Unity through adversity

For my View from the Chair this month, I would like to share some of President Rivlin’s words from his address to the nation of Israel at the end of March.

Even though his speech was made over a month ago, his words remain important and are words that we in South Africa can take encouragement and inspiration from.

“We are in complex and difficult times for Israel’s leaders, Israeli society and as part of the family of nations. At a time when here, in the State of Israel, we are burying our dead simply, holding weddings without guests, closing yeshivot and synagogues, schools and universities; in these moments of crisis, we must also learn the art of obedience. To follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health, to follow the instructions of the government, to follow the instructions of the emergency and rescue forces. Even if we criticize the instructions, and even if we think they are wrong, we must listen to them and carry them out.

And yet, despite the deep fissure between the camps and despite the ferocious rhetoric between the sides, I know that the vast majority of Israel’s leadership, from left and from right, knows that it is the duty of every one of us to obey the rulings of the courts, and that it is inconceivable that anyone would not do so. Join together for the good of the Israeli people. If not now, when?

My fellow Israeli citizens, once I was a young man and now I am old. As a child I personally experienced the siege of Jerusalem. As a people and as a nation, we have known the most severe moments of existential threat, and we beat them. I have no doubt in my heart that today, too, if we hold fast to public and personal responsibility and to the mutual obligations we have to each other, we can beat this.

We will overcome and will come out of this stronger. Take care of yourselves and of those around you.

God bless you”

Israel is a tiny country that has against all odds continued to grow and flourish. Despite constant adversity, Israel has been determined to love life and make positive contributions to the world through medicine, technology and beyond. Israel is a country that we can and should look to during times of trouble.

At the time of writing, we find ourselves in a dire situation. South Africa is on lockdown and this invisible enemy named Corona is spreading across the globe like a plague, leaving sickness and death in its wake. I don’t know what our reality will be when this goes to print, but the call from President Rivlin to put our differences aside and work for the common good is a call we should heed at all times. In the Psalms, HaShem reminds us that where there is unity, He commands a blessing (Psalm 133). Whether we are fighting Corona or not, may we always seek to be families that are united, a community that is united and a country that is united for in this unity we will be blessed, we will overcome and we will grow and flourish.

By Esta Levitas, Chairman, SAZF Cape Council

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