Cape Town Jewish Community prepares for a potential Day Zero

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Jessica Jedeikin, Dean Rosin, Councillor Stuart Diamond and Alderman Ian Neilson stand behind Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein as he says a prayer for rain at a community meeting organised by the Board of Deputies.

Should water saving efforts not succeed, the City of Cape Town has estimated that Day Zero may happen in June (update: since going to print this date has been pushed back to July). All organisations of the Cape Town Jewish community are working towards a potential D-day to be prepared and make it easier to roll out assistance, especially for those most vulnerable.

United Herzlia Schools (UHS)
Herzlia will remain open across all its campuses. “We have been planning for Day Zero for a number of months now and have plans in place to ensure a supply of both drinking and sanitation water. Our main concerns have been and will remain the health and safety of our children and staff,” wrote school directors in an email to parents.
The UHS has ordered a number of Atmospheric Water Generators which are capable of generating a limited amount of drinking water each day. The larger schools have separate reticulation systems for drinking water and sanitation. When Day Zero comes they will utilise water from the swimming pools and Jojo tanks to flush toilets and for basic cleaning.
“In order to ensure optimal levels of hydration for each person we have to work together and in this regard pupils and staff must bring a bottle of water to school each day for their daily consumption. Furthermore, we will be stockpiling drinking water at each campus.”
Storerooms across campuses have been cleared and prepared for receiving of emergency bulk fresh drinking water stocks; and schools have closed and locked all outside taps (fields and playgrounds) at all campuses to avoid theft.
Herzlia has purchased an additional 14 Jojo tanks (between 5 000 and 10 000 litre capacities) for the collection of rain water and storage of any water that it manages to procure. “We have also purchased a water trailer to enable us to move water from one campus to another. If necessary, the three large swimming pools on our campuses can be used as a source of sanitation water.”
In addition, the spring at the Sarah Bloch campus has been rehabilitated and it is yielding up to 2000 litres of water per day, which can be transferred between schools.
In February, the UHS school committee made the decision to cancel all water sports for the remainder of the first term.
Herzlia High School hosted a Water Summit — a student initiative for various schools, looking at how each school is managing the water crisis, sharing ideas and listening to guest speakers, all with the aim of avoiding Day Zero.
“A healthy and safe environment remains our priority. We have installed hand sanitisers in all our toilets and change rooms to prevent the spread of diseases.
This unprecedented crisis requires that we all do our share to avoid a long term catastrophe.”

Community Security Organisation
The Community Security Organisation (CSO)’s Director Dean Rosin says that “Whilst each communal organisation is looking inwards as to what they can individually do to prepare for the water crisis, it is up to the CSO to plan for the greater community. Alongside the City of Cape Town and our communal organisations, we are putting together a plan of action should Day Zero arrive.
“The CSO is currently conducting a communal survey sent through to all communal organisations to understand their capacity, requirements and individual plans, and this will help us put together our plan.”

Highlands House Aged Home
The Home has reduced its tap water and toilet flush pressure and is recycling grey water for toilet flushing and laundry washing (after filtration). They have reduced showering and the washing cycle of linen and towels and currently hold enough water for three days.
Said Director Harris Burman: said “Over the past few weeks, we have been meeting with the water inspector for our area to identify water saving methods such as using and recycling all grey water (at a cost to the Home).
“The Department of Water and Sanitation also met with us and stated that it would be highly improbable that our water would be cut off. We would still be limited to 50 litre per person per day limit. If we could not adhere to this limit, penalties would be imposed.
“It is thus inevitable that some of the methods that we are now going to have to adopt would have a direct impact on our residents.
Burman said that if anyone wanted to assist the Home, donations of five litre bottles of water would be appreciated. “The rest will have to be up to the staff and the residents acting responsibly at this time.”
Members of the Johannesburg Jewish community took up this call, aiming to fill two giant trucks with drinking water or grey water, which will be driven down to Cape Town and donated to Highlands House as well as other needy establishments.

Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies
The Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies has met with representatives from the City of Cape Town to discuss the water crisis and its response, says Director Joshua Hovsha. “We are currently surveying the needs of communal organisations and working with the City to ensure that we are fully prepared should Day Zero become a reality. We will also be working with the City on assisting with distribution and ensuring access to water for vulnerable groups and individuals within the city. Our focus will not simply be on Jewish people, but on assisting in areas where Jewish people happen to live.”
The Cape Board also hosted Deputy Mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Ian Nielsen to answer community concerns and questions regarding the water crisis, and shared details of the community response plan for Day Zero.
This included the information that there are 4500 vulnerable community members living on their own, including the elderly and people with disabilities.
The Board hopes to deliver a daily supply of five litre water bottles to each person — two litres for drinking and three litres for cooking, and to do this for at least three months, which would amount to 405 000 x five litre bottles.
There would need to be registration of vulnerable community members, registration of volunteers to deliver water, and using shuls as depots for collection.

Jewish Community Services (JCS)
JCS protects around 12 % of our Jewish community in Cape Town. “It is important for JCS to protect our most vulnerable clients,” says Marketing Manager Jessica Jedeikin. She thanked others in the community for thinking of others at a time when we are all feeling vulnerable. To get involved, ‘like’ the JCS H20 Facebook page, or Whatsapp group (see the barcode for this on the Facebook group). These forums will be continuously updated. To contribute further, you can drop off 5 litre bottles, hand sanitiser, paper plates and anything else you can think of that might assist daily functioning without the use of water. Drop off at JCS house (234 Upper Buitenkant Street). You can also sign up to assist in the delivery of 5 litre bottles in the cases of emergency. Stay tuned to find out selected drop off points in Cape Town that you will be able to drop five litre bottles at too, as this will make it easier for those in specific areas to arrange collection.

The Samson Centre and Hatfield Street Community Centre
These buildings house many communal organisations, and will stay open. They source underground water and use approximately 3500 litres per day for toilets and gardens. They have four water tanks installed and staff have brought their own bottled water for drinking should the taps run dry. Recyclable plates and cups are used to save washing crockery daily.

United Jewish Campaign (UJC)
In a message to the community, the UJC’s Director Barry Levitt said: “We’re all in this together. The UJC, as the Cape Town communal fundraising organisation that financially supports 32 beneficiaries in the city, has implemented serious water saving measures in both our fundraising efforts, as well as our day-to-day office practices. It is up to all of us, in our community organisations to save water. And it is up to all of us, to support each other in this time of need. It is important to stay connected to our community. In times of stress, it is critical we reach out to friends, family and colleagues to keep our ties strong and to ensure ongoing support for those most vulnerable.

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