The Jewish Report Editorial

United we stand

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There was undoubtedly a positive shift in our outlook this week. We went from being in the doldrums over Moody’s taking us to the brink of junk status; the news that unemployment has risen; and there being no light at the end of the economic tunnel, to sheer joy. All this in just 80 minutes!
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Nov 07, 2019

But what really happened? Was there really a shift for South Africans? I know that in reality, it was just a national sports team winning a world championship, which is outstanding, but it won’t change our economy. Or did it change our national trajectory?

Disclaimer: before I go any further, I need to make a guilty confession that I did watch the 2019 Rugby World Cup final on Saturday, and I did drive on Shabbos. And, no, I don’t feel great about admitting it.

Another confession is that I’m not the biggest rugby fan. In fact, this was the first rugby World Cup game I have watched this year.

Having said that, I was riveted, and enjoyed every second of the game, shouting for our side and yelling with pleasure at every momentous point scored. It was exhilarating! I was so proud to be a South African living in Johannesburg.

And, I got quite emotional on hearing team captain Siya Kolisi say after the win, “We have so many problems in our country but a team like this, we come from different backgrounds, different races, but we came together with one goal and we wanted to achieve it.”

He went on to say that, as South Africans, “we can achieve anything if we work together as one”. We so needed to hear that! This is true not only for South Africans, but for Jews. It’s hard to make it happen, but when we do work together, we can make the earth move.

After the game, my boys and I went for a drive to enjoy the gees (spirit) out there on the streets. I wanted to share this incredible feeling with as many South Africans as possible.

So, with my hand on the hooter (yes, my teenage son told me I was really embarrassing) and South African flags out the open window, we drove through Johannesburg shouting “Bokke”, etc.

We got a fantastic reaction! People were so happy, and wanted to share it with us and each other. Through my car window, I fist pumped beggars, taxi drivers, and many others. I also did seated dances with so many people in other cars. All the barriers between us came down from the comfort of our cars, and it felt like we were united in joy and pride.

We then parked in the Rosebank shopping precinct and went for a walk. People weren’t quite so open in their sentiments when the metal between us was gone. I guess it wasn’t so easy for us to go up to strangers and pass on the joy, even if they were in Springbok jerseys. There definitely seemed to be a reticence less than an hour after the game was over.

As thrilled as we are about winning, it isn’t easy to discard barriers among strangers in broad daylight. Walking through Rosebank, it was as if nothing had happened.

I know there are places in which people partied until Sunday, but they clearly felt safe and comfortable with those around them. My take home from this is that most South Africans are ecstatic about this win, but we remain shell shocked with all that has and is happening around us. It isn’t easy to let go of our inhibitions, fears, and problems.

Also, it didn’t take long for the naysayers to find fault with this incredible international victory. Race had to be brought into the fray, as did all the other ugly barriers that we put up between us. These folk were determined not to allow us to revel in the joy.

In spite of the ugliness they brought, you and I know that the only way to create the country or community we want is by working together. The Springboks proved this once again.

It’s about putting aside our differences and working together to achieve a goal. First we need the goal, then we must get together and work towards it.

It sounds so easy, but clearly it isn’t.

I know I may sometimes sound like a stuck record in my repeated calls to work together, but it works. Siya Kolisi knows it works. So does Rassie Erasmus.

You just have to look at what’s happening in the Israeli government right now to see how far working at cross purposes gets us. They appear to be heading towards a third election because they can’t seem to work together to form a coalition government.

Yes, they all have their differences, but they all want a peaceful, successful country with good leadership. There seems to be a sense that Netanyahu has had his day, and it’s time for someone new, so why can’t they agree?

Same story! They can’t set aside their differences. Instead they may well land up wasting fortunes in another election.

What does it take to look beyond differences? I saw it briefly while watching the Springboks against the British. I saw it again in the car, driving around Johannesburg. It’s there, we just have to have the courage of our convictions.

I can’t tell you how many people said they wished they could bottle the gees and sense of unity. The truth is, I don't want to bottle it, I want to filter it into our air so that just breathing inspires us to work together. Perhaps that’s the solution.

Shabbat Shalom!


In last week’s newspaper, we erroneously called Yoni Moshe Raichlin, “Moshe” in the story “Tale of two Moses in miracle birth”. We always do our best to avoid errors, but sometimes gremlins find their way into our copy during production. We apologise for any inconvenience!


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