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The Jewish Report Editorial

Fight hatred with family values and caring

  • Peta low
Three weeks into the year, and that holiday feeling seems to have faded fast. The year’s stresses and tensions are building. School has begun, and universities are gearing up to open their doors.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Jan 24, 2019

Am I crazy, or is there a heightened sense of anger this year that seems fuelled by race, life pressures, and other apparently personal issues?

I look around me, and see people dealing with big issues, tragedies, sadness, and lots of anger. I have also noticed people talking past each other. Perhaps this is because they are lost in their own problems, and don’t have space to deal with anything else. While it doesn’t seem to be intentional, people seem to be self-involved, and entrenched in their own worries.

Unfortunately, this causes anger – lots of it – and people slinging mud at one another, mostly through apparent misunderstanding.

Some of the mud being slung around is anti-Semitic in nature and, unlike the usual anti-Israel sludge, there is clearly a rise in traditional anti-Semitism. This racism is the kind that has no connection to anything other than pure hatred.

It is important to know that this is not nearly as threatening as what is happening in Europe and other parts of the world, but it is a rising problem. Because of this, we put this story on our front page. Our community needs to be aware of what is happening, and it is our duty to tell you.

For me, it is a further wake-up call for us to pull together as an extended family – with all our differences – to stave off this rising problem.

We can and should unequivocally convey the message that racism is evil, and that there is never an excuse for it. We must be the light unto the nations in how we treat others, ensuring that we treat them as we would want to be treated.

Hatred of other people because of their colour, race, or religion is abhorrent, and we of all people know this.

We need to find ways of hearing each other – both inside and outside the extended family. We need to communicate to stave off anger and hatred.

Let’s start with our own families, move into the community, and then also reach out to our fellow countrymen and women, spreading equality, fairness, and benevolence.

I have had reason this week to spend an intense – but very special – time with my siblings. In so doing, I was aware of how we are all quite different, but no matter what, we have each other’s back. We support each other through good and bad times.

Not all families are like that. There are many who are divided and estranged, usually for reasons that are not really insurmountable, but often complicated.

But when push comes to shove, it is those with whom you share the most intrinsic history who are generally there for you.

Jewish people have always appreciated the centrality and importance of family. I know so many people who look at our community, and admire us for just that. They love how close-knit our families and our community are.

Being able to depend on family is such a gift. It makes each one in the unit that much stronger because we have each other’s back. As is always the case, we are stronger as a group than as an individual.

And so it goes for the community, which is in fact just one large family. We too are all different – some more than others. We don’t all agree. We don’t all lead the same kinds of lives.

At the end of the day, others will lump us together, especially when we are the object of their hatred. So, we need to see the humanity in each of us, and how we are just siblings of a larger family.

The point is: the world may be mad and angry, but we can choose to be different. We can also choose to be grateful for what we have, and share our family values with the world.

We can choose to look at our siblings and find fault. Or we can choose to cherish them for who they are and what they bring to our lives and the world.

This coming Sunday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day to remember the six million Jews who were exterminated by people who simply hated us. Many of those who committed the most abhorrent sins didn’t even hate us, they simply didn’t see us as human beings.

We cannot stop people feeling the way they feel, but we can show them what human beings can and should be. We need to be able to see the humanity in everyone, no matter who they are.

I know nobody is perfect. I certainly get angry, often say the wrong things, and have my likes and dislikes. This is not easy for me, and it won’t be easy for most of us.

However, it is the best way to move forward as a community in the face of hatred. Let’s become a model nation – or at least let’s try our best.

Let’s adopt the Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies No Place for Hate campaign to fight hatred directed against anyone, to combat the culture of racism, anti-Semitism, and prejudice in our country.

#saynotohate #noplaceforhate.

Shabbat Shalom!

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