On precariousness, proactivity and pride

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By Stuart Diamond, Executive Director, Cape SAJBD

The 2020 year has not been an easy year for us, individually or as a community.

But it’s specifically when our backs are against the wall that we push back hardest and achieve our greatest communal feats. We should be proud of our achievements and the impact we have on society.

Every night between 7pm and 8pm is music hour in my house — a time when my wife and I get the house in order. I clean the kitchen with my headphones on and the volume turned up. This month’s repertoire has ranged from the musical Fiddler on the Roof all the way to Tom Petty; and they have, in their unique ways, left me inspired to ensure that the Cape Council’s work is not only about responding to issues of antisemitism but inviting us to step up proactively and be #PROUDJEWS.

In the story Fiddler on the Roof, set in 1905 in the small town of Anatevka in Tsarist Russia. Tevye, a poor milkman, and his wife Golde contend with marrying their three eldest daughters, Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava, while attempting to hold on to their ancient Jewish traditions in the face of the changing times that lead to the Russian revolution.

Here is South Africa our country and community face their own issues, yet we have built a strong base with strong communal structures that we should be proud of. In the opening of Fiddler, Tevye refers to the idea of a Fiddler, balancing precariously on the roof. In engagements with our stakeholders, I often hear a similar message of our community being in the balance and how one wrong step could result in a terrible fall.

The other song that I have been reflecting on is the message of defiance against unnamed forces of difficulty and oppression, in the mid-tempo song by the late Tom Petty titled I Won’t Back Down.

The lyrics go:
Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
in a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
but I’ll stand my ground, and I won’t back down


The song inspires me to ensure that we as a community stand up proactively, raise our voices and ensure that as Jews we can live our best lives, proud of the contribution we make to the Cape landscape.

Fiddler on the Roof reminds us of the vital importance of Jews being reliant on tradition and faith in times of change and turbulence. The COVID-19 pandemic has shook our foundations and now we must slowly rise and regain our stability.

In line with this, the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies will start the #PROUDJEWS campaign where our communal members and affiliates will be given the opportunity to highlight proactively the positives of our Cape Jewish community. I will be stepping up as a #PROUDJEW, will you?

Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies website: www.capesajbd.org, Instagram, and Facebook page.

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