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Absa Jewish Achiever Awards 2018 open for nominations




This is the 20th year of this unique awards ceremony, in which Jewish individuals are acknowledged for the powerful, influential, and life-changing roles they play in South Africa.

The Absa Jewish Achiever Awards acknowledges those whose contributions to society deserve recognition, paying tribute to the men and women who have enhanced our community.

Once again, we are calling for nominations. It’s time to recognise these unique individuals.

This year there are some smart changes to the awards.

What was the Creative Counsel Young Jewish Entrepreneur Award is now the Creative Counsel Jewish Entrepreneur Award, and will no longer be limited to young talent, according to Howard Sackstein, the Chairperson of the board of the SA Jewish Report. It can now be awarded to an individual of any age who has shown entrepreneurial flair.

There are also some new awards, including the Absa Business Icon Award, Absa Business Award, and Absa Professional Excellence Award. The first two will replace the Absa Entrepreneur Award, the Absa Unlisted Company Award, and the Absa Listed Company Award.

Sackstein explains the changes: “It will open up the awards to new audiences, honouring those who were previously excluded, and recognising that some people have transcended the previous criteria, reaching iconic status.”

The Absa Business Icon Award recognises those who have achieved iconic status in community’s business world. “We are looking for nominations of people who represent the dynamic, entrepreneurial, enterprising spirit of our community,” says Sackstein. “Those who have gone beyond the norm, and achieved something truly remarkable.”

The Absa Business Award will go to an individual who has displayed exceptional leadership and performance in either a listed or an unlisted company. The goal, Sackstein says, is to be as comprehensive in recognising our community’s talent as possible.

As for the Absa Professional Excellence Award, it will branch out beyond the realm of business, acknowledging the contributions of any professional in any field. The award will pay tribute to a person who has achieved national recognition and acclaim in their profession. “We want to find someone who, in their field, has shown excellence of some kind and is deserving of recognition,” says Sackstein.

“Hope drives us forward with relentless optimism,” he says. “The problems we face today can and must be solved by us alone. The Torah demands of us to be a ‘light unto the nations’ and now, more than ever, our moral leadership will define who we are as people. We celebrate not to brag of our success, but to highlight that each individual plays a role in shaping the world.

“Throughout the years,” says Sackstein, “household names such as William Kentridge, Johnny Clegg, Thuli Madonsela, George Bizos, Pravin Gordhan, and Jonathan Jansen have been among those recognised for the indelible marks they have made on our community and country.” Kentridge and Clegg were both recipients of the arts award; Bizos, Jansen, Madonsela and Gordhan received the humanitarian award.

Award recipients like these didn’t only achieve remarkable things, they showed great strength of character under trying circumstances. In spite of his dismissal in a midnight cabinet reshuffle and untimely recall early last year, Gordhan remained determined to act in the interests of his country and its people. Not only did he battle to maintain financial confidence in South Africa, he also determinedly demanded answers from defence products company Denel about its suspicious dealings. Madonsela, too, is no stranger to challenge, coming under frequent fire for her findings as Public Protector, pointing out the abuse of power, maladministration, and other unscrupulous behaviour of our country’s leaders.

From entrepreneurship to the arts, community service to leadership, these awards seek to acknowledge individuals from across the professional spectrum for their work. “We celebrate South Africans who have changed the very fabric of our nation – it is they who are our role models and inspiration.”

Absa Bank, the title sponsor of the event, shares this view. “The Jewish achievers represent some of the most ambitious individuals in our community,” says David Hodnett, former Deputy Chief Executive of Barclays Africa Group. “The success of any society depends on its best and brightest making significant contributions to business, entrepreneurship, and the humanities. It is an interdependent relationship.”

In spite of the challenges posed by trying circumstances, members of our community remain determined to stand out and make tangible contributions. Europcar is the proud sponsor of an award which recognises the unique role played by women in South Africa, in business, or the broader community.

“Throughout history,” says Martin Lydall, Chief Commercial Officer of Europcar, “strong women have made their mark on the world, have risen to the challenge when faced with adversity, and their courageous actions have shaped the world we live in. They do this despite increasingly demanding societal, professional, and personal obligations. We know first-hand the impact women can make, and hope to encourage other women to realise their potential contributions in all spheres. The award honours the leadership, impact, achievements, success and overall contribution made by Jewish women in business or in the broader South African community.”

Previous winners have stressed the importance of rising to the challenge, assuming responsibility, and making every effort to contribute to South African society at every level. The winner of last year’s Humanitarian Award, Pravin Gordhan, called on people to abide by the words of Nelson Mandela: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the lives we lead.” The role played by those who have made tangible differences in our lives must be recognised, for it is through their commitment to excellence that we enjoy our many benefits.

Nominations are open to the public. All nominations should be sent via email to Nominations must include the nominee’s name, telephone number and email address; the award for which the nominee is nominated; as well as a short motivation for the nomination. Nominations close at 17:00 on 13 July 2018.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Gavin

    June 27, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    ‘I would like to nominate Ilana Friedman for the humanitarian award. Ilana has dedicated herself to her NPO called Magical Moments for over 15 years.  During this time Ilana has gone through some personal hardships both from a health and financial perspective. Instead of giving up and going to seek a more prosperous and comfortable lifestyle Ilana continued to dedicate herself to communities and hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged, vulnerable, abused and abandoned children. 

    She provides a place to escape from the harsh reality of life into a world of magnificence  – a glimpse into a world of play; a chance to wish and perhaps give them hope so that they see a different world – a world of possibilities.

    To give children the vital opportunity to see a world beyond their own so they can experience life and learn that the squatter camp, shack, rooms in backyards or bleak, violent, impoverished and unstimulating environments are not the borders of their world or their potential.

    Ilana having to deal with the harsh realities of her own life and make choices that impacted her negatively all the while ensuring that Magical Moments and the children are taken care of.

    Ilana has selflessly given to upliftment of these precious and otherwise forgotten children, she has embodied and lived the true definition of a humanitarian for this past decade and a half. She is a well deserving recipient of the humanitarian award. Her impact goes beyond the children but broader communities as well. She has been instrumental in changing the lives of so many adults in their engagement with Ilana and Magical Moments.

    Ilana Friedman

    Mobile:  0824431633 



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