Meet the Jewish Report’s board of directors
Founded in 1998, the South African Jewish Report is the only national newspaper for South African Jewry. Its board of directors, since inception, has played an invaluable role in ensuring that the paper remains fiscally and editorially viable and that its mandate and mission are followed to the letter.
Two of the founding members of the paper – Bertie Lubner and Herby Rosenberg – are still members of the board today. The chairman of the first board was the inimitable Sam Abrahams.
Newly-elected chairman of the 2015 board, Howard Sackstein (Pictured above) holds a BA in Law and International Relations and an LLB degree from Wits and a Masters degree from Brandeis University in Political Advocacy and International Conflict Resolution.
An inveterate globe trotter, Howard has travelled to 66 countries, exploring places known to very few South Africans. He describes himself, in his other life, as king of social media, explosive political activist, lover of life, meanderer of the globe, and official photographer to life itself
RIGHT; Howard Sackstein
Never one to shy away from the contentious, Howard was actively involved in the Anti-Apartheid Movement and took Nelson Mandela to Brussels in 1993. A year later he joined the Independent Electoral Commission, where he worked for six years, in the process becoming executive director largely responsible for the 1999 general election.
In 2006, he undertook the initial research that resulted in the creation of the CAP security project which today protects more than 100 000 homes and has reduced crime by over 90 per cent in the areas that it covers.
He is also very involved in communal affairs, having served as chairman of the SA Union of Jewish Students and vice-chairman of the World Union of Jewish Students. He remains honorary lifetime chairman and honorary lifetime president of SAUJS; and is chairman of the Jewish Achiever Awards and a trustee of the Afrika Tikkun Trust;
Equally comfortable with political and social issues, he was one of the organisers of the two previous extremely successful Yom Ha’atzmaut raves held for the younger members of the community; and serves as a role model for many of them.
Of the Jewish Report, Howard says: “The SA Jewish Report is no longer just a newspaper. Today it is a media company with a newspaper, web portal and Facebook presence. Our role is to provide quality and responsible content that is newsworthy, unique and relevant to a South African Jewish audience.
“The Jewish Report has become the glue that bonds the South African Jewish community together. It is a great honour to step into the chair in the footsteps of some of the giants that have come before me. Our new board is a mixture of great diversity, all of whom have a deep love and affection for the South African Jewish community.
“I have no doubt that with our new board and new editor Vanessa Valkin, we can all add great value to both the Jewish community and South Africa as a whole.”
In his day job, Howard is CEO of Saicom Holdings which includes, Saicom Voice Services, Saicom International, Saicom SMS and Tariffic.
Holding B Com and B Acc degrees from Wits University, and having completed his articles at Grant Thornton in 1999 to become a chartered accountant, Jewish Report vice-chairman, Benjy Porter is a firm believer in the importance of leading a balanced lifestyle.
LEFT; Benjy Porter
As well as holding the position of CEO of Legal & Tax, a national company that offers and makes accessible sound legal and tax advice and other services to many South Africans who might not otherwise be able to afford them, he sits on the boards of a number of other trusts and bodies including the CSF Trust, Greater Glenhazel Active Security, Vaxitron Investments and Wozipo Capital.
An avid sportsman, Benjy has completed 14 Comrades Marathons, over 100 marathons and half marathons, 13 94.7 Cycle challenges and a number of half Ironman and full Ironman competitions. His wife and six children are his greatest supporters and greatest fans.
His community involvement extends to a number of initiatives beside the Jewish Report, most notably CAP. Of his position at the Jewish Report he says: “I am passionate about the Jewish Report as I believe it can be a way of showing and building unity in our community. I am also very grateful to my mentor and the chairman of our business, Issie Kirsh, for getting me involved and it is a great honour to take over from him as vice chairman.”
Bertie Lubner, well known and highly respected for his philanthropy, his business acumen, his commitment to the challenges he undertakes, his assiduity and perseverance in business and communal activities, has been an active member of the board of the Jewish Report since its founding.
RIGHT; Bertie Lubner
Bertie was previously chief executive of Plate Glass and Shatterprufe Industries, vice-chairman of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, an executive member of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, chairman of Salid Investments, director of Plate Glass Holdings SA, and chairman of the Lubner Group of Companies.
After a lifetime in business, Bertie changed direction, taking on the role of creating organisations that would look after new generations of South Africans. He founded and became chairman of a number of outreach programmes including Afrika Tikkun, a Jewish-led outreach organisation to assist previously disadvantaged children, whose patron-in chief was former President Nelson Mandela.
He initiated the Field Band Foundation – an organisation which has developed 31 college-style bands, bringing not only musical skills, but lifestyle skills to over 4 000 children from the most deprived areas. He is a trustee for the Worcester Home for the Deaf and Blind and is a patron of the Lubner “Kibbutz” – a farming project in South Africa, incorporating people with Down’s syndrome.
Bertie is also vice president of the Institute of Directors; president of the SA Israel Chamber of Commerce; and member of the task force representing Business and Government at the World Economic Forum. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of philosophy from Ben-Gurion University in 1987; and in 1990 he received the highest South African Civil Award – OMSS, which embraced his role in business, the interests of the country and his direct involvement in philanthropic and social community projects.
Having recently celebrated his 80th birthday, and as active and involved as ever, non-executive board member Herby Rosenberg has brought to his position at the Jewish Report the same passion and dedication that is the hallmark of both his professional and his communal lives.
LEFT; Herby Rosenberg
The list of his directorships and patronages is long and impressive, covering as it does a plethora of different professional companies, organisations, NGOs and communal bodies. A now-retired attorney of the Supreme Court of South Africa (Transvaal Provincial Division) and the High Court of Swaziland, and former chairman of the SA Property Owners Association, Herby is vice-president of the SA Associates of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Fellow of The Institute of Directors based in London, chairman of the Forum for Reconstruction and Reconciliation and executive deputy chairman of Afrika Tikkun NPC. He is also chairman of the Southern African Strategic Consultancy and a partner in Lubner Rosenberg and Associates.
Herby was a former director of the New York-based JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency); he served on the board of governors of the President’s Fund (Israel); he was an executive member of the Mizrachi Association of SA, an executive member of Telfed (Israel); and director general of the SA Zionist Federation.
He was also a former member of the Council of Medunsa University and of the Medunsa University Trust, as well as a trustee of the Worcester School for the Deaf and the Blind. Herby’s dedication to serving the community has been one of the driving forces behind his passion and involvement with the Jewish Report.
Howard Feldman, who until recently was chairman of the board of the Jewish Report before Howard Sackstein took over, is a lawyer, a physical commodity trader by industry and a writer by obsession. He also co-hosts the weekday Morning Mayhem Breakfast Show on Chai FM from 06:00 to 09:00. Very active in the Jewish community and passionate about the Jewish world, he is also a philanthropist and social commentator.
LEFT; Howard Feldman
His regular blog in The Times of Israel has garnered for him a dedicated and loyal following and his recently published book “Carry-on Baggage”, detailing his rise and fall in life, and enabling him to discover not just the meaning of home, family and friendship but also himself, is a best-seller across a wide spectrum of readers.
Unashamedly Jewish, unashamedly South African, and unashamedly supportive of Israel, Howard is married to Heidi and has five children. He is passionate about the Jewish Report, and during his tenure as chairman of the Board, he propelled the paper through both good times and bad, never defaulting on his responsibility to ensure its success.
Bringing gender balance, albeit in the minority of one, and a healthy dose of female logic, energy and creativity to the board of the Jewish Report, Dina Diamond offers more than 15 years’ experience in the financial services sector in South Africa, Africa and the United States, with a focus on marketing and communications.
RIGHT; Dina Diamond
The various disciplines in which she has played a role have included strategy, project management, information technology, business process re-engineering, operations management, risk management, and more.
Over the past few years Dina has searched for the opportunity to join a non-profit board, and the Jewish Report offered her the perfect vehicle.
She has always striven for perfect balance in her life; and although she sees her biggest sacrifice as that of not being a fulltime mother, she has nonetheless managed to combine the demands of her work with those of giving her children and family sufficient quality time.
Dina’s perseverance, the respect she shows to everyone she deals with and recognising and seizing opportunities when they present themselves-are the hallmarks of her success. The fervour and zeal with which she approaches her position within the community are reflected in her very positive attitude towards the growth and success of the Jewish Report. She says, “In a world where media shapes and drives public opinion, I feel it is important to try and create a balanced perspective and to help highlight what general media distorts for various political agendas. The Jewish Report is a platform to present a balanced view of local and world events, to highlight the stories that go untold relating to the Jewish community and to celebrate wonderful accomplishments that deserve to be showcased. It is for these reasons that I am thrilled to be part of such a passionate and esteemed team in this endeavour.
Property mogul and board member Herschel Jawitz, CEO and owner of Jawitz Properties, states as his personal goal being able to “live an inspired life and to inspire those around me to be the best that they can be or even better than they ever imagined” – applicable not only to his employees and colleagues but to his family as well.
LEFT; Herschel Jawitz
And why is he involved in the Jewish Report? Because, as he says, “This is an exciting opportunity to be involved in a publication that is seen as one of the mouthpieces of the Jewish Community in SA.”
Having led his family business through the transition from founder to second generation with his brother, and from a regional company in South Africa to a national one and the beginnings of an international group, his passion for leadership and keeping the company’s entrepreneurial flair alive, has ensured its success.
But Herschel is much more than just a businessman – his interests in jazz, outdoor adventure, running, golf and swimming, as well as his passion for the Kruger National Park and its amazing wildlife, have played an invaluable part in making him an all-rounder, interested, involved and determined to bring as much of his business acumen to the running of the Jewish Report as possible.
In 2006 Herschel won the Jewish Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Since then he has become a passionate, dedicated and fascinating tweeter, sharing ideas and opinions on a multitude of issues with his followers: politics, business, human interest stories, Israel, humour… and Donald Trump!
Shabbat Around The World beams out from Jozi
More than 75 devices around the globe logged in to Beit Luria’s World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) Shabbat Around the World programme on Friday, 15 January.
Whether it was breakfast time in California, tea time in Europe, or time to break challah in Johannesburg, participants logged in to take part in Beit Luria’s Kabbalat Shabbat service.
Among those participating were Rabbi Sergio Bergman, the president of the WUPJ; chairperson Carole Sterling; and Rabbi Nathan Alfred, the head of international relations. Singers Tulla Eckhart and Brian Joffe performed songs from a global array of artists, along with Toto’s Africa to add a little local flair to the service. After kiddish was said and bread was broken, Rabbi Bergman thanked Beit Luria for hosting the WUPJ. The shul looks forward to more collaborations with its global friends in the future.
UJW Sewing School graduates model creations
The outfits modelled by graduates of the Union of Jewish Women’s (UJW’s) Sewing School were all the more spectacular for the fact that some of their creators had never seen a sewing machine prior to the four-month course.
They were modelled at the school’s graduation ceremony at Oxford Shul on 15 December to much excitement and applause.
UJW executive member and Sewing School Manager Ariane Heneck expressed her gratitude to Chido Tsodzo, the school’s superb teacher, and the event ended with a much appreciated lunch for graduates and their invited guests.
The self-empowerment Sewing School for unemployed men and women was started by the UJW 10 years ago. It now has a small production team of ex-students, and some of its graduates have been employed in factories, while others are selling their own creations.
Israel Rugby 7s to camp with the Blitzbokke
The thrill-a-minute Rugby 7s have captured the hearts of fans around the world. The Blitzbokke, South Africa’s national Rugby 7s team, ranks second in the world, and is among the most exciting, formidable, and feared of 7s teams.
Exactly 9 191 km away are the Israelis, an emerging rugby nation that has talent, determination, and a world-class coach in South African Kevin Musikanth. Now, these two squads will meet. The Israeli 7s side will be travelling to the SAS Rugby Academy in Stellenbosch to train with the Blitzbokke.
The Blitzbokke will have the opportunity to prepare for the coming 7s rugby season by measuring their skills of play against the Israelis. And the Israelis, well, they will be rubbing shoulders with, and learning from the best in the world and honing their skills for their coming European Rugby season.
“It’s an opportunity for our boys to learn from the world’s best,” says Musikanth. The SAS Rugby Academy is run by the legendary Frankie Horn, a technical expert whose coaching guidelines and methods are second to none in World Rugby 7s.
Musikanth took over as Rugby 15s head coach in Israel in 2018, and in October 2019, he became director of rugby for the Israeli Rugby Union and head coach for the national programmes of both the 15s and the 7s.
Horn visited Israel last December at the behest of Rugby Israel and its supporting Olympic body and since then, the partnership has continued to grow. The upcoming training camp will begin in Israel, where Horn, together with Phil Snyman, the former Blitzbok captain and multiple world champion winner, will spend a week with the players and coaching staff at Wingate, Netanya, the home base of Rugby Israel. They will then all travel to Stellenbosch for a week’s camp with the Blitzbokke.
“We’ve already seen the difference through our partnership with Frankie. Two of our players were spotted by him on his previous trip to Israel, and have been training at SAS on the off-season,” says Musikanth. The two players are Omer Levinson (scrum half) and Yotam Shulman (lock).
Horn, technical advisor to Rugby Israel’s 7s, says “It is a great opportunity for both teams to derive positive benefit from the camp.”
Israel Rugby has been making considerable professional strides since Musikanth took over the reins. Israel 15s played their 100th test match against Cyprus and celebrated with a 34-22 victory.
“We’re in the top 25 in Europe in 15s and in the top 16 in 7s, the toughest, most competitive continent in world rugby,” says Musikanth, “and I can realistically see us setting our sights on the Top 15 and Top 12 respectively in the future.”
Currently, there are three eligible South Africans who are on the Israeli national squad: Jayson Ferera as flanker (Pirates Rugby Club), Daniel Stein as fly half (studying in Israel), and Jared Sichel as prop (Hamilton’s Rugby Club, Cape Town). Eligibility to play for a national team in rugby is stricter than in other sports. One does not qualify just because one has a passport. One has to have had a parent or grandparent that was born in that country or one has to have lived in the country for at least three years.
“With so much Jewish rugby talent around the world, we would be able to put a world-class Israeli national team together if not for the measures that restrict eligibility to national call ups,” says Musikanth.
The Israel Rugby development project was accelerated thanks to Musikanth initiating Bridges through Rugby. This project is the collective effort of a few South African Jewish businessmen who appreciate the long-term vision of Israel becoming a stronger rugby nation. They have come on board to assist with this most opportune tour. National financial support is fixed and, as such, is limited. While the strong players and national coaches will be attending the training camp in Stellenbosch, there will be some that will, unfortunately, have to stay behind.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players and coaches. To get to see the best upfront and feed off their knowledge is going to be incredible,” says Musikanth. “Everyone is eager to go, of course, but there is a cap to the support we have in place. We would like to take a development u20 squad as well as coaching staff who would carry the benefits of this into the future. A rugby visit to Stellenbosch can change rugby lives in many respects. Stellenbosch is rugby utopia!”
Rugby aside, with the Israelis and South Africans camping together, the question of what will be for dinner after a gruelling day’s training may be a matter of contention. A tussle for whether to serve boerewors or shwarma may result in a scrum in the SAS dining hall to determine the outcome.
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