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The Jewish Report Editorial

Things are looking up

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For the first time in ages, it’s difficult not to be hopeful about South Africa’s future. The rand is growing stronger, our experts are cautiously optimistic, and things are looking good. I have to say that to witness the rand dropping below R18 to the dollar is quite emotional. It really engenders hope.

This means that not only do we feel like there’s hope, but the rest of the economic world is also feeling better about what’s happening here.

What an incredible relief it is to write that!

I’m not for a minute going to weigh in on what happened to create this situation, and give my views on the political and economic future of our country. I leave that to experts like Tony Leon (page 7), Mandy Wiener, and David Shapiro (both on page 4) who share their knowledge in this newspaper.

However, a colleague of mine suggested that we caution people against getting too “Ramaphoric” with all the good news and perhaps warn our readers what could happen. I was surprised by that, because I cannot see a downside to being optimistic and happy. It smacks, however, of exactly what our sage, Rabbi Levi Avtzon, writes about on this page. Too many of us look for things to stress about, to drive us into a frenzy of worry and distress. I can’t say I’m totally innocent in this regard. The truth is, if you look, you’ll find. But if you choose to look for good, it’s also there.

I agree with Rav Avtzon that we often get hysterical about things that aren’t within our ambit to change. More than that, we get upset about things that don’t need to upset us. When someone writes about it being time to consider emigrating, it doesn’t mean we all need to start packing our bags. It means someone is considering his options. He may be someone you respect and admire, and you think he’s wise, so read what he writes with that in mind. That’s all. But we dare not let one person’s opinion alter our plans or choices. We certainly cannot let it drive us into the doldrums because we cannot afford to emigrate or we aren’t quite sure what the future holds. Really!

Look how much and how quickly things have changed.

Who would have thought three weeks ago that we would be looking at a government with the African National Congress and Democratic Alliance (DA) in partnership? I have so much hope for the future of this partnership and for the wisdom of our leaders to be able to find ways to rebuild what’s broken in our country and economy. Here’s to jobs, prosperity, collaboration, and growth!

As I write this editorial on 19 June, President Cyril Ramaphosa is being inaugurated into the government of national unity. Our chief rabbi is at the Union Buildings in Pretoria for this big day, as is the leadership of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, represented by National Chairperson Karen Milner, and National Vice-President Zev Krengel, among others.

The chief rabbi delivered a prayer sporting his yellow ribbon – a symbol of the call for the return of the Israeli hostages still being held by Hamas. I was so proud that he did this. This is the first time in a while we have been so welcomed, and long may it last. It didn’t pass our community’s notice that the imam who gave a prayer before the chief rabbi was wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh. Each to his own values and beliefs, right?

We’ve not forgotten how Ramaphosa just a few weeks ago called for the obliteration of Israel by publicly chanting, “From the river to the sea!” We’ve not forgiven him, and while we may someday do that, we’ll never forget.

However, if this man along with the DA et al, can take our country forward with a constantly improving economy, rebuild our infrastructure, uplift industries and parastatals, I believe our support for him will grow. If he can focus on South Africa, letting go of his party’s obsession with the Middle East, and go all out to fix what needs fixing in this country, we’ll all be much happier.

And it does appear from where we sit right now that the tides have changed and the country is on an upward trajectory. I agree that it’s early days, but let’s look up rather than down. Let’s celebrate when and where we can. Why not?

As we watch what happens, let’s try our best to see the good in what there is, and there’s so much good right here and now in South Africa.

On a micro scale, we keep being alerted about amazing things that people within our community are doing. We’re told about sports people who are climbing the ranks in their sport, making us proud (see page 14), and this is reason to celebrate.

Last week, we celebrated Shavuot, the commemoration of the day we received the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai. It was a time of rebirth of the Jewish people, a time when we could see a new future. Back then, we didn’t know what the future would bring, but it certainly showed signs of brightness. And so, we find ourselves in South Africa, as a country, at a momentous time when there’s hope on our horizon.

Let’s garner that spirit of Shavuot, that spirit of positivity and aspiration, and put our effort into making the future of South Africa great.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peta Krost


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