Ready Set Go!!

By Daniel Bloch, Executive Director, Cape SAJBD

Studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and mental health benefits.

People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals.

I was fortunate enough to have two weeks of holiday to spend with my family. We sat by the pool soaking up the sun, enjoyed a beach picnic or two, spent a few days camping in nature with friends and generally enjoyed a calm and relaxing time in each other’s company — exactly the kind of tonic needed to reboot the system.

Taking a holiday does not necessarily mean getting on a plane and flying somewhere exotic — although most of us secretly wish for this. For me, a holiday means being somewhere with little to no cell phone signal, and not knowing what time of day it is. This for me was the highlight of my holiday as we spent four fantastic days in Swellendam, camping along the Breede River. Time didn’t seem to matter and Facebook wouldn’t load. This also presented an invaluable opportunity for me to connect with my family, and for us to spend quality time enjoying each others’ company. I discovered that my daughter is completely fearless and has no qualms hopping on a floatie and sailing down a water rapid, whilst my son is happy to float in the river for hours chatting with his mate. Neither of them needed or missed any technology and to be honest, neither did my wife and I.

After spending the past few weeks connecting with my family and recharging my batteries, I am ready to start connecting again with our community. The first eight months of my tenure as Executive Director of the Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies have flown by, with a number of significant successes having been achieved. If you thought that navigating through the May conflict or safely steering through the 3rd and 4th waves of COVID-19 would be the pinnacle, then you would be incorrect. It’s the issues that don’t make the headlines that are the victories that will be most appreciated by the community.

For example, Stellenbosch University has created a document which states that no exam or test will be set over Pesach, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The University will also try to avoid setting exams over Shabbos where possible. This has been a real issue in the past with Jewish students having to miss exams due to Yom Tov. At least now, students can plan to spend Pesach and Rosh Hashanah with their families and not worry about exams over these times. There have also been many behind-the-scene conversations, meetings and letters written to organisations defending the rights of our community, and ensuring we can practice our Judaism in a safe and secure environment. These initiatives often go unnoticed but it is important to understand the work the Board does — we don’t always post everything on Facebook.

2022 will bring with it new opportunities and possibly similar challenges, and we will embrace these opportunities and tackle the challenges head-on. We will continue to stand up for our Jewish Community’s rights, protect our children attending Jewish and non-Jewish institutions, educate our non-Jewish partners about the role of our community, provide support to those communities in need, and ultimately demonstrate how pivotal the Jewish community is to the growth and sustainability of the Western Cape.

Here’s to a healthy, prosperous and incident-free 2022. May all of us experience nothing but simchas and good times!

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

• Published in the PDF edition of the February 2022 issue – Click here to get it.

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