Greetings and Jewish goodbyes!

By Daniel Bloch, Executive Director, Cape SAJBD

A short while ago I heard a joke told by the late Jackie Mason. 

The punchline of the joke was as follows (and I quote): “Non-Jews leave without saying goodbye. Jewish people say goodbye without leaving!” At the time I could not stop laughing — this was truly a funny joke and quite accurate. It does seem to be in our genes that when leaving any function or service, Jews feel the need to have to say goodbye to any and everyone we see. I know that I build in a good 10 — 15 minutes of goodbye time at any function, whether it be social or business. 

During the month of April, I was fortunate enough to attend, connect and engage with several thousand members of our community by attending a wedding in Oudtshoorn, a bar mitzvah in Sea Point, our Yom HaShoah service at Pinelands cemetery, Yom Hazikaron at the Herzlia High School and Yom Ha’atzmaut at the Green Point Cricket Club. Each function can best be described as unique — the setting, the people I engaged with and the conversations held were all unique. The one constant thing was the goodbyes. 

At each event, I planned on leaving at a certain time and inevitably left 15 to 20 minutes later. The last time I played a cricket match at Green Point Cricket Club, it took me five minutes to walk to and from the pitch — I left with nothing but a duck to my name. Leaving Yom Ha’atzmaut at the same venue took me 35 minutes and I left with several bags of food, candles and jewellery all purchased on the evening.

Is it so bad that we take so long to say goodbye? Surely it means that we know lots of people and that many people know who we are? We should feel lucky that we have so many family and friends still living in Cape Town, that we cannot leave a function without diving into a variety of conversations. It is quite amazing that only when you leave a function, do you get asked questions about your family, what job you are doing, why are you at this particular function and “did you hear what happened to so and so last week” (we do love a
good gossip). 

I think that Jewish goodbyes are important, as we are able to connect with people. During most functions, we don’t get to talk to everyone and in some cases, we didn’t even know someone was there. However, when we leave, we manage to see almost everyone, say goodbye, start up a conversation and then say goodbye again. 

I have learnt about the importance of greeting people from my father. He is usually the last one to leave Shul as he is too busy saying goodnight to everyone in the vicinity. We always ask him if he plans on locking up the shul!? My father also thinks it is equally important to greet people and during every Shabbat service, he introduces himself to visitors attending the shul — “it is important to make people feel welcomed”. These visitors enjoy the service and make it a point to come to my father to say goodbye — something they would not have done had he not made the first move.

If everyone could simply greet each other and give a proper goodbye, perhaps people would be nicer to one another. Next time you are out and about, remember to say hello to the people you meet and take your time saying goodbye. You may be pleasantly surprised by the reactions you receive.

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

• Published in the PDF edition of the June 2022 issue – Click here to read it.

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