exploring the concerns of the south african jewish community
Jacqui Benson reflects on the deep challenges still faced by the LGBTQIA+ community in South Africa, and calls on Jewish South Africans to better understand what it means to be 'allies' to the LGBTQIA+ community.
17 May marks International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. On that day this year I stood on Monwabisi Beach in Khayelitsha with approximately 40 others at a memorial organized by Triangle Project. We were there to honour and commemorate ten of our fellow ‘siblings’ of the LGBTQIA+ ‘family’, who, since 12 February 2021, had been violently murdered simply because of their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity.
Since the 17 May the number of victims, ranging in age from 22 to 48, now stands at 14.
Of the 40 people present, and amongst a handful of other white people, I was one of two Jews.
Why is this relevant?
"In the Jewish community, discrimination shows up as a veil of silence, the things we do not talk about, the ‘unmentionables.’ "
HE was the hardest of taskmasters, the severest of critics! Half a lifetime of religious leadership, communal, interfaith, welfare and educational work had instilled in Rabbi Cyril Harris the positive belief that if you worked for any community, in whatever capacity, making you responsible for the care and development of others, you had to strive to produce the best service possible - and to make sure that you took the opportunity to train, train, and train again so that up-to-date theories and skills would automatically become part of your effort.
"... his [Rabbi Harris] practical teachings of the principles of Jewish ethics, what he called “The Jewish Obligation to the Non-Jew”, are probably even more relevant in a Covid challenged world than they were twenty years ago."