Our community is unique.
I think we may have hit some kind of sweet spot. Not too many Jews that we lose our intimate connections but not so few that we feel like a homogenous glob. Just enough to keep the faribles juicy and the Shabbos guest lists on comfortable rotation.
I went to the same school as my husband for the whole of Middle and High School and didn’t meet him or even know he existed in that entire time. While this may inadvertently say more about my powers of observation than the possibility of still meeting new people in our community, my point is that even when you think you know everyone, there is a chance you may still meet a ‘new Jew’ in Cape Town.
Just as we think we know everyone in this city, we find ourselves in a new setting and voilà, new connections (and shidduchs, and besties) can be made.
I have long enjoyed tying golden threads through our community. Sometimes the golden threads that connect us are thin and hardly noticeable. Sometimes they are thick and ornate. They may change over time, but they are there.
I like to play a game in shul where I look around and link each person I see with my imaginary golden thread; if I know their names, I use those, otherwise I refer to them by how I know them. And it’s quite comforting and meditative. “There’s Sarah, and Liat and the lady who commented on the fried fish last week, and her sister, and so and so’s wife and their daughter in my eldest’s year at school and the lady who always wishes me Good Shabbos with such a big smile…” you get the picture.
I feel quite cosseted in my community when I tie us all together as best I know how from my point of view — and I love being able to add people with whom I have made new connections.
The Leadership Course I’m on has also introduced me to many people I didn’t know, or thought I knew, but didn’t really. As well as some I only knew by name, and others I only knew as ‘people you may know’ on Facebook. Golden threads are not without their surprises; like when I excitedly introduced a most lovely new person I had met on my course to my mother, and they both looked at each other and laughed because they work together every day and we were all unaware of our connections.
How I wish there was a way to actually see each thread as I tie them around us, this symbolic connection we all share; friends, families, co-workers, acquaintances. Some golden threads thicker than others, all winding around the Cape Town Jewish community. Perhaps I will see them on Kol Nidrei night as we stand in our shuls and, as one voice, ask for our prayers to be heard, regardless of our level of observance. Perhaps we will feel these golden threads as we marvelling at meeting a ‘new Jew’ at a Yom Tov dinner, or in sharing a complimented recipe with an acquaintance. Let’s tie golden threads, through kindness, friendliness, openness and non-judgement until we are all connected perceptibly in myriad ways.
On behalf of my chairman, editorial board, and my incredible team, Tessa, Anita and Desrae, I wish you all G’mar Chatima Tova, may you be written for a sweet new year and may all the threads you tie in 5779 be golden ones.