Light at the end of the tunnel

By Daniel Bloch, Executive Director, Cape SAJBD

It’s been an extremely long year and I am so tired. I am tired of talking about COVID-19, lockdown, Zoom and South Africa’s downward spiral. After such a dismal year, there has to be some light at the end of the tunnel? Let’s leave the darkness of 2021 behind and focus on what can be an incredibly prosperous 2022.

Over the past year, our community has endured many challenges, one of them being shrinking numbers due to emigration and Aliyah. However, as Howard Sackstein said at our Cape SAJBD annual conference, “We have an unbelievable thriving community of 12 000 and will continue to have a thriving community even if it decreases to 10 000 or 8 000 people.” The shrinking numbers shouldn’t dictate how we live and how vibrant our community can be. Those of us who choose to stay in Cape Town will need to work hard to ensure our way of life continues, and that our Judaism flourishes.

Also, during our annual conference, Standard Bank’s Senior Political Economist, Simon Freemantle, shared some insight and observations regarding the recent anarchy which unfolded in parts our country. Despite the many challenges we face, Mr Freemantle was able to offer an extremely positive outlook for South Africa — one of hope, growth and prosperity — out of the darkness and into the light. We were also able to hear from some amazing members of our community as to why they are staying put and investing in the Western Cape. Not everyone is fleeing the country for the so-called ‘greener pastures’. Many of us are staying right here and together with our community, we will build an incredible life for our families filled with opportunities and endless possibilities. I know it sounds too good to be true and some people may say I am being naive — however I am a glass-half-full-kind-of-guy. As Monty Python says, “Always look on the bright side of life.”

Speaking of darkness, Eskom and lights, it is fitting that we will be celebrating Chanukah — the festival of lights. Chanukah is one of my family’s favourite holidays. We enjoy huddling around the Chanukkiah, lighting the candles and singing Ma’oz tsur and Haneirot Halalu. My kids love singing the songs however I am sure they love eating the doughnuts more! To be honest, I also enjoy eating a doughnut or two.

Chanukah is a story of hope and miracles. The Maccabees defeated the Greeks against all odds, and they were able to keep the Menorah alight for eight days with only one day’s worth of oil available. We all know the full story but how can we relate the story of Chanukah to our current lives?

For starters, the Maccabees had no electricity — fairly similar to our current situation. They were a minority fighting against a formidable enemy — on a daily basis we fight against another formidable enemy called antisemitism. One day we too will be victorious. The Maccabees never lost faith in Hashem and were rewarded with the miracle of Chanukah. We too have not lost our faith in Hashem and continue to practice our Judaism each and every day.

Just like the Maccabees were able to overcome insurmountable odds, our community too will endure and move forward. We will find our little bit of oil and keep the lights going for many a year to come (despite Eskom’s best efforts to challenge this).

Chanukah Sameach!

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

• Published in the PDF edition of the December 2021/January 2022 issue – Click here to get it.

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