In early 2015, there was a serious horrific attacks against immigrants in South Africa. On behalf of the Jewish community of Cape Town, I wrote the following press statement:
Our hearts go out to the families of those who have been murdered and to those who have been displaced and terrorised in the recent harrowing xenophobic attacks.
Cruelty to other human beings on the basis of their ethnic origin flies in the face of the Bible’s teaching that every person is created in G-d’s image and must be accorded dignity and respect. As Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague writes ‘when one loves G-d, it is impossible not to love Hs creations.’ May our love for God inspire us toward a renewed love for every human being, each of whom has a role in bringing the world to the state for which we yearn when, in the words of Isaiah, ‘Nation will not take up sword against nation’.
On Saturday 23rd May, faith leaders and members of the various faith communities gathered in Khayelitsha to continue the protest against xenophobic prejudice. As it was Shabbat, I was not able to attend but I sent this prayer to be read out. The prayer is, in large part, based on a prayer written by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein.
Ribbonno Shel Olam, Master of the Universe,
As we observe our Sabbath Day today, we remember that we must balance our creative activity of the six days of the week with Shabbat on which we intensify our soulful connection with You and with human beings, who are made in Your image.
O Lord, help us to continue to respect one another and see Your image on the face of each and every person.
Guide and inspire us to show the world how people of diverse colours, cultures, creeds and countries can live together in harmony and respect.
The rainbow was designated by You as a symbol of hope for the world after the enormous destruction of the flood, and it was also adopted as a symbol of the aspirations of our very own Rainbow Nation that emerged with such dignity from the destruction of Apartheid.
Guide us, o Lord, in order that we do not stumble, and forget that the hope of humankind is encapsulated in the rainbow – the hope which is the power of Your covenant to uplift humanity and liberate it from the shackles of hatred and bigotry.
We humbly acknowledge before you o God, that the South African Dream of the Rainbow Nation, united in diversity, diverse in its unity, is in fact the vision and the dream expressed by Your great prophet Isaiah, who said that one day “many nations will go up to the Mountain of God”, and that “they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift sword against nation and neither will they learn war anymore”. Peace, he promised us, will prevail and “the wolf will lie down with the lamb … for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of God as water covering the sea.”
Bless us, o Lord, with peace, and help us to fulfil, once again, the great promise of our country, and of our continent which has suffered so much for so long, and, indeed, that of the entire world, which waits for us to show the way.
May this be Your will, and let us say Amen.