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The Jewish Report Editorial

Remembering … 100 years later




While this was a big deal for Jews and there is great reason for us to commemorate this, who would think that anyone else in the world would concern themselves with this.

When we heard that the EFF were planning a march to the Israeli Embassy on November 2, we couldn’t work out why. It isn’t Israel Apartheid Week and there didn’t seem to be anything in the ether that would inspire this march. That is, until someone suggested it might be the Balfour Declaration anniversary on the same day. Really! Well, as it happened the EFF refused to tell us.

But, if it is that, they are not alone in making a fuss about a 100-year old declaration.

In fact, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May get together for dinner next Thursday, they will not be doing it at 10 Downing Street, but rather at another more private address.

While Jews around the world are grateful for this 67-word letter, Palestinians and their supporters apparently see it as the launchpad to their misery.

In this edition, Rabbi Ramon Widmonte gives a beautifully written insight into the truth behind this letter and he and The Academy are hosting a breakfast to celebrate the centenary.

Shabbos Project

This week, I have been amazed that everywhere I have gone, people have been talking about Shabbat. Shabbat happens 52 times a year and, for most people, it is part of their life.

I get that it is the Shabbos Project this weekend, but so what? What is the big deal?

For many Jewish families, Shabbos is always special. They are not necessarily going to be doing something especially different this weekend, or are they?

For some of us, it really will be different because we will be making an effort to keep Shabbos instead of rushing around doing the things we can’t get done during the week. It will be special down time, special family time, special community time and special thinking time.

When the Shabbos Project started in 2014, I was cynical about it and couldn’t figure out why the Chief Rabbi was doing it. It is hardly going to make secular people religious. It was just another Shabbat after all.

But something magical seems to happen when the whole community, religious, secular, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, young, old, rich and poor, all make a special effort over Shabbat.

For me, it has become a special family occasion and our family has created memories over the Shabbos Project.

One year, my boys and I built a makeshift tent with chairs and blankets in our garden and I spent hours reading to them.

Last year, we spent with my extended family in Glenhazel and loved the bonding we did, the long chats and discussions we wouldn’t normally have had time to have.

I remember the Friday night at shul when thunder and lightning threatened. Shul finished and we walked fast to get to the house, which wasn’t too far off. The rain started and we walked faster and then running in our heels, holding tightly to the little hands…

We were getting wet, giggling and rushing and just as we got over the threshold into the house, the heavens opened and we all burst out laughing. Afterwards, we wondered about the message we had received…

There is a sense over this Shabbat – no matter how many people pooh pooh it – of community and people welcoming those who are different. There is a sense of making a special effort for others and to make this a genuinely unique weekend.

There are some shuls, like Chabad Illovo, that have made special packages to deliver to less fortunate people to enjoy this Shabbat. Others are making an effort to bring extended families together because they are observant and usually spend their Shabbats in their own communities, and not with their parents and siblings.

These are just some of the ideas that people have come up with for this specific weekend.

Personally, I don’t care if film stars and internationally famous people are participating in it. They don’t mean anything to me. I don’t even care that there are places all over the world where this project has caught on.

I just care about the impact this has on us – this amazing, complicated, caring, family-oriented, sometimes judgemental and extremely generous South African community.

I for one am setting aside this weekend for some magic. Join me…

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Shabbat Shalom!


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