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Achiever winners all jubilant with the honour

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MICHAEL BELLING

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, winner of the Chivas Humanitarian Award in honour of Cyril Harris, said: “I have no words to express my sense of gratitude that the Jewish Report has bestowed this honour on me. I am delighted.”

She said the staff members in her office were “encouraged when our fellow South Africans appreciate what we are doing. We are willing to extend our hands to you to extend our democracy.

“It is encouraging and gives my team and me a sense of being affirmed in what we are trying to do,” she told the SA Jewish Report.

Issie Kirsh, founder of several businesses, including Talk Radio 702, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award in honour of Helen Suzman, said he felt deeply honoured.

“It came out of the blue. I didn’t expect it.”

The awards elevated the status of the whole Jewish community, not only from a business perspective, he said.

“It also elevates the paper, which represents the entire Jewish community. There couldn’t be a better community service.”

Cartoonist Dov Fedler, winner of the SA Jewish Report Arts, Sports, Science and Culture Award, said he had been working for 50 years and this sudden recognition was overwhelming.

“I work very much on my own; it is marvellous to find the public out there paying attention and liking what I do.”

This made it hard for him to accept that he had won the award and he had difficulty relating to it.

He admitted he had no idea of the purpose the awards served.

“It’s so new to me. I have never followed them. Hopefully it will bring me some work. It is my 15 minutes of fame!”

Tali Nates, director of the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre, won the KIA Community Service Award.

She found it “surreal and unreal, yet absolutely wonderful, exciting and a very humbling experience. It’s from the community I love in the country I love.”

She felt the awards are a wonderful acknowledgement of the vibrant Jewish community in this country, with its many achievements in all fields. The community is contributing to building the country, she said.

Claudia Swartzberg, CEO of Top Dog Education, which provides digital outsourced education, received the Creative Counsel Young Jewish Entrepreneur Award.

She found winning the award “absolutely amazing. You never get rewarded for what you do and this is special.

“It is a motivation and a reminder to keep pushing for whatever your goals are.”

International war correspondent Paula Slier won the Europcar Jewish Women in Leadership Award.

“It is incredibly important to me. Being Jewish means being a light unto the nations, which has inspired me to go there and tell the stories. I am proud, honoured and privileged to be part of this community. This is recognition for work I have done from the people who mean the most to me.”

The awards were inspirational, giving something to aspire to, as well as recognition and acknowledgement.

Paul Berman, CEO of property development company Berman Brothers, joint winner of the Absa Entrepreneur Award, said he was “extremely grateful and humbled” at receiving the award. He said he was most grateful to his brother for bringing him into the business in 1994 and said that the hardships they experienced together cemented an indestructible bond which has greatly contributed to their success.

The Achievers inspired other entrepreneurs, he said.“The greatest acknowledgement is recognition from your peers.”

Danny Aaron and Tom Goldgamer of digital marketers and lead generators Benatar Productions Group, were the other winners of the Absa Entrepreneur award, along with Berman.

Aaron said he felt blessed – and shocked – to receive the award. They had not even considered any awards, working 24 hours a day for eight years in their business.

To him the Achievers are part of the contribution of what Judaism and South Africa are – “togetherness, equalities and miracles”.

Goldgamer also felt blessed, as well as humbled, excited and nervous – and grateful for the recognition.

He added that they had typically been at work and never stood back to see what they had achieved.

Bernard Stern, whose Metal Concentrators SA (Metcon) is the largest independent gold refiner in the country, won the Absa Unlisted Company Award.

He felt surprised, shocked and honoured. “I never thought my company was worth getting an award. It’s nice to get recognition for your life’s work,” he said.

“Awards motivate people, especially young entrepreneurs.”

The final winner, of the Absa Listed Company Award, was Stewart Cohen, co-founder and honorary chairman of the board of Mr Price.

He said he was “blown away” by the award, which was hugely appreciated.

“It is great recognition for all people in the company.”

The business implements the powerful concept of shared ownership, which has made many employees millionaires. This is modern capitalism, he said.

“There is too little recognition of employees. Recognition inspires people. In our company we talk about the power of recognition. The more recognition, the more you inspire.”

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