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Sing unsung heroes’ praises



Have you ever wondered why the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards makes such a big deal out of the Community Service Award every year?

It doesn’t celebrate individual achievement, as is the case with the entrepreneurship award, business leadership award, or women in leadership award. It’s about a person or a group of people who often aren’t acknowledged because their work is the furthest thing from personal enrichment. It also generally occurs behind the scenes, where few know what they actually do.

Interestingly, many who would have received what this year is named the Mann Made Media Community Service Award have turned it down because they didn’t want the accolade or even the acknowledgement. Often, they prefer to go under the radar.

However, giving them acknowledgement is generally the least we can do as a community. They deserve so much more.

So many who do communal work do it simply to give back to the community they love. So many don’t get a cent for this work, but give hours and hours to benefit the community. They choose not to be bystanders, but to help enhance and build us as a community. They are committed to creating better lives for us as a community in whichever way they choose. It could be helping out at the Chev, or working at one of the Holocaust & Genocide Centres, or raising funds for one of the communal organisations. There’s so much to be done, and so many who freely give of themselves.

Our community is strong because of it.

Do you know the people who volunteer for Hatzolah, or work with the Community Security Organisation (CSO)? Do you know those who help formulate CAP and keep it on the straight and narrow?

“If it hadn’t been for the vision of the late Gerald Leissner, who went out and raised money, there would be no Holocaust & Genocide Centres,” said SA Jewish Report and Absa Jewish Achiever Awards Chairperson Howard Sackstein.

“The late Mendel Kaplan had a vision which has shaped what the Jewish community looks like today,” he said.

“Colin Datnow, a former Jewish Achiever Community Service Award winner, and his family have been instrumental in driving the Chev, and what it does and has done for our community for generations,” Sackstein said.

Marlene Bethlehem served on the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) for many years, and was the first woman chairperson of the SAJBD in 94 years. That was only one of her community-building hats over more than 55 years of service, which included her role as president of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, which trains future Jewish leaders in 55 countries.

Today, Professor Karen Milner gives generously of her time as chairperson of the SAJBD. She sets such a stellar example, her daughter, Bethia, has also chosen to take on a leadership role as the national chairperson of the South African Union of Jewish Students.

Reeva Forman has done much in her years on the SAJBD and to enhance the progressive community. And Mary Kluk’s work on the SAJBD and the Durban Holocaust & Genocide Centre is massive.

Lance Abramson is a busy lawyer but never forsakes the greater role he plays as the chairperson of Hatzolah. And Dr Brad Gelbart also doesn’t stint on his time running the CSO.

These are but a few of the endless incredible people who give and give and give to this community without asking for any reward.

It’s for this reason that we have such a strong and powerful community, and it will continue from strength to strength because of them.

So, who do you know who deserves to be nominated or to win this year’s Mann Made Media Community Service Award? Don’t let them remain unsung heroes. Give them their due for all they do for us.

Nominate now and go to:

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