our lives interacting with friends and colleagues who are mostly likeminded and, if they are not, they don’t share their hateful thoughts - if aimed at us - with us.

My question is: Is there a rise in anti-Semitism in South Africa? Has it always been like this, but some of us - like me - were blissfully unaware? 

The flipside of this is, once again, that the community rallied together in support of one another. My belief is that we all need to stick together and make sure these anti-Semitic people don’t get away with it and are educated to the facts about the truth of their sentiments. 

What we need to be very clear about, is that we do not stoop to their level. Instead, we must rise above it and deal with it in our integrity and with dignity.

We may not be a comparatively huge community, but we are a powerful one and we all need to be as one against anti-Semitism and any harm that may befall one or more members of our community. We need to do it with dignity and pride. 

Shabbat Shalom!



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