Forty years

By Desrae Saacks, Editor Cape Jewish Chronicle

The number forty is significant in Judaism. 

Forty years of wandering in the desert; 40 days spent by Moses on Mount Sinai; the Flood lasted 40 days and nights; the mikveh must be filled with 40 se’ahs (a measure of water); according to the Talmud it takes 40 days for an embryo to be formed in the womb; in Kabbalah, 40 represents the four sides of the world, each side containing the ten Sefirot (esoteric powers); there are 40 days between the first day of Elul and Yom Kippur — the annual teshuva (repentance) period. According to the Talmud (Avot 5:26), at age 40 a person transitions from one level of wisdom to the next. 

I have been responsible for the layout of the CJC for the last 22 years. And for the last twenty-two February issues (we don’t publish in January), I have been changing the volume number in the masthead on page 1. This number reflects the number of years that the publication has been in existence — so Volume 1 would have been the first year. This year I updated it to Volume 40! 

In other words, The CJC has just entered its fortieth year! Forty years since Irma Chait (z”l) and her team produced the first Cape Jewish Chronicle in November 1984. 

The Cape Jewish Chronicle was there for the end of Apartheid, the fall of the Berlin wall and of the Soviet Union, 9/11 (I could go on…). The CJC has witnessed the advent of emails, cellphones, the internet, social media, digital printing and AI; and expanded its vocabulary to include words such as load-shedding and Covid. 

Forty years is somewhere between one and two generations. That means that you, our audience, have also changed. While some of you have been with us for the whole ride, others were not even born when this journey began. 

These forty years have produced a colourful record of the social and communal history of the Cape Town Jewish community, and a window onto our changing world. The Gitlin Library and the CJC office each houses a set of bound volumes of all print editions of the CJC; and work is currently underway to include digital copies of these to the The Jewish Living Archive (see page 22 or click here). 

In Judaism, the number forty is seen to represent growth, development and arrival at a new level of maturity. I look forward to seeing what the next forty years bring.

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

• To advertise in the Cape Jewish Chronicle and on this website – kindly contact Lynette Roodt on 021 464 6736 or email For more information and advertising rate card click here.

Sign up for our newsletter and never miss another issue.

• Please support the Cape Jewish Chronicle with a voluntary Subscription for 2023. For payment info click here.

Visit our Portal to the Jewish Community to see a list of all the Jewish organisations in Cape Town with links to their websites.

Follow the Cape Jewish Chronicle: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here