Keeping it real, December 2020

By Stuart Diamond, Executive Director, Cape SAJBD

December is a reflective time of year in the Diamond household as we start to gear down towards our annual year-end break and we take stock of the year that was.

While my children judge their year on school reports, I reflect personally, professionally and communally, asking myself if I have played a role in making this community better. It is not lost on me that this time of reflection coincides with Chanukah; in fact, it reminds me to light my candles every day through the work that I do.

The start of 2020 saw the Jewish community responding in a collective voice to a global pandemic. It brought out the best of what the Cape Jewish community can be when we all align with a shared purpose. The challenge now is, how do we hold that shared purpose when the world throws divisive politics into the communal pot? Over the last few months, I have witnessed debates and discussions among our community members on social media platforms about a wide variety of difficult topics. Some of these discussions were constructive and engaging, and some turned divisive and ugly.

In 2020, I have seen cases of our community lifting each other higher than we ever thought possible, and tearing each other down to new depths. My message to our community stands firm. There is No Place for Hate and Words Matter.

Last year I wrote about how as Jews of Cape Town when we continue to choose to light our Chanukah candles in our daily lives we go a long way to fight back the divisive and hateful rhetoric that surrounds us. Ella Baker, one of the leading figures of the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s in the United States, said, “Give light and people will find the way”. In my personal life, my mother-in-law says; “Stu, give them light and love.” What Ella knew, and my mom-in-law knows, is that even a single candle has the power to destroy the darkness. It is our responsibility as a community to stand up and light that candle, not to step back and accept the dark the world so often throws at us.

It is in this spirit that the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies will launch its #wordsmatter programme in 2021. It is a terrible waste of potential for us to divide ourselves when the sum of all our parts is what makes us what we are; a unique and special community.

I would also like to shine some light on the Cape Council. To my professional team; Jodi, Gwynne, Tyla and Mathilde, I am deeply thankful for your commitment to ensuring that we at the Cape SAJBD continue to serve our community with innovation, care and passion.

May this be a year that we all light our candles and work harder to illuminate a positive future for our community.

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

Published in the print edition of the December 2020/January 2021 issue.
Download the Dec/Jan issue PDF here.

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