Lighting a candle with the president

By Tzvi Brivik

Our community was offered the opportunity to honour the memory of those healthcare workers who lost their lives to COVID-19 by lighting a candle.

The invitation was received directly from the office of the Presidency to the Cape SAJBD. A decision was made to hold the ceremony at the Khayelitsha District Hospital in recognition of the service of those brave nurses and doctors working for this severely affected portion of our community.

To ensure that the Adjusted Level 3 travel and curfew restrictions were not infringed upon, the ceremony was held at 19:45. In attendance were President Cyril Ramaphosa, Premier Alan Winde, MEC for Health Nomafrench Mbombo and Deputy MEC for Safety and Security. Alongside me representing the Jewish community, there were representatives of the Khoisan community, Anglican community, Catholic community and the chairman of the Muslim Judicial Council Shayk Irafaan Abrahams also attended.

The prayer I offered on behalf of the Jewish community recognised those lives lost, and pleads for the end of the pandemic and ways forward for our country. The ceremony itself was very intimate, as a gathering of no more than 50 people was allowed. The President gave a moving address honouring fallen healthcare workers and recognising the government’s failure to provide PPE and support to those health workers. The President also discussed the purchase of vaccines and affirmed the government’s support for health workers.

After the ceremony, candles were lit by President Ramaphosa, the MEC for Health Mbombo, Premier Winde and the representatives of the various faiths. We at the Cape SAJBD are grateful to have had the opportunity to join the ceremony and bring in 2021 with other faiths and elected leaders of our government. We hope that this year will see an end to the loss of life and economic decline.

This invitation from the President’s office also recognised the vital role the Cape SAJBD occupies in representing our community in civil society and ensuring an ongoing dialogue with all branches of government. Our role is critical in safeguarding our community’s civil rights and facilitating an exchange of ideas and concerns.

The prayer which I offered included the following:

“All in Heaven and Earth acknowledge Your kingship and authority, and in Your hands is the soul of all living and the spirit within all flesh, and it is in your power and strength to nurture and strengthen and cure humanity to the utmost, and nothing is beyond Your ability. This prayer stands for all of us for the year 2021 and we hope that our prayers are heard.”

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

Published in the print edition of the February 2021 issue. Download the February 2021 issue PDF here.

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