By Karen Marsden Sank
2021 has been a challenging year for all. Reflecting back on the past 12 months, the SA Zionist Federation has had a year marked with many changes and challenges, but also by many unexpected opportunities and promises of an exciting, new chapter.
Our South African Jewish community as well as Jewish-owned businesses, who have faced ongoing social media attacks as a result of recent conflict within Israel, have remained a priority on our agenda.
Despite the challenges of this year, we recorded the highest number of Aliyah from South Africa in 25 years. We have witnessed a community coming together in times of crisis. This cohesion has ensured that as a community, we remain resilient, connected and committed. As the numbers of our community drop to just 12 000, this has made us even more passionate and conscious of the incredible role we as a community have to play in the Diaspora.
As we reach the last month of 2021, we are grateful for the experience of celebrating the Ethiopian Jewish festival of Sigd which Batya and Hed, our Shlichim, introduced to our community for the first time. This created an amazing connection amongst the members of our community. The celebrations included early morning davening on Signal Hill and a week full of activities throughout all the Cape Town Jewish day schools.
These festivities culminated with our first in-person event — an exceptional evening of food, music and storytelling at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market. This event celebrated the rich culture of the Beta Israel community, and gave us an opportunity to introduce our leadership as well as the Shmuelis to the community. It was wonderful to see people relaxed, chatting and enjoying themselves at what was for many their first social engagement. Let this be the beginning of many more exciting events to come. All this could not be done without the support of our generous donors. Four excited guests went home already planning when to use their air tickets to Israel, generously donated by Fairmount World Travel and Air Ethiopia.
Before the year comes to a close, we look forward to celebrating Channukah with our SAFI partners and friends where again, for the first time this year, we will be able to introduce our new lay leadership in person to our Christian friends, and show thanks and support for all that they do, driven by their love for the State of Israel.
With that, we bring the year to a close with unity, understanding, compassion, and hope.
• Published in the PDF edition of the December 2021/January 2022 issue – Click here to get it.
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