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EDITORIAL

FAREWELL, SHALOM

By Prof Antony Arkin

I had hoped to be writing my last editorial after putting together the 100th anniversary edition of Hashalom in 2023, to match the 80th commemorative publication I put together in 2003. However, this month Marion and I will be making Aliyah and joining our family in Israel.

Physically, Hashalom is today a beautiful, glossy full colour, 32 page monthly magazine keeping abreast with the latest technology. An electronic version is emailed directly to an online readership each month. Yet in its essentials Hashalom has remained true to its founding principles. The leading article in September 1923 argues that the monthly bulletin “merely desires to serve the interests of our co-religionists with fearless honest endeavour, free from prejudice and partiality”.

Hashalom has always been a labour of love. The October 1932 editorial states “that our labour is gladly given so that our readers may enjoy the results of our work voluntarily undertaken …” Yet it goes on that this implies “active co-operation” from the community which is “not yet established as we should like to see it”. Some of our organizations are still much more compliant than others.

Of course in this era of instant messaging, Facebook and Twitter, a monthly newspaper may seem a contradiction in terms. A half century ago South African Jews had a choice of four Jewish weeklies. Today, the one remaining newspaper has little on the happenings in our community. So Hashalom as a medium simply to provide basic information on what is taking place is an essential facility to maintain communal cohesion.

But Hashalom should be more than a provider of news and views from our various organizations. Our regular features Pundit, Bubkes, Above Board, Out of Perspective, Cooking are locally written, give Hashalom a strong foundation each month, and are greatly enjoyed. Prof Marcus Arkin wrote in his “In Perspective” column in August 1999, Hashalom is “very often the only publication of Jewish interest to reach many households, and thus their only link with the broader world of Jewish affairs”. As the local South African media is at times extremely anti Semitic and anti-Zionist, it is essential that our readers can access a more balanced view of life. One of the pleasures of being editor is to select articles on developments in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

Each month some sort of balance then has to be struck between local reports and items of broader Jewish and Zionist interest, as well as how far we give free reign to controversial issues. The solution is to allow a balanced debate on the issues themselves, as long as the discussion does not become a vehicle for attacks on individuals.

In the forty years I have lived in Durban, the community has shrunk from 6500 to 1200. Yet it remains a vibrant community of committed and warm hearted Jews, with a host of activities. Hashalom remains your paper. It is put together by a dedicated team. To succeed it must continue to have your full participation. With love, farewell and Shalom.