exploring the concerns of the south african jewish community
In this article, Lance Katz analyses some of the potential consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the South African Jewish community.
I write this during South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown. At the time of writing this article, so much is still unknown about COVID-19 and its potential long-term impact. Officially, the global pandemic has already infected over 1,2 million people and claimed over 65 500 lives (5.5%). The United States now has the highest confirmed infection count in the world at 300 000. Healthcare systems in European countries such as Italy and Spain are overwhelmed. Thus far, South Africa has just under 1 600 reported cases nationally and only 9 deaths. Israel, which was quick to implement protective measures and which have steadily ramped these up, now has nearly 8 000 reported cases, 46 deaths and 127 people in critical condition. Things are changing so rapidly that by the time you read this article, the above statistics will have altered materially.
Against this backdrop I was asked to offer some thoughts on the impact of COVID-19 on the Jewish community. For this purpose I have taken Jewish community to mean local, that being the Cape Town Jewish Community. However, of course much of what I write is equally applicable to the Jewish Community of South Africa more broadly and to other Jewish communities globally. Instead of employing my rusty actuarial skills to try and project my own scenario about how COVID-19 is going to play out, I decided that it would be more beneficial rather to share a few reflections and general thoughts on the question of community impact, both currently and going forward.
"Our fate and fortunes as a Jewish community are perhaps more strongly tied to those of our fellow countrymen than ever before."