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Veganism is good for the planet, but is it a healthy choice?




It’s the latest trend, the game changer athlete’s choice, the planet saver’s contribution, and the plant-based burgers’ income. The real question is what science says about veganism, and whether we have enough conclusive evidence about it and its plant-based substitutes?

Veganism goes beyond diet. It’s a philosophy defined by a way of living which seeks to exclude all forms of exploitation of animals. A vegan diet excludes any animal-based products such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and honey. The choice to follow a vegan diet stems from ethical and environmental concerns, or from a desire to improve your health. The health benefits have been supported by studies and research, but care needs to be taken in different circumstances.

When it comes to healthy nutrients, vegans have been shown to have the highest intake of dietary fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate, vitamin C and E, vitamin B1, polyphenols and other anti-oxidant containing compounds. Due to this and other reasons, plant-based diets have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Cardiovascular health

Vegans can have better cardiovascular health. The saturated fat and dietary cholesterol intake of vegans is less than half that of meat-eaters, resulting in lower cholesterol levels. Low incidence of heart failure has also been attributed to high intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and wholegrain products which in turn increase the intake of antioxidants, micronutrients, and fibre and reduces inflammation.

Obesity and weight loss

Several studies have shown that plant-based diets are associated with lower levels of obesity and have been relatively effective for weight loss. This can be attributed to the fact that vegan diets include less unhealthy fats, reduced intake of hormone-containing proteins (with detoxification and weight impacts) and more dietary fibre. Skipping these items can potentially decrease inflammation, which in turn can reduce weight gain.

When looking more critically at the studies, it’s evident that vegans also generally have healthier life habits, which affects health and weight, making it trickier to differentiate between the influence of a disciplined lifestyle and a vegan diet on weight. More conclusive research is needed in this regard.

It’s important to remember that successful weight loss depends on the individual, and the best diet for you is that determined by your unique biology, medical history, relationship to food, and genetics.


It feels obvious that with vegans consuming high amounts of foods and nutrients that protect against cancer, this is an area where veganism will shine.

While most studies do show a lower incidence of cancer in vegans as opposed to many other diets, population studies have not shown more pronounced differences in the incidence of cancer. Although a high intake of fruit, vegetables, and legumes contains chemo-preventative factors, many studies fail to distinguish between vegetarians and vegans, making it hard to draw conclusions without further research.

Eat more plants, they said

Without doubt, eating more plant-based foods is good for our health. Many studies show the benefits of increasing fruit, vegetables, and legumes on weight and the reduction of chronic diseases. Does this mean that veganism is the best diet? Could we obtain health benefits by modifying the type and amount of animal-based protein that we eat without having to go vegan?

Large studies have shown the Mediterranean diet to be one of the best approaches to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer while also improving brain health and well-being.

Nutritionally adequate?

The American Dietetics Academy emphasises that vegan diets can be relevant, beneficial, and nutritionally adequate to many if they are appropriately planned as there can be associated downsides and diet deficiencies.

With the complete elimination of animal products from one’s diet comes the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. Vegans have been shown to have the lowest intake of some important and essential nutritional components. Having said this, it’s possible to avoid nutritional deficiencies by ensuring that you eat a variety of food as well as know which foods and supplements are needed. Individuals prone to deficiencies include those with medical conditions as well as populations with specific dietary requirements such as the elderly and young.

It’s important to be aware that if you are someone who has allergies to soy, seeds, and nuts you may find a vegan diet limiting and even nutritionally deplete.

Weight loss and veganism

Consuming a vegan diet has been shown to improve weight loss but, as mentioned above, this isn’t guaranteed, and is dependent on multiple and individual factors. Many vegans, however, may find it hard to lose weight given the higher intake of starch and starch-heavy legumes. Care also needs to be taken about the many processed vegan foods and alternatives containing more preservatives, fats, and calories.

Although veganism seems to be taking the world by storm, from a scientific perspective, there still isn’t enough data to determine its long-term health effects. There’s no doubt that vegan diets have fundamental health benefits. However, the research to date makes it hard to distinguish between vegan and vegetarian diets as well as the healthier lifestyle choices that vegans lead.

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What to do with your children during the holidays



This year, many of us are staying home or looking for activities for our children that will be COVID-19-safe. While we can’t list all the activities in and around South Africa, here are some to help out.


Camp Gan Yisrael: Day camp for children aged 3 to 12 years old. From 7 to 18 December. With the motto, “Making Jewish kids happier, and happy kids Jewisher”, Camp Gan Yisrael is more than a break from the school routine or an opportunity for mom to breathe during the holidays, it runs a comprehensive programme aimed at strengthening body and soul, providing your child with a stimulating holiday of fun and excitement along with friendship and meaningful educational experiences.. Due to COVID-19-prevention guidelines, Camp Gan Yisrael has to limit its intake. For more information, visit or email

Betar hike: 10 and 20 December, Linksfield Ridge, 08:00 to 12:00. Join Betar for a guided tour of Linksfield Ridge. Includes free hand sanitiser, snacks, and beverages. All ages welcome, including beginners. Call 082 857 9169 or email

Netzer day camps: Offering programmes and outings in and around Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, as well as some online programming to bring its regions and internationals together. The machaneh experience includes components of fun adventurous outings, Netzer programming, Netzer ma’amadim/services, online programming and services, as well as daily educational content. All programming and outings will be carried out in open, outdoor, and/or well ventilated spaces. Everyone will be required to keep a social distance and wear masks at all times. Temperatures will be taken on arrival, and sanitiser will be distributed and will be available at all times. Go to to sign-up and to get more information.

Habonim summer day camps: In Johannesburg from 14 to 18 December, and in Cape Town from 21 to 24 December. Our week-long activities promise to be the most fun, educational, and safe way to spend your December holidays. Habonim is excited to be able to host meaningful programming for our chaverim this December in spite of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Johannesburg day camps take place at King David Linksfield Primary School and in Cape Town at the Glen Green Point Sports Centre. Themes relating to Israel and South Africa are explored in depth as hundreds of children gain a sense of self and Jewish identity coupled with a more critical and pro-active look at the challenges facing us and our surroundings. Children return home every day with a strengthened value system, a stronger belief in themselves, and as confident young adults. Email, or call our Johannesburg office on 011 786 7046.


Festival of Lights Joburg Zoo 2020: 22 November 2020 to 3 January 2021. Joburg Theatre in association with the City of Johannesburg’s Joburg Zoo, City Parks, and City Power present the second annual Festival of Lights featuring an enchanting collection of illuminated life-size animal characters and classical entertainment, food, and a craft night market for visitors to the Joburg Zoo. Patrons can enjoy a tranquil walk in the zoo on a designated lit route away from the animals under trees decorated in enchanting lights. The Joburg Zoo Festival of Lights offers patrons entertainment and a night out at the zoo for all ages.

Happy Island Waterworld: 27 November 2020 to 31 January 2021. South Africa’s largest water park is packed with fast-paced slides, rubber tube rides for all ages, and features the biggest wave pool in Africa. The family-friendly venue offers world-class water entertainment such as the exhilarating gravity loop, rainbow slide, and typhoon rides. The lazy river and massage pools offer a more relaxing water activity. The enormous wave pool measures a colossal 20 000m2, equipped with hydraulics that generate ocean-like waves at regular intervals. Lifeguards are constantly on duty to ensure the safety of visitors. Venue: Happy Island Waterworld, 106 Lake View Drive, Muldersdrift. Time: 09:00 to 18:00. Cost: various.

Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox: 28 November 2020 to 23 December 2020. On at the National Children’s Theatre’s new outdoor theatre with all COVID-19 protocols observed. This show is suitable for children aged three and up. Bring along sunscreen, a sun hat, umbrella, picnic basket, and a blanket. Venue: National Children’s Theatre, 3 Junction Avenue, Parktown, Johannesburg. Time:  09:30 daily Tuesday to Sunday, and 16:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. Cost: R120.

White-water rafting on the Vaal River near Johannesburg: Ready to take on the raging white-water rapids of the mighty Vaal? Trips ideal for beginners, family outings, and adrenalin junkies. For more information: or call 082 924 4060.


Noordhoek Farm Village: There is so much on offer for families at Noordhoek Farm Village, made up of the Foodbarn (one of the only fine-dining restaurants in town that welcomes kids), Café Roux, the Toad in the Village restaurant, two pubs, and a fantastic children’s playground. There are large open spaces for children to run around while adults relax and enjoy a great meal or do some shopping at the funky shops. Website:

The Company’s Gardens: Children love the Company’s Gardens and it’s easy to see why. There are so many open spaces for them to run around in, and they get to feed the squirrels! Even most adults get a kick out of the adorable creatures. Buy a bag of peanuts for the squirrels from the vendors at the entrance, take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, and end it off with something to eat and drink at the great Company’s Garden restaurant. Website:

The Palms Market: Every Saturday, there’s another Woodstock market that unfolds (the other – more popular – one being the Neighbourgoods Market) which offers a variety of things to see, do, and eat for the whole family. The idea is that it’s a platteland atmosphere within urban Cape Town. There’s a great variety of food (think homemade pies, marmalades, gourmet mushrooms, gourmet sandwiches, and much more) and often some live music taking the stage. The kids will love the unpretentious, relaxed set-up of everything, while the older ones will enjoy the variety on offer. Website:

Go karting: Kenilworth Karting has been around for quite some time and is the perfect spot for those who want some friendly petrolhead competition. Older kids in the family can challenge their folks to see who can set the fastest lap time or who can complete the most amount of laps in a set amount of time. There is also a track at Century City. Website:

The Clay Café: Get the whole family together for this one! At the Clay Café in Hout Bay, children and parents get to spend the day painting crockery that you can take home. The staff at the Clay Café will be on hand to help everyone with techniques so that everyone creates their very own masterpiece. The restaurant serves up delicious meals throughout the day. Website:


Aerial cable trail – Karkloof Canopy Tours: Karkloof Canopy Tours offers the unequalled experience of ziplining in the indigenous Karkloof Forest. Safely harnessed in mountaineering equipment and under the close supervision of a professional team of guides, prepare yourself for a Tarzan and Jane adventure that will take you among the birds and monkeys of this magnificent forest. Call 033 330 3415.

uShaka Marine World – aquarium diving and scuba diving: uShaka Marine World offers adventurers three unforgettable experiences. The Snorkel Experience: see myriad silvery fish flash only millimetres from your face as you float lazily around the snorkel lagoon, or dive through the Phantom Ship, where you will be able to spot the long-lost treasures from the cargo ship wreck, including a Willy’s Jeep believed to be from World War II, but beware, you may come face to face with a shark! Bring only your swimwear and a towel, as we provide you with a buoyancy vest, mask and snorkel. The Xpanda Shark Dive: With nothing but the Xpanda cage between you and the sharks, you can test your courage by enduring a close encounter with Ragged Tooth sharks circling your cage and enjoy seeing Brindle bass at close range. The Oceanwalker Experience: uShaka Marine World is the only place in South Africa where you can walk among the sea’s beautiful creatures using the innovative Oceanwalker device. The Open Ocean Tank has magnificent marine life such as rays, sand sharks, tuna, and pompano, and to think you don’t need a diving qualification to enjoy a walk inside uShaka Marine World’s largest exhibit! Guests aged 12 years and above welcome, from Wednesday to Sunday throughout the year. Contact: 031 328 8000.

Beach Horse Rides: Spend a morning on a Beach Horse Ride in Durban and you will know exactly what we are talking about! We offer exhilarating horseback beach adventures on the beautiful Reunion Beach in the south of Durban. From seven to 70 years old, and total novice to experienced riders can join us. Contact: 084 467 0752.

Kite surfing – Surfers Ballito Bay: At Surfers Ballito Bay we offer instruction by International Kiteboarding Organisation-qualified instructors, and whether you are eight or 88, our courses will provide you with the skills that you need to tackle the wind and waves. Contact: 032 946 0018.

KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board boat tour: While in Durban, why not stop by Umhlanga and join the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board crew for a boat tour on an early morning? Enjoy watching the safety system at play and learn about sharks, and you may even get to see dolphins, turtles, and rays. Contact: 031 566 0400.

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Layers of history and mystery in delicious ‘Jodetert’



It’s a showstopper of a cake – pancake-thin baked biscuits layered with homemade custard, piled high in a way that’s pleasing on the eye and the appetite. It’s called a “Jewish custard tart”, but it’s most commonly known as a “Joodsetert”, “Jodetert”, or “Jodetort” in the Afrikaans community, where it’s a favourite at bake sales and celebrations. So why don’t South African Jews know about the cake that’s named after us?

Jewish caterers across the country say the recipe has never crossed their tables. “This is the first I’ve heard of it. In the 40-odd years of being in this industry, it’s never been requested, offered, or discussed,” said restaurant owner Michael Wener in Cape Town.

Chefs Sharon Glass in Johannesburg and Linda Nathan in Durban echoed the sentiments. Jodi Chait in Cape Town responded positively, saying “I make this all the time!”, but she didn’t inherit the recipe from her mother or bobba. Rather, she was told about it by her dentist, who is Afrikaans. She still follows his recipe today.

Responding to a post on Facebook, Lynette Cronje and Charlotte Smith told the SA Jewish Report that growing up in Pretoria and East London, Jodetert was a favourite in their homes.

“My Afrikaans grandma always used to bake this. It was her star recipe, and she passed it on to me,” says Smith. “Her recipe was handwritten. I think she probably got it from her local women’s organisation or a friend or family member. Her Jodetert was the favourite at the tuisnywerheid [home industry store].”

Cronje’s story is almost identical to Smith’s, and when both women asked Jewish friends if they had heard of Jodetert, they hadn’t. Cronje landed up bringing one all the way from Pretoria for her Jewish friend to try.

When Small Jewish Communities Association National Director Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft asked Jews living in country communities if they had made or heard of Jodetert, all but one said they hadn’t. “The one coffee shop in Bethlehem makes Joodsetert, and others in Bethlehem make it too. We always said we’ve never heard of it or made it. We find it very strange,” says Lauren Klevansky.

Megan Furniss wrote a blog post in 2016 describing how she had known her husband “for almost 13 years, and over those 13 years, he has told me about his most favourite dessert, a thing called Jewish Tart.” He came from an Afrikaans background, and “his ouma and mom made it for him on very special occasions, and it was his best thing. I have never heard of or seen a Jewish Tart, so I thought maybe his strange and wonderful family had given something this name, and they were the only ones.”

Furniss subsequently made the cake, but it was “a disaster”. She suggests that the recipe may have been named for Jews whom Afrikaans-speakers interacted with.

In response to Furniss’ post, Ronni Israelstam wrote in 2018 that he went to an excellent Afrikaans-owned bakery in Joburg, and they had miniature Jodeterte for sale. “It got me searching for the origins amongst my ‘boereJode’ and Afrikaans friends. They had all heard of it, and many had recipes from grannies, but no one could explain the origin. As a Jewish person, I’ve never come across this confectionery, so I’m really puzzled.”

Some in the South African Jewish community say they know of a similar cake, called a Napoleon or a Tort Medovik, and that their mothers or grandmothers baked such a cake. Writing from Lithuania, Nida Degutiene told the SA Jewish Report, “After reading the recipe, I’m confident that this is a Napoleon – the iconic cake baked in Lithuania for more than 100 years. The only addition to the recipe is one layer of cranberry jam. Without Napoleon Cake, any celebration, wedding, or family gathering wouldn’t be possible,” she says.

Degutiene is “more than certain” the Napoleon Cake was made by Jewish women in Lithuania and taken with them to South Africa. She spoke to Professor Rimvydas Lauzikas, the leading expert on culinary history in Lithuania, who said that the Napoleon Cake was created in Russia in 1912 by a French chef to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the so-called Patriotic War or French invasion of Russia.

Lauzikas says the recipe could have travelled along with Jewish families from Lithuania to South Africa, in particular from larger cities, as wealthier members of society often had French chefs who may have made the Napoleon Cake.

However, “The problem is that neither Tort Medovik nor Jodetert nor anything similar appear in South African Jewish community cookbooks,” says Gavin Beinart-Smollan, a food historian and archival researcher for the course “A Seat at the Table: A Journey into Jewish Food” at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

“I haven’t come across anything resembling these recipes in my own research on these cookbooks,” he says. “And the cookbooks certainly do include Litvak baked goods and sweets that Jewish immigrants brought with them – teiglach, pletzlach, imberlach, and so on. So even if Jodetert did originally come from Jewish immigrants to South Africa, it was likely never something that was particularly widespread amongst Jews.” Asked if Jodetert could have been an Afrikaans recipe named for Jews, Beinart-Smollan says this is plausible.

And yet, the Jewish connection remains there – a link as thin as the biscuit bases it features. In her meticulously researched story, “Putting the Jew back into Jodetert” in Daily Maverick on 23 October 2020, food writer Dr Anna Trapido found a recipe closely resembling Jodetert but listed as a Napoleon Tort in the Kitchen Stories community cookbook published in 2018 as a fundraiser for the Ohr Kodesh Congregation, Beit Shemesh-Mateh Yehuda, Israel.

The recipe was supplied by Leningrad-born émigré Stella Shurhavetsky. “Her layers are made using the same ingredients and virtually the same quantities that South Africans use in a Jodetert,” writes Trapido. “Mrs Shurhavetsky also offered a theological explanation for the seven layers in her recipe. Seven represents the seven species, the seven days of creation, the seven laws of Noah, and the seven times Israelites encircled the walls of Jericho. In South Africa, the meaning has been lost but the number remains”. As one Free State baker observed, “I don’t know why, but I just do it that way. It’s seven because it has always been seven – that’s what my ouma did.”

For now, the recipe remains a treasured heirloom in Afrikaans households – and a way for Jewish and Afrikaans communities to connect.

“I grew up eating Jodetert at all the special functions on my mother’s side of the family. My grandmother used to make it especially for my uncle, it was his absolute favourite. This photo is taken from my mother’s ancient cookbook,” wrote Maché Myburgh on her food blog in 2014, sharing an image of a typewritten recipe in Afrikaans.

“No one knows where it comes from. It’s called a Jewish Custard Tart, but nowhere else in Jewish cooking do we see anything like it. It’s not typically boerekos [Afrikaans food] either, since it’s a bit more intricate in construction.”

When contacted by the SA Jewish Report six years after writing this, Myburgh becomes emotional. “We follow my gran’s Jodetert recipe, and we just found out this afternoon that she isn’t well – she may not make it to her 90th birthday in January. It would be such an honour to share her recipe with you.”

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Back to Work



So many in our community have lost their jobs since the onset of lockdown. We have invited people in this position to send in their details so we can help them find work. Here is our fourth group:

Name: Glenn Bloch

Education: Matric (King David High School Linksfield); BA Fine Arts (Wits); VEGA Diploma

Experience: Photographer, Cinematographer, and Graphic Design

Looking for a position in: Food and Product Photographer, Wedding and Event Photographer, Commercial and Portrait Photographer, Videography, and basic Graphic Design

More information: I am a Videographer and Photographer, specialising in conceptual, fashion, glamour, corporate, food, beverages, fine art, and events of all kinds. I shoot for the love of film, photography, people, the conceptual and special events, and am fully dedicated to helping you with shooting all the content needed for you or your brand.

Current location: Johannesburg

Willing to relocate: Yes

Email address:

Name: Stuart Kolman

Education: Matric (Eden College)

Experience: Sales, customer care, or willing to learn new things

Looking for a position in: Sales, customer service, or willing to learn new things

Current location: Johannesburg

Willing to relocate: No

Email address:

Name: Marcelle Bloom Ravid

Education: BA Honours Archaeology (Hebrew University); first year Communications (Unisa); Certificate in Journalism (Damelin)

Experience: Communications Specialist

Looking for a position in: Full-time position in communications and/or clientele for full-service communications agency

More information: I am an experienced communications practitioner with many years of wisdom in the corporate, government, and non-profit sectors, both locally and internationally. I also run my own agency, serving clients with the full-house of communications. I have extensive writing skills, landing press coverage for clients in print and broadcast outlets, globally. Fourteen years as a City Councillor have honed my inter-personal skills.

Current location: Johannesburg

Willing to relocate: No

Email address:

Name: Barry Cohen

Education: Matric (SACS); Law degree (UCT)

Experience: Management, NPO, Marketing, Sponsorship, Event management, Law

Looking for a position in: CEO, Managerial, Marketing, or Consulting

More information: Developed overseas video chain, headed divisions at SuperSport and the Rugby Board, CEO CANSA, Museum operator, Author

Current location: Cape Town

Willing to relocate: Yes

Email address:

Name: Harrold Nochomovitz

Education: Career was as a professional photographer

Experience: Harrold is a gentlemen that is sober of habits, fit, and reliable. Looking for employment as a driver, or any other type of work. Seeking employment desperately.

Looking for a position in: Office, admin, clerical, transport

More information: Photographer for many years, and also a driver with a valid PDP licence.

Current location: Johannesburg

Willing to relocate: No

Email address:

Name: Brenda Miller

Education: Matric (Anchor College); Dale Carnegie course; MAG computer course

Experience: Sales Representative for different/all products.

Looking for a position in: Sales Representative

More information: Thirty years experience in selling 9-carat and sterling silver jewellery, cufflinks, and fashion accessories. Very determined, hard working, loyal, and service orientated. Good working relationship with customers. Will go the extra mile for them. Honest and willing to learn new products to sell.

Current location: Johannesburg

Willing to relocate: No

Email address:

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