Op-eds

Escalating infections drive home need for responsibility

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ (SAJBD) community leadership meeting on Sunday, 28 June, contained sobering news of the increase in the COVID-19 infections in society in general and in the Jewish community in particular.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Jul 02, 2020

Chaired by National Director Wendy Kahn, the meeting contained updates from medical experts Professor Barry Schoub and Dr Richard Friedland, as well as Lance Abramson from Hatzolah. The feedback brought home to everyone present the absolute necessity for members of the community, now and in the weeks ahead, to continue to exercise the utmost caution to minimise risk to themselves and those around them.

Our #InOurHands campaign, set up to drive home to our community the message that it must take full responsibility for its safety and that of others, quotes Schoub as saying, “The Jewish public has, up to now, been relatively spared the horror of this formidable disease – loved ones carted off to hospitals, isolated and perhaps even suffering a lonely ICU [intensive care] stay and, even worse, a lonely death. New York and London experienced it. What we do now could, to a large extent, forestall this.”

Gauteng, home to approximately two-thirds of South African Jewry, is now progressively coming to replace the Western Cape as the epicentre of the pandemic in the country. The smaller Jewish community in the Eastern Cape, another hard-hit province, is also coming under increasing pressure. All this is reflected in the escalating numbers of Jewish community members who have contracted the disease.

Hatzolah has reported that the numbers of those the organisation is taking care of in their homes has more than doubled in the past week. It has taken some time for the pandemic to be felt in Gauteng, but hopefully by now, any false sense of security this delay might have encouraged has been thoroughly dispelled. The next few weeks are going to be critical, and as before, I urge people to make full use of the guidelines and regular updates by Schoub, Friedland, and other experts on the SAJBD Facebook page and website to ascertain how best to conduct themselves.

Throughout this worrying time, the heroic life-saving work of community organisations and individuals in combating hunger throughout South Africa is continuing unabated. Through the Food Relief Fund it launched in May, the Board has supported a number of these initiatives, a recent example being the donation of food parcels to forty Eastern Cape families from the Amahleke Traditional Council. We need to maintain these projects to the greatest extent to which we are able, even as we take whatever steps we can to ensure the safety and well-being of our own community in the difficult weeks and months to come.

  • Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM, every Friday from 12:00 to 13:00.

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