The Jewish Report Editorial

We are all in this together

  • Peta low
Just getting food to eat during lockdown has become a massive motion picture. Nothing is simple right now, except perhaps our ride to work – from the bedroom to the study or dining room.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Apr 02, 2020

Who would have thought one month ago that our reality would have changed so drastically?

I remember marvelling at the experience of South African expat Adam Wolov being in lockdown in Wuhan, and thinking how his whole life has been put on hold and effectively shoved into a tiny flat.

Now we are living that life, only some of us have a garden and bit more space in our homes. And the government says it’s for 21 days, but few of us expect it to end there and to resume our lives as we know them.

We are still in the early phase of this pandemic in South Africa. There is an expectation from doctors who have spoken to this newspaper that the numbers of people contracting the coronavirus is going to skyrocket before we can really get it to settle down. But even that is supposition. There are some experts who say life as we know it will start to become a reality again only at the beginning of September.

I’m no expert. I can only say we’re in this with you, and will keep bringing you the kinds of stories you want and need to read.

I’m meant to be an expert at editing a newspaper, but can I tell you that this week, even that was tested. Trying to put a 52-page Pesach edition together with all of our team in their own homes was a challenge of note.

Everything that we have come to expect to happen in the process was thrown upside down. But, I have the utmost respect for the SA Jewish Report team because they worked long and hard hours – trying their best to keep their cool – to get this newspaper to you. Simple things like being able to check a page becomes a test.

But then, all of us are being challenged in everything we do. Those of us who work in travel, entertainment, and the retail industries, to name just a few, are at home trying to figure out how they are going to pay school fees, their bond, and even put bread on the table. A month ago, they were fine.

Small decisions have become big ones, like whether you buy everything you might need in terms of groceries for a month just in case there won’t be any next week. Then you find you don’t have enough space in your freezer for the amount of meat you bought. And what of toilet paper and sanitisers?

Yes, I joke about this, and perhaps there is little to laugh at because we are talking about a dire life-and-death situation.

However, our community is like that. We laugh at ourselves and at the situation because it’s the only way to get through such a tough time.

Some of the memes and jokes I have seen over the past few weeks have kept me afloat when I was stressing about things like how I was going to ensure that my youngest son kept up with his lessons remotely. The truth is, he isn’t, and I need to stop stressing about it.

We can only do what we can do. And right now, for many of us, that isn’t much. On the flipside, I’m astonished at the innovation I’m witnessing.

People who had simchas (celebrations) scheduled and had to give up their dream function, made an alternative plan. Zoom parties have become a hit. Dance, yoga, and karate classes on Zoom abound so you can keep fit at home.

Our own SA Jewish Report board has created the most incredible webinars to keep the community in the know about all sorts of fascinating topics or laughing in the aisles (depending on which night).

I guess one of the biggest challenges for us all is how we are going to make Pesach feel special when we are all separated. I usually go to one seder at one of my siblings and spend the other night at another sibling. They are always incredible events that we look forward to. This year, our little family is on our own, and we are going to need to find a way of making Pesach special for us.

The incredible thing about this is that we aren’t alone. We are all in the same boat, having to turn this time of the year – which is all about togetherness and bonding – into something special. One thing is for sure, we are never going to forget Pesach 2020.

It has been interesting how some stories that would typically be perfect reading for this Pesach edition really weren’t appropriate. What was appropriate was to look at how we could help you through this time on all levels as well as offer up-to-date news.

We wanted to highlight our heroes, who risk their own lives to help keep us alive. We also wanted to show you some of the unique people who have turned this dire time into a way of helping others.

We asked a few people about their experiences in lockdown, and others about what they plan to do over Pesach in the United States, Israel, and Australia. It’s evident that around the world, we are in this together.

At the same time, this is an extraordinary bonding time for families. It’s also a time to dig deep, to find a way to cope and survive this. It’s a time in which we do things differently. Who knows, you may find that different works better.

The SA Jewish Report team and I wish you all a chag Pesach sameach!

Don’t forget

We won’t be publishing for the next two weeks because of Pesach, but we will be back on 24 April.

This week’s SA Jewish Report will still be available at your food retail outlets on Friday (not Thursday). Please check our website, sajr.co.za, in the top right-hand corner, to find which outlets will have it. If you aren’t able to get there, you will always be able to download a digital copy from our site.

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