The Jewish Report Editorial

The true achievers of our community

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Looking around me at the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards on Sunday, I could not help thinking that we are a force to be reckoned with - in no uncertain terms.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Aug 18, 2017

Like the biblical story of David and Goliath, the South African Jewish community is in fact the young David who punches so far above his weight. So much so that South Africans at large think there are far more Jews than there actually are, because we are a powerful bunch.

Sitting in that auditorium in all our finery, it was so evident. The fact that so many political dignitaries gave up their Sunday evening to be with us, meant that they believe us to be worth making the effort for. And we are.

Having put together the Achievers publication, I can tell you the innovation, the business acumen and ethic, the wisdom, the social and moral compass, the street suss, the innovation and know-how among our nominees is totally astounding.

I am glad I wasn’t party to judging the business section, because - although I come from a family of business people - the competition was fierce. Every single finalist deserved to win - and I don’t say that lightly.

Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan coming to accept his award, means that he values our Kavod. He believes that this community is worth watching, listening to and honouring with his presence. 

But, in truth, Sunday night was not about what others think about us, it is about paying tribute to excellence and credit where it is due.

Of those winners, there were two people I know personally and I am proud to know them.

Firstly, I have known Brett Osrin - the Absa Unlisted Company Award winner - since he was a little King David Linksfield Primary School boy and my brother’s friend. One thing I always remember about Brett was that he was a mensch - a gutinka - even as a little boy. 

He was always respectful, thoughtful and did the right thing. I don’t believe he has changed much. Suffice to say, I revel in the fact that someone who lives his life with ethics and morals succeeds. Kol Hakavod!

Alas, in this instance, it takes me back to those Jewish names that float around in the Guptagate saga, which gives most of us the opposite uncomfortable feeling.

The second person I have a history with is the winner of the SA Jewish Report Art, Sport, Science & Culture Award, Bryan Schimmel.

I was in the same class as Bryan through much of our time at King David Linksfield. I can tell you that Bryan did not have an easy time. He was bullied and not given a chance because he was different and had a bad stutter.

The cruelty of the kids in our year made it hard for him to be heard. That is, except when he got in front of a piano. That shut us all up. So, when Bryan said that making music was his happy and safe space - that made sense to me. It was the only time at school that he had a voice and everyone listened.

For Bryan to be where he is today - one of the most respected and admired people in the music and theatre industry - is such a testament to his bravery, perseverance and the ability to find in himself an inner core of self-belief. 

The fact that he accepted his award as a symbol of hope for all those kids who are not the cool kids, who are different, but who have a dream and a passion, is a true testament to who Bryan Schimmel really is. He is an inspiration to us all!

On the one hand, his experience should teach us to ensure that bullying is brought to a total stop at any of our schools. On the other hand, he has shown us all what is possible. Thank you, Bryan!

To end off this amazing week, I just want to say thank you to everyone who joined us at the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards 2017 because your participation and contribution will keep this newspaper going. So, from all of us at the SA Jewish Report, you have our humblest gratitude!

Shabbat Shalom!




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