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What to do with your children during the holidays

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Lifestyle

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.

YOUTH MOVEMENTS

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 www.cgijoburg.co.za or email camp@chabad.org.za

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 info@betarsa.co.za

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 http://www.netzer.org.za/summer-machaneh/ 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 nina@habo.org.za, or call our Johannesburg office on 011 786 7046.

JOHANNESBURG

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: bookings@realadventures.co.za or call 082 924 4060.

CAPE TOWN

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: thefarmvillage.co.za

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: thecompanysgarden.com

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: facebook.com.

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: karting.co.za

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: claycafe.co.za

DURBAN

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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Enough vaccines to go round, say experts, but not for a while

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There is a widespread perception in the community that South Africa is lagging way behind in its vaccine rollout, but insiders say there will be enough vaccines to go round and herd immunity isn’t a pipe dream.

Discovery Group Chief Executive Adrian Gore told the SA Jewish Report this week that South Africa had secured 51 million doses of vaccines. These include 31 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“Together, these should be sufficient to cover more than 40 million adults in South Africa, exceeding the population herd immunity target of 29 million people,” he said.

He said cabinet had indicated an intention to vaccinate all high-risk groups, including essential workers, people over the age of 60, and people living with multiple co-morbidities by the latest October 2021.

“Discovery, together with public and private-sector partners, is pushing hard to achieve this sooner, pending the available supply of vaccines.”

Professor Barry Schoub, emeritus professor in virology at the University of the Witwatersrand and the former director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, agreed that there was a perception that the country was lagging behind.

However, Schoub said South Africa was lucky that the lag hadn’t been too damaging, because of the low transmission rate of the virus. This, he said, was “unlike the continuing devastation in the northern hemisphere in spite of extensive vaccine rollouts in those countries”.

“We do hope that there will be sufficient vaccination in good time for a large proportion of high-risk individuals to be covered before we experience our third wave and before winter,” he said.

“Unfortunately, financially, we weren’t able to race with the hounds and grab all the good vaccines, as most of the high-income countries have selfishly done, procuring far more than their populations needed.”

Schoub, who also chairs the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 tasked with advising the government on vaccine-related matters, said there were a number of important things to remember about the rollout.

“First, many of the middle and lower-income countries have opted to roll out with vaccines which haven’t yet been approved by what are called stringent regulatory authorities, for example the United States Food and Drug Administration,” he said. “For example, vaccines from China and Russia, which may well be very good vaccines and are also undergoing review in South Africa, but haven’t yet been approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).”

South Africa is “very fortunate” in having an excellent regulatory authority in SAHPRA, Schoub said, advised and supported by a team of excellent local scientists, in order to uphold high standards of safety and efficacy in approving vaccines for use in this country.

“Also, it’s indeed fortunate that we didn’t, in fact, like high-income countries, rush to buy large amounts of vaccines because of the dominance of the B.1.351 variant in South Africa. This variant is proving to be a major determinant of vaccine efficacy.

“We are also fortunate in this country to have a network of scientists which ranks amongst the top in the world in the COVID-19 field, who can provide the most advanced scientific evaluation of the suitability of vaccines for the South African environment, especially given the dominance of the B.1.351 variant.”

South Africa’s vaccines are expected to start arriving in the middle of this month, according to Gore.

A total of 0.6 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses are scheduled for delivery this month, and a further 4.5 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses are scheduled for delivery in May and June, with the remaining 15 million doses scheduled for delivery in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

Gore, who has been working with the task team (chaired by Schoub) appointed by the health minister to support vaccine procurement, said 2.8 million Johnson & Johnson doses were scheduled for delivery from April to June, with the balance scheduled for delivery in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

He said Discovery had been working on detailed plans to ensure its medical-scheme members and clients were able to access vaccinations as soon as they were eligible according to national prioritisation criteria.

“In alignment with the national priority setting process and three-phase rollout, we have segmented and stratified our member base based on those at highest risk. Through this exercise, we have identified more than 550 000 clients and members as high-risk,” he said. “The aim is to vaccinate this group as quickly as possible, then to go on to provide access to vaccination for the remaining 2.5 million members and clients as quickly as possible in the following phases of the rollout, ideally before the end of 2021.”

He said Discovery was also preparing to help its members navigate the vaccination process. This includes how to register on the Electronic Vaccination Data System, how to locate accredited vaccination sites, providing follow-up reminders for second doses, and providing access to vaccination certificates.

“Discovery is participating in Business for South Africa workstreams that are planning the roll out of the national COVID-19 vaccination programme alongside the national department of health. We are contributing skills and expertise to support this national effort,” Gore said.

He said Discovery remained in regular contact with vaccine manufacturers, while making every effort in co-ordination with the health department to speed up availability to members of the medical schemes it administers.

“Schemes administered by Discovery have ring-fenced funds for vaccination for all members. We are ready and waiting to disburse these funds pending the arrival of vaccines and official launch of the next phase of the rollout,” he said.

According to the health department, the number of healthcare workers vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol remains 269 102, a tiny figure compared with the United States, where a record four million people received a vaccine last Saturday alone.

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Labia Theatre’s nine-year battle against anti-Israel film

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It’s been nine years since Labia Theatre owner Ludi Kraus was unwittingly caught up in a fight with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) over the screening at his theatre of a documentary which compares Israel to apartheid South Africa.

“This is a battle I didn’t choose,” he says in an exclusive interview with the SA Jewish Report. “I stood up for the rights of independent cinemas and in particular my theatre. It’s been enormously stressful, but I didn’t want my theatre to be used for an event that was central to something as divisive as the opening of Israel Apartheid Week (IAW). So, I stuck with those principles.”

In a judgment delivered on 26 March 2021, Western Cape Judge Andre Le Grange of the Equality Court ruled that the Labia must screen the film The Roadmap to Apartheid within 60 days, and it was ordered to pay costs.

Kraus, who is Jewish, couldn’t at the time of going to press share how he and his legal team would respond to the judgment, but he recalled how it all started. “I received a request from a publishing company to rent a cinema on a Sunday afternoon. It was called, somewhat innocuously, Workers World Media Productions.

“An arrangement regarding the screening of the film was made, and I was told to send an invoice to the PSC. I was puzzled because I thought it was a South African movie linked to apartheid. The publishing company hadn’t mentioned the PSC at all. So I googled the film, and to my surprise, found that it was about comparing apartheid to Israel and the Palestinians. I didn’t feel comfortable showing the film, especially when I found out that the screening at the Labia was to be a central part of the opening of IAW in 2012.

“I was unhappy with the film and the event. I felt it wouldn’t be popular with the majority of my patrons, especially considering the hundreds of other venues that could be used to screen it instead. I phoned the publishing company, and told it that I didn’t want to proceed. Communication was initially polite. They were understanding, and said they would discuss it with their colleagues.

“The next thing, I was by accident sent some in-house emails that weren’t intended for me, in which one person said that they were happy to find an alternative venue, but others insisted that it be shown at the Labia, which would generate publicity for their cause.

“We were then subjected to emails, threats, boycotts, and pickets every Friday for a year. They got academics and the media involved. Meanwhile, the film was shown on UCT [the University of Cape Town] campus, and went on a national tour.

“They also got organisations to boycott us, and some of it did affect us. We were then approached by Right2Know (R2K), which said it was prepared to mediate. It culminated in our agreeing to a screening of the film on condition that the South African Zionist Federation [SAZF] be present to debate the film afterwards. We obviously wanted to try and have a balanced debate. But the SAZF pulled out. Because the condition hadn’t been met, we cancelled the screening, which led to a further outcry.

“That was followed by both the PSC and R2K lodging complaints with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). The SAHRC found in favour of us.

“Unbeknown to us though, the PSC and R2K then appealed the SAHRC decision without notifying us that they were doing so,” Kraus says. “This time, on appeal, the SAHRC overturned its initial decision, and found against us. The first we heard about the appeal ruling was a year after it had taken place. Yet, it’s a legal principle that you can’t rule against someone if you haven’t given them the opportunity to hear their side of the story, as was the case here.

“So, we took the SAHRC’s decision on review to the High Court, and we won that battle. But the Equality Court, in a separate matter brought by the PSC, ruled against us, ordering a screening of the film.”

Going forward, Kraus is most concerned about the ongoing funding of legal costs, especially if the case goes all the way to the Constitutional Court. The cinema has had a tough year financially as it was in lockdown for five months. It was then hit by the second wave during the holiday season – the only time it could have ‘caught up’. Having now fought two high court cases, it simply doesn’t have the resources to continue to fight with an appeal to the Supreme Court and then, if necessary, the Constitutional Court. Kraus says that even with his attorneys acting pro bono, the cost of driving these matters through the courts is still substantial for a small business.

“It’s a struggle. Many of our patrons are older people who aren’t ready to return to the cinema, even though we have COVID-19 safety protocols in place,” says Kraus. The cinema is hoping to draw a younger audience with more commercial titles. It has also launched a streaming service that is available anywhere in South Africa.

Kraus believes that the PSC and its supporters don’t care much about the actual screening of the film at the Labia anymore. “For them, all these years later, it’s more about the publicity that’s being generated over the issue,” he says.

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Photos reveal Africa’s Jewish tapestry

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“My photographs try to weave together the complex tapestry of the Jewish African peoples segregated by historical, cultural, linguistic, and regional divides yet united by a faith in Hashem.”

So says Jono David, a British-born photographer living in Japan who has travelled the globe to amass what is perhaps the most extensive archive of contemporary images of Jewish heritage and heritage sites in the world.

Included in his growing compendium of more than 120 000 photographs from 116 countries and territories is his collection of photographs of Jews in Africa from 30 countries on the continent. The best of these photographs are in a book titled, The Jews of Africa: Lost Tribes, Found Communities, Emerging Faiths that includes essays by scholars, rabbis, and African Jews.

“Between August 2012 and April 2016, I embarked upon eight unique Jewish Africa photo tours comprised of about 60 total weeks of travel to 30 countries and territories,” David writes. “Ultimately, I archived about 65 000 Jewish Africa photographs, and I did so with the aim of answering one primary question: who are the Jews of Africa?

“I was particularly interested in the emerging black Jewish communities in places such as Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar, Gabon, and Cameroon. Over the past 20 or so years, the phenomenon of religious renouncement and self-conversion to Judaism has, in some cases, as in Ghana, Cameroon, and Gabon, grown with the rise of internet connection there. Real-time connection is weaving a black Jewish tapestry across the continent,” David writes in his book.

“So far, these small but fervent communities remain largely ignored by official entities in Israel and in the mainstream Jewish world. The century-old Abayudaya community in Uganda is officially recognised by Conservative Judaism, but that’s an exception. Connections with outside Jewish organisations and rabbis are increasing, however, and official Jewish recognition remains an important aim.

“In my travels, these communities held a particular fascination, but I was equally mindful of the European-rooted congregations. I was curious not merely about their history, but about their manifestations of Jewish life in comparison to familiar ways in Europe.

“Today, while Jewish communities of the southern African region shrink and ancient ones of the Maghreb cling on [notably in Morocco and Tunisia], black Jewish groups are growing in number, in location, and in commitment,” David concludes. “Following subjugation over the centuries by invaders both political and religious, motivating factors for this Jewish awakening are rooted in a quest for truth and identity, truth rooted in the tenants of Judaism and the Torah, an identity founded in self-determination.”

  • See more of Jono David’s Jewish work at JewishPhotoLibrary.com

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