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The Jewish Report Editorial

It’s a women Achievers year!

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There’s magic in celebrating the success of others, and therefore there’s real magic in the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards. These days, it’s not so much about glitz and glamour because most of us watch it from the comfort of our own living rooms, but it’s about being inspired by what people we know are capable of doing.

Many of us recognise that if they can achieve it, so can we. It takes effort, passion, perseverance, and the will to succeed, but it’s clearly possible. That’s inspiring, isn’t it?

So much goes into making the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards happen and along the way, nerves get frayed and people get stressed. Not everyone can win awards, it’s that simple. But it’s really worth the effort.

And then, when you watch the awards, there are always going to be those winners you think are the best ever, and you’re surprised they haven’t won before. But on the flipside, there are also going to be those you aren’t so sure should have won, and you always have lots of reasons why. I guess this is the nature of who we are as a community.

It also makes for excellent material for what we used to call “watercooler conversations” or perhaps “Shabbos-table chatter”.

The point is, there are no losers in the Jewish Achievers. Everyone involved is a winner because the experience is unique and worthwhile.

I was impressed with the number of incredible women who won this year. Hence, the reason for our front-page photograph of the three women who won independently. They are Cara Saven, who won the Europcar Women in Leadership Award; Professor Lucille Blumberg, who won the Absa Professional Excellence – From COVID to Hope Award; and Humanitarian Award winner Glynne Wolman.

These are three powerhouse women each in their own way. They have created their own paths, doing what they believe is right and for the good of so many.

They are such clear icons, mentors, and trailblazers.

But the record number of women who won included Rebbetzin Rochel Goldman, who with Rabbi Yossy Goldman, won the joint Community Award. When people speak of Rochel, they speak of her as an innovator, trendsetter, and about what she has done for other women.

And as for Lynette Saltzman, who together with her husband, Ivan, won the Absa Business Icon Award. They have literally changed the face of pharmacies in South Africa. She, too, is a hugely powerful woman!

In the past, we have certainly mourned the dearth of female winners of Achiever Awards, wondering where they were. Well, this year, we have made up for it with a record of five incredible, powerful, trendsetting women! It makes me so proud.

I would like to think that the COVID-19 era – which unfortunately isn’t over – has made us all question what is or isn’t important to us. It has made us choose what works for us and what doesn’t. In some situations, this has been heartbreaking, but it has also been inspiring and empowering.

As I see it, these and other phenomenal women were out there doing what they are passionate about and succeeding beyond measure, but they didn’t necessarily see the need to put in the effort or time that it took to participate in the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards. I understand. As the mother of two and a full-time editor/journalist, I have to steal sleep time in order to exercise and do the things I want to do for me. I know I’m not alone.

I belong to a very exclusive club, which I like to call “the midnight working mother’s club”. So often, when I send work emails late at night, the people who generally respond immediately are members of my club, the working mothers. There are simply not enough hours in our day, but we make it work.

However, over this COVID-19 era, we couldn’t drive to and from the office, and used that time to work from home. We also didn’t have as many engagements, so we prioritised. And I’m so pleased that these powerhouse women have put themselves forward because they deserve the accolade.

Generally – and I’m generalising now – for a woman to get ahead, she has to work three times as hard as a man.

As Cara Saven says, she left the corporate world to start her own business because she didn’t want to see her children only in the dark. But when she started on her own, she chose to employ moms because she knew just how hardworking and dedicated they were, even though they did their work between fetching kids and doing homework. I’m thrilled that the judges recognised this woman for what she is doing.

As for Glynne Wolman, how does one woman and her network of angels save the lives of so many people? It’s truly astonishing! And she’s a lovely, approachable, kind human being to boot. Go figure!

I can wax lyrical about the other three women too, but there’s no need. I don’t need to convince anyone that they are winners, the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards has already done so.

Congratulations to all the Achiever winners from the SA Jewish Report, and thank you to all who made our annual event a sterling evening.

Miss SA bullying

On a far more sour note, I’m appalled at the bullying of Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane just because she’s going to compete in the Miss Universe competition, which happens to be held in Israel.

Once again, the proverbial knives are out because she didn’t back down when the Israel haters started throwing stones at her. They have used such ugly tactics, including lying that she has backed out when she hasn’t.

Haven’t we seen this all too often? I like to call it the “Shashi Naidoo syndrome” after the celebrity who was actually pro-Israel until she was bullied into backing down on a statement she put on social media. They made her life a misery until she not only backed down and apologised, but turned tail and joined the side that bullied her.

The truth is, it’s hard to stand up to people who are threatening to cancel you and make your future difficult. Unfortunately, these thugs will stop at nothing.

It’s deplorable, and totally takes away any democratic choice Mswane has to compete.

I, for one, back Mswane 100% and believe she should be given her right as Miss South Africa to go forward to compete in Miss Universe. Let’s find a way to help her against these bullies.

Shabbat Shalom!

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