Humans, we come in peace!

By Daniel Bloch, Executive Director, Cape SAJBD

“Social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and actually improve our immune systems. By neglecting our need to connect, we put our health at risk.” — Canadian Mental Health Association 2019

For many of us it’s been a long time since we last saw another human being in person — nowdays meeting face-to-face with clients and partners may seem a bit alien! It’s like riding a bike though — you will never forget how. Just get out there, keep your mask on, socially distance and take it one conversation at a time (with a good cup of coffee in hand).

Communication has always been a key strength of mine. Over the years I have learnt to effectively communicate with people by doing two things — listen to what the other person is saying, and read their body language. This has allowed me to identify a problem and ultimately find a solution. Being separated by a screen has made this more challenging. Switching off your camera during a Zoom session or only sending an email can be misinterpreted — words can get lost in translation. I know I have sent my fair share of emails where the tone may seem rude or even condescending, yet that has never been the intention.

As humans, we crave interaction with others and we long to engage in meaningful discussion. That is why it is important for us to start engaging once again in face-to-face discussions.

September and October were certainly exciting months at the Board. Aside from spending time in shul with family and friends celebrating the Yomtavim, we arranged the Board’s first in-person functions since COVID-19 began. On Thursday, 23 September, we hosted our Sukkat Shalom with 30 partner organisations from various interfaith groups, foreign national communities and political parties. It was invaluable to meet with partners, the greater community and see colleagues who we had not seen in almost two years. We had discussions about our community, the role of the Board and how we can work together to improve intercultural relationships in the Western Cape.

On Sunday, 10 October, we hosted five political parties as part of a Local Elections Debate which was broadcast live on eNCA. Why did we facilitate this debate? The answer is simple. In order to affect change in our community and the greater Western Cape, we need to become active citizens, engage with our provincial leaders and hold them accountable. Building and maintaining relationships within our community as well as with other religious and cultural groups, is an integral role of the Board’s mandate.

We will continue to Connect with people, Collaborate on projects and protect our Community!

“Human connection is the exchange of positive energy between people. The potential of feeling understood and united through human connection is one of the most rewarding elements in life. It has the power to deepen the moment and the bond between people, inspire change and build trust.” — The Pangean

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

• Published in the PDF edition of the November 2021 issue – Click here to get it.

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