The Lubners: from generation to generation
PHOTOGRAPH: ILAN OSSENDRYVER
As director and chairman respectively of Plate Glass Holdings, they built the PG Group into one of South Africa’s most successful companies and although Bertie has retired, he and Ronnie, current chairman and CEO, remain very active in the company’s running.
Together with the late Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris, Bertie in 1994 was the driving force behind the establishment of Afrika Tikkun, South Africa’s premier Jewish NGO. Then in 1997 the brothers founded the Field Band Foundation, which has given unlimited opportunities to some 5 000 young musicians from underprivileged backgrounds who are members of more than 30 music bands around the country.
Guests arriving at last week’s affair were welcomed by one of these delightful bands.
This was truly a gala night! Rabbis, communal leaders, friends of long standing, close business associates and cherished family members mingled together, enjoying delicious food and drinks as they watched yet another glorious African sunset.
Marvelous entertainment was provided by MC Ian von Memerty, singer and pianist extraordinaire, and Cyril Green, hilarious comedian whose personal brand of humour never fails to delight his audiences.
Greg Kinross, chairman of the JNF-SA which hosted the evening, described the enormous respect people had for the Lubner family in celebrating their humanity and generosity.
He spoke of their parents Morrie and Bella, great supporters of the JNF, part of the generation which had purchased land in mandate Palestine, and whose dream of a Jewish state had become today’s miracle.
The achievements of the JNF today, he said, were in large measure due to people like the Lubners who had contributed so generously over the years.
Delivering his superb tribute to Bertie and Ronnie, SA Zionist Federation Chairman Avrom Krengel recalled some of their past family history; noted the significant roles both men had played in the establishment of the new South Africa; mentioned the many awards and honours bestowed upon Bertie over the years and how valuable his mentoring of and guidance to younger leaders had been for the benefit of the community; and emphasised how the brothers had transferred these values to their children, all of whom were today involved in helping to make the world a better place.
He thanked them for the eight decades of service they had given to South African and world Jewry and to Israel, describing them as icons of philanthropy and legends of the Jewish community.
In appreciating everyone who had played so significant a part in their lives, Bertie said it was the JNF that should be honoured for all it had done both in Israel and here in South Africa.
He paid tribute to the heads of the numerous organisations with which he and Ronnie had been involved over the years, each of which had contributed to making the world a better place, and each of whose leaders had given not only money but time, passion and commitment to making a difference to those in need.
No-one, he said, could attain success without the love and loyalty of one’s family. Both brothers were fortunate enough to have this in abundance, and they took great pride in seeing the next generation encapsulating their values and growing them to new and greater heights.
Each couple received a JNF Golden Book Certificate in appreciation of their changing the world; and Hilary and Rhona were each presented with a limited edition Tiffany JNF Blue Box.