It takes a Village to raise a child - the Dangers of Poor Accessory choices –

by Jewish Report | Aug 11, 2014

Howard Feldman

The funny thing is that I never took my late grandmother seriously when she told us that the right accessory could make or break an outfit. If she were alive today to see the furor over a poorly chosen scarf, she would have given us the biggest “I told you so” look of all time. Of course she would have also given the 17 year old child a sharp smack to the back of his head and sent him to his room to think about what he has done, but that’s another issue completely.


I would rather focus on accessories – because they are clearly a lot more relevant than I for one had realized. In fact I will bet that every Grade 11 student at Jewish Day Schools across South Africa, is rummaging through his cupboards as we speak, it being clear that not to eliminate certain items, could cause, at best, future leadership opportunity to be jeopardized, and at worst public demonization.


But this is where I need clarity – what makes one scarf badly designed and garish, offensive only for its ugliness, and another offensive for its message and all it conveys?  We all know what makes a Mezuzah kosher (some of our re-sellers also now have this knowledge), but I really think we need to understand the Palestinian fashion world better.


So I Googled “Palestinian accessories” and was blown away (if you will excuse the expression) by the choices available. Would you believe that there is a full range of options in scarf-wear (some of which may be purchased at Urban Outfitters in the USA for USD20 per item) and some very pleasant full length dresses in this design if one likes that sort of thing? I personally don’t love how they have combined the red and green and written “Palestine” all over them, but for the SA debating team this appears not to have been a concern.  


What is clear to me, given this whole unfortunate mess, is that we have sent a clear message to the anti-us people. We have given them the blueprint as to how to cause us the most pain. It is not to attack and vilify us, it is not to boycott and disseminate untruths and it is not turn the UN and the world against us. It is simply to turn one of our own against his people. We seem to be able to deal with anything at all, but not with other Jews selling us short.  When we have a magnificent gathering of 12,000 Israel supporters representing all races, the local news leads with the focus on 12 sad and rejected “Jews” standing outside protesting her actions.


And it hurts. It hurts us when Josh Someone, a child, rejects us his family. It hurts us as if he were our own. We get angry and we demand better, as we would from any of our own children. He clearly has great potential and we want to be proud of him, we want to share in his success. We do not want to feel ashamed and saddened by his actions as we do now.


And I feel for him and his family. Because with all the bluster and the defense and the so-called support, and however it is debated and explained, I would certainly not want to be remembered for this act. No one wants to be Goldstone and all he has come to represent. But we need to remember that he is a child, and children do stupid things (as do we all). He needs to deal with the consequences, as the school sees fit, he needs to be sent to his room to consider the pain he has caused, and then when he comes out, we need to give him a hug and be told that we still love him.


Let’s cut him some slack, lets not remember his name and let’s give him another chance. We need to not push him and his family into a corner that forces them to defend this poor choice and let’s hope that next time he goes out, he will think carefully as to how he accessorises. Let’s help him make my grandmother proud.


  1. 16 Joan Struck 11 Aug
    What ever you say, I for one will never forget his name.
    it will follow him the rest of his life. People will give that knowing look and say to him, " oh, I know who you are" even when he is 120. You don't turn on your people in the middle of a war. We need Israel!!! Jews particularly need Israel at this time when rampant anti semitism has raised its ugly head and the government is on the antisemitic side. Let him go and join the ANC and befriend Jesse Durate.
  2. 15 Ilana 11 Aug
    As always, the humour is sly and keeps the grin on the face, but also as always, there is a plea for us to stop shouting and think ... if that isn't vital today I don't know what is. Thanks again, HF!
  3. 14 Akiva 11 Aug
    I could not agree more. The last thing we need as a community is to speak loshen hora about one another. Especially in the month of Av with all that is symbolises. 

    Lets just hope that it was an accident and not something with a real anti-Israel meaning. 
  4. 13 Vince Jearey 11 Aug
    Yes sir, your Grandmother was right!
    Our Generation grew up with smacks across the head and we did'nt turn out to badly.
    G-D Bless Israel.
  5. 12 Dean 11 Aug
    I'm in favour. Kids do indeed do stupid things and he needs to be forgiven if that is what he actually desires.
  6. 11 estell 11 Aug
    Shouldn't you ask this YOUNG MAN with all his leadership qualities and talents if he wants another chance?   If yes he should make it public. I would like to believe a boy of this age gave some thought to his actions.
    Here in Israel boys of his age are preparing to go into the army and are looked upon as adults not children.
  7. 10 Leon Kaplan 11 Aug
    Hi Howard, I'm glad that your passion for writing is out the closet...please keep it up! You've taken a mature approach to the remarks of an immature individual. My concern is that the community leadership have not been outspoken enough about this issue &, in particular, as an Old Davidian I feel betrayed. And the headlines("Kind David refuses to buckle") in tonight's 'The Star' are a Chillul Hashem!
  8. 9 Susan freeman 11 Aug
    The saddest part of this story is a Jewish person started a potition
    which has done more harm to the Jewish people for the lashon hara.

    There was a similar story at a school where the matter was swept under the carpet.
  9. 8 Daniel Friedman 11 Aug
    The perfect accessory for Howard Feldman would be a dunce cap.
  10. 7 Choni 12 Aug
    I maintain that the longer the Diaspora Jews choose to stay in (comfortable) exile, the more they are   unlikely to become true Zionists. There is only one definition of Zionism, and that is to love the Land of Israel and a strong commitment to live there.
    Our youth must be taught that they are not really Jews, but Israelis in exile. After all nowhere in the Chumash is there mention of the word Jew, or Jewish people. We are not "Jews" .We are Bnei Yisrael, and Am Yisrael. The fact that millions of us are scattered throughout the world, does not alter the fact that if the exile Jews would be taught that they were in fact Israelis (in exile/captivity), and not Jews, it would make them much more authentic Zionists.
    It will come as no surprise that there will be more and more of our young generation not knowing where their loyalties are. For this the blame must lie squarely on the Religious leaders and religious schools. ( in our present case I certainly would not class KingDavid as "religious" or Zionistic if nothing is being done about Broomberg and many others).
    Our young people are going to assimilate in any event.


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