By Daniel Bloch, Executive Director, Cape SAJBD
What are the top five things you talk about around the Shabbos table or when you are out with friends?
I am willing to bet my bottom dollar (stole that line from a movie) that the list of topics includes load-shedding, petrol prices, the state of our government, where are our kids going to study and inevitably these all lead into that one big discussion — should we stay or should we go? One positive aspect to draw from this seemingly negative paragraph is that COVID no longer features — some good news.
People are leaving Cape Town for places like Israel, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States for a variety of reasons which include study opportunities for their children, a better life for their family, job security, low crime rates and more. The grass is not always greener on the other side. In fact, the grass in Cape Town is quite lush and green and there are still opportunities for us all. I know that some of you may be reading this thinking — what does he know? Is he naïve? What about corruption, crime, load-shedding, etc?
While I don’t discount these issues, it is clear that many members of our community are leaving, and there are people making the move to Cape Town from Johannesburg and abroad — the question is why? There are loads of reasons why Cape Town is an amazing place to work, live and play, and it is our duty to be active citizens and promote our amazing community.
Since the start of the year, my colleagues and I have been working on a semigration project which is now gaining traction and buy-in from our community, as well as our partners in the Western Cape Government. Semigration means movement from one part of a country to another (as opposed to emigration, which is migration to another country). We intend to attract Jewish families and individuals to come and live in Cape Town.
Many of us live a good life in Cape Town and benefit from our incredible Jewish community. We have amazing schools, shuls, restaurants, a network of organisations that look after Jews, places of community education and much more. Cape Town also has one of the lowest rates of antisemitism anywhere in the world. In today’s society with the spike in global antisemitism, this is fast becoming a determining factor for many Jewish families as to where the safest place is to live.
The city of Cape Town has received many accolades over the past few years, and was rated the third best city in the world to live in, after Barcelona and Sydney. Service-delivery, infrastructure, weather, business, tourism and the promise of becoming the technology capital of South Africa are all factors that contribute to this impressive rating. Yes, we have problems. However, the leaders within the Western Cape are trying to rectify these problems and are starting to make positive changes.
Unless Manchester United offer me the position of manager, my family and I will be staying in Cape Town for the foreseeable future. I will be doing my utmost to ensure that our community provides the resources, support systems and opportunities for as many Jewish families and individuals as possible to prosper and live a happy life in Cape Town. Let’s focus on all the good things our community has to offer, and spend our time spreading positive messages rather than complaining. Being an active citizen means working together towards a brighter future for all. Let’s all play our part!