By Justin Asher
I recently wrote an open letter to United Herzlia Schools and was incredibly overwhelmed by the encouraging and positive response I received from the alumni, teachers and current parents. It drove my desire to join the Cape Jewish Board of Deputies and reignited my will to influence our community.
But this isn’t about me, or my letter. This is about the opportunity we have ahead of ourselves to go into the Jewish new year with a completely new mindset – one which is filled with tolerance, positivity and the ability to listen and be heard.
I have watched throughout the last five months as our country’s (unexplainable) lockdown set our lives on fire. From losing jobs, income and even people of our country, you would be forgiven for waking up mid-August and thinking you were experiencing an apocalypse. Fair enough, we adopted the hard stance on our lockdown to save lives and we battled through everything life tossed our way. Some lost loved ones while others watched as years and years of hard work and savings dissipated before their eyes.
But through this unprecedented confinement, I have noticed how negative we became toward each other. I noticed how intolerant we were toward someone else’s opinion – just because it didn’t connect with our own. I became aware just how much we don’t like to discuss and debate while most importantly, closer to home, where our own community began to turn on each other, I noticed that even at the most trying times of our lives — we wanted to be heard, but refused to listen.
So as we welcome in a fresh new year, and you dip those apples in honey, consider how you personally can approach the upcoming year with fresh ideas, fresh ways of thinking and fresh (but positive) attitudes toward your Jewish peers. Let’s embrace the concept of tolerance and come together to build a society wherein everyone is included – and not divided.
Together, let’s find our chutzpah.
Justin Asher is one of the new faces on the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies. He aims to use this opportunity to engage, acknowledge and represent the young (16 – 45) Jewish members of the Cape Town community.
Click here to read the other Brave new year to… opinion pieces in this year’s Rosh Hashana theme.
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