Farewell thoughts after a remarkable year

By Esta Levitas, Chairman, SAZF Cape Council

To have served as Chairperson of the SA Zionist Federation (Cape Council) for the past year, has enabled me to serve a cause greater than myself, and removed me from the focus on myself and my issues. I owe a deep sense of gratitude to the Mancom committee, which lent me unstinting support and service and helped us in pursuit of achieving our goals.

The late senator John McCain once said that “The richest men and women possess nothing of real value if their lives have no greater object than themselves,” Barack Obama speaking to students said “It’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realise your true potential and discover the role that you’ll play in writing the next great chapter in the American story.”

The past year was a year like no other in living memory and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely forever change the way in which we live our lives and operate within society. As an organisation, the SA Zionist Federation needed to re-invent itself in order to remain relevant. Instead of withdrawing into splendid isolation, it used all the benefits bestowed by technology to stay in touch with its constituency through a series of webinars presented by outstanding teachers and leaders from all over the world. All these presenters partook in the spirit of volunteerism and donated their honorariums to the outreach projects of the SA Zionist Federation (Cape Council).

Over the past several months we have also worked very hard to ensure that new shlichim will be joining us in Cape Town next year and also focused a lot of attention and effort into the Israel-related education at the schools.

Taking care of those less fortunate has been a real focus. Through JCS and Highlands House we were able to provide food parcels and really look after those in our own community. In the broader community, the work of SAFI has not stopped and countless families and individuals have been provided with food hampers. SAFI joined forces with local churches and pastors to try to support and take care of some of the most vulnerable in our city. Under trying circumstances the work of Diller has flourished unbelievably and our P2G Partnership activities continued as well.

Despite the restrictions that lockdown imposed, the work of the SAZF (Cape Council) has been wide and varied and has contributed greatly to communal life.

Critical to all the work that was accomplished by the SAZF were the staff: Natasha, Yvette, Galya, Maxine, Sharon and Martine; ably led for the past 12 years by Julie Berman. Julie will be making Aliyah at the end of the year and a new start as Director will be made by Chaya Singer. I want to thank all the staff for their unstinting efforts and for the support they afforded me and wish Julie fulfilment on her new beginning in Israel and Chaya great success in her challenging new role.

The past year has radically transformed the neighbourhood around Israel. There is a new paradigm in which Israel is no longer the problem, but rather the problem solver. Moderate Arab states have come to the realisation that Iran and its proxies pose a real and existential threat to many of their governments and way of life and that the challenges can be mitigated by aligning themselves with Israel. No longer does the centrality of the Palestinian issue loom large which has always in the past blocked any progress to recognising Israel. There is now no room for Palestinian rejectionism and they must at last bear the responsibility of not walking away from direct negotiations with Israel. My sincere hope is that these momentous changes will lead to ‘a mantle of peace’ being spread over all the peoples of the region.

SA Zionist Federation – Cape Council – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Website: www.sazfcape.co.za

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