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Lifestyle/Community

Gala dinner raises funds for Durban community

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LAUREN SHAPIRO

DURBAN

The Israel United Appeal/United Communal Fund (IUA/UCF) gala fundraising event was sponsored by Investec and hosted by the Council of KwaZulu-Natal Jewry.

UCF Chairman Jeremy Droyman noted that the committee, with an annual budget of R5,6 million, is currently running at a deficit. He pointed to an increasing amount of unbudgeted costs, for example the rapidly escalating costs of the Community Security Organisation (CSO).

“Like healthcare and schooling, the Jewish community needs to now pay for its own private security,” Droyman explained. “The threats are real and we need to upgrade our infrastructure.”

The UCF supports several affiliate organisations such as Durban Jewish Social Services, Meals on Wheels, Beth Shalom (Durban’s Jewish home for the aged), and the Durban Holocaust Centre. Funds are also allocated to Israel through the IUA.

Keynote speaker Marco van Embden shared his thoughts on how a community impacts an individual and how individuals in turn can impact a community.

As chairman of Cape Town’s UCF (which is combined with both the IUA and welfare committee), Van Embden proceeded to turn the campaign on its head, restructuring it much like a business, and in four short years nearly doubled its funds.

“Much of what drives me is to ensure Jewish survival and continuity, and just maybe these are the core to this drive tonight,” Van Embden said.

In fundraising for organisations like the UCF, he noted: “You are not asking for yourself; you are asking for the voiceless, the unseen, the poor and the needy. You can’t get much closer to G-d’s work than this.”

Droyman echoed this in his speech: “Without fail all our donors have a strong sense of community. For them, giving is not a burden but an obligation, not a cost but a pleasure.” He hoped that bringing friends and family together and reminding us of our communal organisations, would revitalise this sense of community.

“Every member of the community is called upon to contribute in accordance with his or her means,” said president of the CKNJ Ronnie Herr. “It is because of the generosity and the vision of the UCF’s contributors that Durban is a strong, vibrant and caring Jewish community.”

Honorary president of the CKNJ, John Moshal, closed the evening with an emphasis on the mitzvah of giving, something the Durban Jewish community has and will continue to do long into the future.

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