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SA Jewish Report film festival lights up homes

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The SA Jewish Report’s first Online Film Festival has raised almost R150 000 towards supplying hot water bottles and rechargeable lights for those in need. The initiative is called the Share the Light Campaign as “we are re-energising South Africa by sharing our lights during loadshedding, darkness, and cold weather”, said Howard Sackstein, SA Jewish Report chairperson and webinar host.

“When we decided to run an online Jewish film festival where we would be showing remarkable documentaries free of charge to our community, we said we would do this so people can stay home in the middle of what is a cold and dark winter and be under the duvets while they’re watching amazing documentaries from around the world,” said Sackstein. He decided to use the film festival to make a difference to those who didn’t have the privilege of warmth and light during a loadshedding-filled winter.

Through the 154 SA Jewish Report webinars run so far, the SA Jewish Report has been able to raise an astounding amount of money for various charitable organisations, said Sackstein. He decided that the film festival would be no different.

“We thought, how can we use that opportunity to ask our community once again to do good? So what we’ve done and what we’ll continue to do throughout the first Online Film Festival is to ask people to donate if they’re able to and the donation goes towards buying rechargeable lights that people can use during loadshedding as well as hot water bottles that people can use and boil hot water for before the lights go off.”

Half of the money collected will go towards buying those facilities for the Jewish community, while half will go to townships and squatter communities around the country. “The first week, we raised enough money for more than 500 people to receive rechargeable lights and hot water bottles. So far, we’ve raised enough for 700 people to receive these items,” said Sackstein.

Glynne Wolman, from The Angel Network said, “We’ve already ordered the first 500 of everything. Two hundred water bottles and lights have gone to the Jewish Women’s Benevolent Society to distribute, 200 have come to The Angel Network, and 100 have been given to Yad Aharon & Michael.”

The lights and hot water bottles are being distributed by The Angel Network to townships around Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, and by Yad Aharon and the Jewish Women’s Benevolent Society to Jewish individuals and organisations such as Selwyn Segal and Sandringham Gardens.

“The Jewish Women’s Benevolent Society is most grateful for being included in this initiative and for giving us the opportunity to share the light with so many members of our own community in need,” said Fundraising Chairperson Leigh Brouze.

Yad Aharon Chief Executive Lauren Silberman said Yad Aharon was “absolutely thrilled” to receive these items.

“It’s just such an amazing initiative by our community to make sure that people are comfortable in what’s going to be a cold, dark winter,” said Sackstein. “At the moment, people are literally sitting in the dark in freezing weather, and anything that our community can do to alleviate that both within our community and in the broader community, I think is absolutely special. We’re so grateful to all the viewers of the SA Jewish Report webinars who want to be part of this campaign.”

To find how to donate, please email 

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