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Jewish Achievers – a winning evening

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A record 774 people gathered at the Sandton Convention Centre on Sunday night to recognise the achievements of 430 individuals nominated for nine different awards in the 19th Absa Jewish Achiever Awards.
by JORDAN MOSHE | Sep 06, 2018

In an evening of glitz and glamour, the achievements of some of the Jewish community’s greatest personalities were celebrated in style.

With a high-profile guest list featuring cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, community leaders, business moguls, and others, the event drew people from all walks of life. Guests descended upon the venue dressed to the nines, with men sporting finely-cut suits and women resplendent in evening dresses filling the foyer. Walking down the red carpet to the hall, one couldn’t help but feel like a genuine movie star, a feeling enhanced by the cameramen snapping photos from every angle.

Upon arrival, guests were treated to refreshments, ranging from artisanal cocktails to more traditional spirits, all accompanied by savoury canapes. While waiting for the hall doors to open, introductions were made, interviews conducted, and an abundance of photographs taken. The excitement was certainly catchy, and anticipation mounted steadily.

Once the guests were seated, the ceremony began with a musical spectacle. Wearing a flowing white dress, violinist Cristina Rodrigues was raised gracefully above the stage at the front of the room, missing not a single beat on her violin while beams of light strafed the room. On her return to earth, guests were officially welcomed by Howard Sackstein, the Chairperson of the SA Jewish Report.

“We rejoice in a community that has thrived on freedom and contributed so remarkably to the development of South Africa in every possible sphere,” Sackstein said. “The shadow of our impact looms large here.”

He said that while it is easy to fall into despair on examining the daily issues which confront our country, a healthy dose of perspective can lend clarity to reality. “Today, we are filled with more hope, more opportunity, and more promise. The process of rebirth has begun.”

It is for this reason, he said, that the theme of this year’s ceremony was “The Re-Generation”.

“It speaks of our triumph as a nation, our emergence from a bitter winter of hopelessness. Today, we celebrate a new dawn, a season of new leadership, one that that brings with it new hope.

“These awards recognise talent, determination, and tenacity. But most importantly, they create role models for our community, and South Africa as a whole.”

Selected by four panels of diverse judges, the stars of the evening included Lifetime Achievement Award winner, hotel mogul Sol Kerzner; Art, Sport, Science, and Culture Award winner Hazel Feldman; The Chevrah Kadisha’s Colin Datnow, the recipient of the Kia Community Service Award; and Professor Bonita Meyersfeld, the winner of the Europcar Women in Leadership Award. Marketing visionary Jason Xenopoulos was bestowed the Creative Counsel Entrepreneur Award; while two organisations, Freedom under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation shared the Bunnahabhain Humanitarian Award. In the category of Absa-sponsored awards were Judge David Unterhalter with the Professional Excellence Award; Mike Abel with the Business Award; and Investec Chief Executive Stephen Koseff with the Business Icon Award.

Accompanied by entertainment from master of ceremonies Alan Committie and muso Ian von Memerty, the evening paid tribute both to individual greatness and communal achievement.

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