The awesome 2014 Jewish Achievers

  • 2014 mag COVER HOME
Jewish talent spans across the generations – from the achievements of a 17-year-old to an 80-year-old. This is what emerged at the SA Jewish Achievers 2014 awards held at Vodaworld on Sunday. “Disproportionate” is the word Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein used, at the opening of the event. “This is a word that is being used a lot these days, but tonight we celebrate the disproportionate contribution of South African Jews in terms of numbers in every sphere of life. We are one of the smallest communities, but look at our impact. Read all about it...
by STAFF REPORTER | Aug 27, 2014

“This evening we stand with humility and feelings of blessing for our achievements. It is a matter of quality versus quantity. Our impact is felt in every sphere in disproportionate numbers,” he said.

Howard Feldman, non-executive chairman of the SA Jewish Report, said anti-Semitism was at an all-time high and there was “a feeling that we are walking into the perfect storm.

“At home in South Africa, we are witnessing unacceptably slow economic growth; we are struggling to find the balance between the right to strike and the damage to industry; anti-Semitism is at a level never seen before in this country; and our power flickers with unpredictable consistency as Eskom battles to keep the lights on.

“It feels that we are on the brink. And that is why the need for Jewish media is so critical. At a time when the world is raising its voice against, us, we play a vital role in communicating with each other and in setting the record straight. The SA Jewish Report has a commitment to Jews in South Africa and Israel,” he emphasised.

Howard Sackstein, chairman of the Jewish Achiever awards event, said that in these harrowing times, the role of the media and accurate reporting, was crucial.

“The event is aimed at a group of remarkable South Africans who have contributed to the development of South Africa. Whether it is business, the arts, entrepreneurship or community service, the Jewish community can take enormous pride, not only in our achievements, but also in our part as role models for the rest of South Africa.

“Our community has been at the forefront of the development of this nation, but achievement only reaches greatness when it serves as a means to inspire others,” he pointed out.


This year, the event got two new sponsors, KIA Motors and the Creative Counsel, in addition to Absa, the main sponso over many years, and Chivas. There were 270 nomination - an all-time record, he said.

Craig Bond, Chief Executive: Retail and Business Baking: Barclays Africa (Absa’s parent company) said the bank was proud to be the sponsor of the event.

“Our support goes back over a decade. The awards are not only about accomplishment, but also about leadership which aligns with our corporate values of respect, integrity, service, excellence and stewardship. They provide us with an excellent opportunity to interact with our valued clients, colleagues and members of the Jewish community,” he said.

* The lifetime Achievement Award in honour of political stalwart Helen Suzman, was presented by Eric Samson of Macsteel who, speaking on the situation in Israel said: “We shall overcome. We in the Diaspora need Israel and 90 per cent of us are behind that country.”

Samson handed the award to Meyer Kahn, the chief executive officer, and later chairman of SABMiller. At the height of his career, and at the request of former President Nelson Mandela, Kahn did a two-year sabbatical secondment to the SA Police Service as its CEO in 1997. Kahn has always been a philanthropist who has kept his activities and community involvement to himself. However, his contributions to the Chabad Miracle Drive are well-known, as is his support for Israel.

On accepting the award, Kahn said he felt like an Oscar award-winner. He emphasised that the award was not for him alone, but for the whole team at SAB who had helped to make him successful. “I am delighted and proud, but I believe my personal achievements have been highly exaggerated,” he joked.

* The KIA Community Service award went to Rabbi Dovid Hazdan of the Great Park Synagogue and dean of Torah Academy. He is well-known for the origination of the Cycalive project where grade 11learners from Soweto and Torah Academy in relays cycle to Durban, not only as a cultural exchange, but also to raise funds for underprivileged schools.


On accepting the award, Rabbi Hazdan said it was not his alone. “Community service takes place only when we are surrounded by worthy people and organisations working together - no individual can do it alone,” he said, putting the emphasis on teamwork.

He thanked the Lubavitch Foundation for believing in him as an educator. “There are so many rabbis who believe in South Africa and who do so much to contribute to the country,” he said.

* The SA Jewish Report Sport, Art, Science and Culture Award was presented by former SA cricket great, Dr Ali Bacher who said he had never seen such a division in the Jewish community over events in Israel. “There is so much hatred and poison on social media, and through direct contact. I am a great supporter of Israel - unequivocally and unashamedly,” he said.

The award went to Professor Valerie Misrachi who established a research unit at the SA Institute for Medical Research and at Wits University and the National Health Laboratory Service, where she built a world-class programme in TB research.

She is director of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, a postgraduate research institute where world-class scientists work together to tackle the major diseases of Africa,


Mizrahi said it was wonderful to be honoured by her own people.

“I am proudly Jewish. I also thank the South African government which invested in me which enabled me to carry on my research. I have worked hard to train other South Africans and it makes me proud to see them at work. We work together tackling diseases of Africa in Africa,” she said.

* The Creative Counsel Young Jewish Entrepreneurs Award was presented by Ran Neu-Ner and Gil Oved. They said the award was for entrepreneurial youngsters under the age of 28.

The award went to 17-yea-old Nadav Ossendryver for his Latest Sightings website, which reports live animal sightings from the Kruger National Park. He has created a community of over 100 000 visitors. He started the site at the age of 15 and has already had 70 million hits on YouTube. His is the fourth most-viewed in South Africa. He has also created an app for iPhones which has had over 30 000 downloads.

Nadav, who is writing matric prelims at King David Linskfield, on accepting the award, said: “Wow - it’s an amazing honour. I have been inspired by my leaders in the community. I thank the Jewish community and my school friends and teachers who have supported me in my project.”

* The Chivas Humanitarian Award in honour of Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris was presented by Johnny Clegg who said he had encountered a lot of tough moments on his overseas tours with strong anti-Semitism. The award went to Professor Jonathan Jansen (also the event’s keynote speaker) who said all was well in South Africa.

“I work with 30 000 students from all walks of life and who, against all odds, work well together.”

He praised King David Victory Park learner Josh Broomberg for his recent statements on Israel. “Criticism does not mean betrayal - this young man made it clear that he is still an avid supporter of Israel. He said he loved and supported Israel, but still appreciated the country’s actions,” Prof Jansen said.

* The Absa Entrepreneur Award went to Gil Speriling, Daniel Levy and Ryan Silberman of Popimedia, a social media and Adtech company which provides cutting-edge social media services and technology platforms to blue chip multinationals, as well as companies in Africa the Middle East and Europe.

In receiving the award they said they were honoured and grateful for the prestigious award. “Let entrepreneurs lead the way, not government. We live, breathe and eat social media. A culture of innovation and idea generation are at the core of the company, always keeping us ahead of the pack,” they said.

* The Absa Unlisted Companies Award went to Ivor Ichikowitz of the Paramount Group, who has built successful businesses across the diverse fields of oil, gas defence, aerospace, manufacturing, property, retail, tourism, mining, agriculture and sustainable development across Africa.

Accepting the award, he said he was honoured and owed a lot to his, the Jewish community. “We are celebrating good news stories for the African continent tonight. We moan a lot about everything, but in 20 years we have a huge amount to celebrate - but we still need to do a lot more.

“There has never been a more exciting time to be in Africa. The Jewish community is woven in the web of South African society and has played a huge role in its liberation, politics and philanthropy.”

* The Absa Listed Companies Award was given to Steven Braudo, deputy CEO of Liberty Holdings. He is responsible for turning the company around, which Liberty’s(positive) results over the past 12 months, indicate.


He was one of Liberty’s main contributors in the phenomenal turnaround which was recognised by the company and which led to two promotions in four months. He said he was greatly honoured and added that the awards were meaningful for the Jewish community. He thanked his team and said the success of the company was due to smart recruitment, retention and productivity of its sales force.


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