Appreciating what we have, and working hard to retain this!

By Daniel Bloch, Executive Director, Cape SAJBD

We often take for granted the life we live and what we have. 

More often than not, we probably don’t thank those around us for everything we have. There will always be someone else who has less than we do, and whilst your life may seem dark and possibly in the doldrums, believe me when I tell you that you are probably better off than most people. 

In December, I was part of two initiatives that truly echoed that point and put my life into perspective. On 16 December, the Day of Reconciliation, I took my family with me on a District Six Reconciliation Day Interfaith Walk. Along with 50 other men, women and children from a variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds, we walked down Hanover Road, stopped at Krotoa (which is a religious site for the Khoi), and ended up at the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. The purpose of the walk was to remember the atrocities of Apartheid and the impact of District Six, as well as engage in dialogue with other interfaith and intercommunity members to discuss how we can ‘heal’ South Africa, and more importantly, the Western Cape, whilst also ensuring that we never commit the same mistakes as in the past. Reflecting on the past, we realise how fortunate we are to be living in 2023 (it was 2022 at the time).

Fast forward a week and I was honoured to attend a pre-screening of the documentary film about Ella Blumenthal, I am Here. This film follows Ella’s incredible journey through the Holocaust, how she overcame the most horrific part of her life, how she found the courage to carry on, retain her belief in Hashem and more incredibly, her ability to forgive those responsible for these heinous acts of crime. Again, it was an opportunity for me to reflect and realise how fortunate I am to enjoy the life I have, and to not take anything for granted. More importantly, Ella demonstrated something truly remarkable. In order to move on, one must forgive. 

Another incredible human being who shared the same belief was Nelson Mandela. I took my family on a tour of Robben Island — to be honest, I had never been. This is something every South African should do at least once. What Mandela and others went through to attain freedom and equality for all is inspiring, and we should never forget their struggles. 

During the first two initiatives, I was joined by members of the Cape SAJBD. This has further inspired us to work harder in the coming months to ensure that we have a stronger and more connected community. We want to connect with as many as possible of the 13 000 Jews living in the Western Cape. We will be working closely with other Jewish organisations and partners to create opportunities for engagement and dialogue within the community; and we encourage you to engage with us as this is also your community and you should be an active citizen — have your say!

Whilst it is important to remember the past, we should also be working towards the future. We should be creating opportunities for our children, inspiring the youth of today to take the next step in leadership, and we should be including everyone in everything we do, including those members of our community who are not at a Jewish school or members of a shul. The more we connect with each other, the stronger our community can become.

Compliments of the season to everyone and wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2023.

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

• Published in the February 2023 Digital Edition – Click here to read it.

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