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Stand by me

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There’s so much happening in our world, but when tragedy strikes too close to home, the rest becomes a blur.

There are a few people within our community who are going through some of the darkest days of their lives. Everything else has become insignificant compared to the pain they are experiencing.

You know, people say, may you have lots of problems because if you have many, they are small. If you have one massive one, the others seem to disappear. Such is the situation for a number of people in our community who are enduring extraordinarily tough and painful personal experiences.

Right now, we’re not at liberty to share their stories because we have to consider their needs and that of the community. Around the country and perhaps the world, people are saying tehillim. In two cases that I know of, the families are spreading mitzvot in the name of their loved ones.

I have a close relationship with a couple of people involved in one situation.

For much of this week, I hoped for some power to make things right, but couldn’t. I wanted to have the power to heal, but didn’t. I wanted to drop everything and go and fix what was wrong, but couldn’t. Such is the human condition.

As the days progressed, I realised that while I or we cannot fix the world and heal those who are ill, we can be there for people. We can perform a mitzvah without being asked.

I recall a tough time I went through over the past two years, and the reason I got through it was because I knew there were people who mattered deeply to me who cared. They were there for me, and would do anything in their power to support me.

Knowing that made each day brighter, and made the sun shine in the darkest hours.

It’s not enough just to say the words, but it is enough to really care and do what you can to help.

Help so often is about being a sounding board, a person there to hug, or that special person to offer a meal when there isn’t the wherewithal to consider the next one.

I’m so often astounded, as I have said so many times, that we have a community that reaches out to those in need and cares when nobody else seems to. What a gift!

During the worst of the pandemic, it was astonishing how many people supported those who were sick and their families. You didn’t have to ask – they were there.

Sometimes, you had never before met the person who reached out to help you. Was it a friend who you had never met or a guardian angel?

We live in a world of significant turmoil and we have things to worry about – economically, politically, racially… There’s no end to our problems!

However, when push comes to shove, it’s those interpersonal relationships and that one-on-one caring that will take us through the darkest times, no matter what they are.

Does that mean that we shut our eyes to the hardships or the information that will make us mad or fearful? Not at all!

We, on the SA Jewish Report, don’t believe in becoming ostriches and hiding our heads in the sand. If there’s a situation that’s uncomfortable or unpleasant, we should find a way to tell you because it could have an impact on all of us. We’re adults, and we don’t need someone to hide the truth from us. How else can we make informed decisions?

Rather know the situation and work with or deal with it than dig a hole and make as if it isn’t happening. I speak here of the rising antisemitism in parliament, which reflects the situation around the world, unfortunately.

It is as it is, but we dare not ignore it. We need to acknowledge it, and work with it.

But even then, a good deed goes a long, long way.

How often has Israel, for example, helped someone who is ill and needed special medical treatment? They may have been politically opposed to Israel, but that didn’t stop Israeli doctors doing all they could to save their life.

It’s about being human and seeing the humanity in others. This brings me to a tragedy that happened this week, when Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed while reporting on an Israel army operation in Jenin refugee camp.

What makes me angry is that rather than understanding this loss and, as media, finding ways to pay tribute to this woman, political points are being scored by pointing accusatory fingers.

Instead of considering the person who was killed, it has become a blame game. Those against Israel have accused Israeli soldiers, but there’s no evidence to say it’s true. In all the ugliness and hatred, the humanity of this apparently brave and talented veteran journalist has been forgotten.

Sometimes it takes deep-set goodness and strength to stand above the noise, to ignore the anger, and do the right thing. That’s who we are.

When those we care about or don’t know very well are in a dark place, reach out and hold their hand. Yes, we would all like to change their situation. We would like to be magicians and make it all right, but invariably we can’t.

But we can be there for them and just give them the hug they need or the shoulder to cry on to get them to the next day or next hour.

I may be preaching to the converted, but if I can convince you to do something small for someone in need, I have done what I set out to do today.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peta Krost

Editor

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