Subscribe to our Newsletter

click to dowload our latest edition

The music stops with Dawn’s passing



Featured Item

Legendary South African entertainment personality Dawn Lindberg had all but written the script for her death just weeks before she died from COVID-19 in Plettenberg Bay this week.

Her devastated close friend, Dr Dorianne Weil, was incredulous when thinking back to how Dawn had written to her about every last detail of the send-off she wanted for herself or Des (her husband) should he go first, which included a memorial ceremony and a musical celebration of her life, at Weil’s home.

“It keeps playing in my head how it was just six weeks ago that she brought this up again, after sending the original ‘Des and Dawn’s wishes’ letter back in August,” Weil said this week. “How could she have known what was coming?

“She wanted me to have a musical tribute to her here, but I explained that I was happy to have a memorial for her where people got up and spoke about her, but a celebration of her life with people singing wasn’t how we Jewish people deal with death.”

Weil says the letter Dawn sent her at the end of August included everything about the burial procedure. “She wanted Josh and Adam [her sons] to arrange it, close friends and family to pay tribute, and artists to perform, but wanted me to provide the refreshments. It included what she wanted done with everything, including her animals. It was seven pages long, and clearly something she and Des had discussed. She clearly wanted her life to be celebrated through words and song.”

These were effectively preparations – Dawn getting her house in order – for an eventuality that one would have imagined would be way in the future. But then on Tuesday, this larger-than-life personality who was apparently healthy until COVID-19 struck, passed away.

“Dawn needed to be organised, which she was to the ‘nth degree’, and in control,” said Weil.

“She was often accused of being bossy and interfering, but it was always recognised that it came with great intention, and was offered with warmth and generosity,” says Weil.

“She was a larger-than-life person with energy and creativity that belied her years.”

Born in Durban on 19 April 1945 as Dawn Avril Silver, she had a Jewish father and an Afrikaans mother. Together with her husband of 55 years, Des Lindberg, they became known as the formidable Des and Dawn. They began their careers as a folk duo in the 1960s.

Says Weil, “Des and Dawn were there to commiserate, celebrate, participate in every significant milestone and event of ours, and Les [her late husband] and I for them. We participated in each other’s journeys with abundance, love, care, enthusiasm, passion, and alacrity.

“Dawn was a character, with her own brand of quirkiness and chutzpah, which sometimes she was entirely unaware of, but that was Dawn. She was always a presence, leaving a trail of laughs and conversation.”

Leading musical director Bryan Schimmel said, “Dawn was a force of nature who had an indefatigable commitment to the theatre industry. Together with Des, they challenged the apartheid government in the 1970s and blazed a trail when their production of Godspellbecame the first multiracial production to play to a multiracial audience in South Africa.

“I, and many others in the theatre industry, stand on their shoulders,” Schimmel said. “The word ‘no’ wasn’t in Dawn’s vocabulary. I didn’t always agree with her, and we had our differences, but I admired and respected her tenacity and ferocious passion for everything she did. The theatre is a darker place without her in it. Bless you Dawn, you have a left an astonishing and unmatchable legacy.”

Avid theatre-goer and close friend, Denise Goldin, said, “Remembering our grade years at Parkview Primary School we all looked forward to the birthday parties that she organised, best of which was her imaginatively planned garden treasure hunt!

“I’m most grateful to Dawn for offering to recognise the significant loss of my son, Brett Goldin, who was an internationally recognised actor, tragically murdered in a hijacking in Cape Town. Dawn in her caring and comforting manner dedicated a trophy in his name to be awarded at her Naledi Theatre Awards for the best breakthrough actor. It’s gestures like this that endeared her to many, both in the industry she loved so dearly and personally as well. An icon whose memory will live forever.”

Jonathan Roxmouth, the lead actor best known as South Africa’s Opera ghost in Phantom of the Opera said, “I struggle to imagine an opening night in South Africa without the legendary Dawn Lindberg. She was a force of nature who left her indelible stamp on everything and everyone she connected with. I will forever be changed by Hurricane Dawn.”

Dawn Lindberg together with Gill Katz co-authored a book, “How Did I Begin?” explaining the facts of life for young children.

Playwright Yaël Farber recalls the words, “Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea. And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.”

“I spent hours as a child listening to the record of you [Dawn] singing Puff. Years of being welcomed into your home,” she said.

My own early memories date to 1966, when Des and Dawn came to perform at Greenside High School during one Friday break. The school had a music club, and the entry fee was 10c per term. The school hall was packed to capacity.

Our friendship began in the late 1980s, and the Sunday Soirée evenings at their home in St Patrick’s Road, Houghton, were not to be missed. Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu performed one of their earliest gigs at the venue. Other regulars were Tessa Ziegler, Mark Banks, and of course Des and Dawn themselves. Supported by the Jewish community, Jules and Selma Browde were always in the audience, as were Dr Joseph Teeger and his wife, Isa.

Yet Dawn’s biggest acclaim was for the annual event she founded called the Naledi Theatre Awards. Year-after-year, each surpassed the previous one in magnitude and glamour, always succeeding to acknowledge and encourage the theatre industry through nominations and winners across a host of different categories. All genres of live theatre were covered with the support of a loyal panel of judges who diligently went to see eligible productions.

I lent a hand to oversee the judging process and hand the envelopes to Dawn at the start of the live event. For Dawn, it was a labour of love, and even when funding became an issue, she and Des continued regardless and unstintingly gave of themselves. It was a full-time job over a year that culminated in a number of events. The awards ceremony was usually packed with entertainment drawn from the fare of eligible productions for the year.

The 2020 ceremony was a challenge because of the pandemic. Undaunted and with the motto “the show must go on”, Dawn teamed up with webinar maestro Dan Stillerman to make it happen.

Stillerman said he was utterly shocked by the news. He met Dawn through one of the Naledi judges, Thea Gafin, when she was seeking to take the 2020 ceremony online. Dan was struck by her energy, passion, and enthusiasm, and found it hard to believe that she was 75 – more like 65, he says.

I’m comforted in the loss of Dawn Lindberg by the characters of Pippin and Gandalf in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. For me, Pippin is even more appropriate because it’s the name of the international musical that Dawn obtained the rights for and produced in South Africa in 1975, which she would care to forget because it was a financial disaster.

Pippin, “I didn’t think it would end this way!” Gandalf, “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured Item

SA government and politicians show bias as Israel conflict escalates



As Israel faced a steady bombardment of deadly rockets fired by terrorist groups in Gaza this week, the South African government, politicians, and activists condemned the Jewish state, ignoring the myriad complexities of the violence.

And as Hamas escalated its barrage of rockets targeting innocent civilians, to which Israel retaliated, there has been no condemnation of Hamas from either the South African government or any of its politicians.

Israel’s right to defend itself and diffuse tensions in a bid to save the lives of all its citizens including Jews, Muslims, and Christians, hasn’t been acknowledged by the government in its condemnation of the Jewish state.

Siding wholly with the Palestinians, the government earlier this week expressed its “deep concern at the continued clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque wherein Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinian worshippers while praying at the holy site”.

The Economic Freedom Fighters said it noted “the genocide” committed by Israel against the Palestinian people during Ramadan, saying “We condemn with contempt the violence perpetrated by the apartheid Israeli state on unarmed Palestinian people.” It called on the government to close down the South African embassy in Israel and recall all its representatives there.

No mention has been made about Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque stockpiling rocks, fireworks, and stone slabs around the site in preparation for violence and attacking Israeli police.

Focusing all its attention on the land dispute and potential eviction of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah, the government ignored a multitude of issues that have contributed to the rising wave of violence since April.

The department of international relations and cooperation (DIRCO) issued a statement saying, “The South African government strongly condemns the attacks and planned evictions of Palestinians from annexed East Jerusalem to make way for Israeli settlements.

“It’s perplexing that during these unprecedented times, as the international community addresses the global challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, Israel is exploiting the situation to advance its de facto annexation of Palestinian land. These acts aren’t only illegal but also risk undermining the viability of a negotiated two-state solution and will have negative consequences on the entire peace process.”

In response to this, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) called on the government, all political parties, and the media to show “even-handedness” and acknowledge the complexity of the situation.

In a joint statement, SAJBD National Chairperson Wendy Kahn and SAZF Chairperson Rowan Polovin, said, “In their determination to condemn Israel come what may, the government has reversed cause and effect. The reality – and not for the first time – is that the initial clashes were deliberately orchestrated by the Palestinian leadership and have now culminated in a lethal barrage of missile fire on Jerusalem and other heavily populated cities.

“Rockets are indiscriminate. They imperil the lives of all who live in the Holy City, whether Jew, Christian, or Muslim. In spite of this, the South African government has chosen to single out Israel for exclusive condemnation, disregarding completely the more than 1 200 deadly rockets fired thus far against Israeli civilians.

“The double standards don’t stop there. Whereas countries throughout the world sent condolences to Israel following the tragic loss of 45 lives in Meron, South Africa has yet to follow suit even two weeks later. However, within 24 hours, it was able to issue a statement condemning Israel.

“If the government, and indeed all political parties, wish to be part of ending this latest tragic outburst of violence, they must show genuine even-handedness. Those who unquestioningly endorse the claims and actions of one side while completely ignoring those of the other do nothing to resolve the conflict. In fact, they only make a bad situation worse.”

They went on to say that demonising Israel, as was the case with certain statements, was “irresponsible, inflammatory, and dangerous”.

The Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Lior Keinan, told the SA Jewish Report that no country in the world would tolerate this level of terror.

He has called on the international community and South Africa to condemn the rocket fire and Palestinian terrorism targeting Israeli citizens in the “strongest manner”, as well as to support Israel’s right to self-defence.

Keinan said that these events were part of a “wave of terror” that was being led by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and were the result of “reckless and irresponsible incitement to violence”.

Concerning earlier violence, he said, “Israel sought to achieve calm in Jerusalem. We took every measure to prevent conflict or violence and to allow freedom of worship. These measures include postponing the Supreme Court hearing regarding Sheikh Jarrah, blocking Jews from visiting the Temple Mount, changing the route of the flag march, and then cancelling the event. Moreover, Israel acted in a measured manner in response to the rockets and incendiary balloons that had been launched from the Gaza Strip to prevent any escalation during this sensitive period.”

He said responsibility for the situation rested completely with Palestinian terrorist organisations and “on the unrestrained incitement by the Palestinian Authority”.

“No country will allow rockets to be fired on its children, women, and men. Israel will take any action necessary to protect its citizens. It’s the right and the duty of every state.”

Meanwhile, small protests were held by pro-Palestinian groups at the Israel Trade Offices in Sandton, Johannesburg, and Cape Town, all of which blamed Israel for being solely responsible for the violence.

Interestingly, in an open letter to DIRCO Minister Naledi Pandor, the South African BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Coalition said it was “extremely disappointed” by DIRCO’s statement about the conflict, calling for more action by the government.

The Democratic Alliance said Israel must “employ maximum restraint in the use of force” adding “violence from both sides must cease in the interest of peace, saving lives, and protecting the human rights of both the Israeli and Palestinian people”.

Dr Corne Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus said, “The ANC government has never tried to hide its hostility towards Israel, and has now once again chosen the terrorist side in the Israel-Palestine conflict. It’s time for the ANC to honour Israel’s sovereignty.

“It’s lamentable that the South African government is always so quick to side with Israel’s opponents and condemn the country,” he said.

In Cape Town, a protest organised by Africa4Palestine (formerly BDS SA), brought a number of anti-Israel groups together. But only about 200 members of the public gathered to condemn Israel, many of them children.

Speaking in front of parliament, the late Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela called for the closure of the South African embassy in Israel. “We are clearly asking South Africa not to downgrade its embassy in Israel, but to close it down!” he shouted to cheers from the crowd. “We also want to deny [Israeli international carrier] El Al from coming into South Africa!” he said to more cheers of support.

He called for South Africans to “boycott products from apartheid Israel. The only thing we expect from our government is to place sanctions on apartheid Israel!” He then called on the crowd to join him on 18 July in Pretoria (the date marked to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s legacy) outside the Israeli embassy in Pretoria. “We want to see it shut down and for the ambassador to leave. We won’t compromise,” Mandela said.

Continue Reading

Featured Item

Rise in anti-Israel sentiment leads to calls for vigilance



The Community Security Organisation (CSO) has witnessed a marked increase in anti-Israel rhetoric as well as expressions of hate directed at Jews online following violence in Israel, and has appealed to the community to be extra vigilant and report all incidents.

Jevon Greenblatt, the director of CSO Johannesburg, told the SA Jewish Report on 12 May that tension in Israel had escalated dramatically over the past few days, with levels of open conflict growing exponentially over the past 48 hours.

“It’s not uncommon for anti-Israel anger around a situation like this to spill over into diaspora Jewish communities,” he said.

“Since Monday, we have seen a significant increase in concerning online rhetoric and numerous protest action called for over the coming days across South Africa.

“We are seeing a huge campaign by the anti-Israel lobby to dehumanise Israel with massive distortions about what’s really happening on the ground.”

Political leaders, social-media influencers, and celebrities are lending their voices to the pro-Palestinian lobby.

“This creates the perfect environment for a potential lone-wolf actor to carry out an attack. Whenever something like this takes place, our concern is that the anger created can be misdirected against the local community.”

He said that while CSO staff and volunteers were working hard to ensure the continued safety and security of the community, it was a “collective effort”.

“Vigilance is crucial. We should always make sure our facilities are as secure as possible, and we should always be doing the best we can to strengthen our security.

“It’s at times like this that we are reminded always to implement the best safety protocols because the threat is always out there.

“It requires the active participation of all community members. We ask you to maintain heightened awareness and report any emergency, potential threats, suspicious activity, or antisemitism related to the Jewish community or Jewish facilities to the CSO on 086 18 000 18 (or 086 18 911 18 in Cape Town).”

Continue Reading

Featured Item

Guarding Jerusalem from the “end of the end” of Israel



The Golan is the true gatekeeper of Jerusalem, particularly in mitigating against the Iranian threat across the border, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Major (Res) Yaakov Selevan said during a talk to commemorate Yom Yerushalayim this week.

“People who live in the Golan claim that it’s the most naturally beautiful region in Israel. But they aren’t living here for the views; they are here because there is something for which they’re willing to die – the redemption of the heart of the Jewish people.”

Selevan, a Jerusalem born-and-bred military official who now works as a tour guide and public speaker, was hosted for the webinar by Mizrachi SA and the South African Zionist Federation, in collaboration with other partners.

Although Selevan grew up with “the Western Wall as my backyard”, he now lives with his wife and three daughters in the Golan. Over the years, he has come to realise how deeply intertwined the fates of these two Israeli regions are.

Logistically, the Golan has always been a key strategic point, both in its proximity to neighbouring countries and major water sources, including the Sea of Galilee. Politically, its significance is even greater.

Even in the Roman era, when Roman soldiers were unable to penetrate the Jewish resistance in Jerusalem, they elected to try and attack from the periphery and move down. At the time, the Golan was rich in Jewish life with more than 30 synagogues. In the year 67, in spite of the efforts of Jewish revolutionaries, after a number of attempts, the Romans did overtake the ancient city of Gamla in the Golan. “They killed more than 4 000 Jews. Jewish independence fell, and then the Romans started moving down towards the heart of the land – Jerusalem. Three years later, we know, the second temple was destroyed.”

Fast forward thousands of years, when the Golan was redeemed from Syrian control by the IDF in the 1967 war, a number of fascinating ancient Jewish artefacts were found. The most striking of which was an ancient coin from the era of the Jewish revolt against Roman control. Engraved in Hebrew, its inscription reads “for the redemption of Jerusalem, the holy”.

In the modern political landscape, the Golan remains a contested hotspot particularly in relation to Iran and its ongoing incursions into the borderlands of Lebanon and Syria.

Selevan said that for many years, Iran had also used Israel and Jews symbolically as a strategy to forge allegiances across Muslim and Arab states that otherwise would be divided across Sunni and Shiite ethnic lines. These distinctions are derived from a dispute over the line of succession after Muhammed.

After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, “Iran wanted to ‘export the revolution’, and it realised it had a problem. While they were Shiites, most of the people around them were Sunni.” So, said Selevan, they chose a “common interest – the holy city of Jerusalem. Who controls the old city of Jerusalem? The filthy Zionists.” Moreover, as enemies across the Arab world sought ways to attack Israel, they turned to Hezbollah, which is supported by Iran.

Iran remains a threat to Israel on a number of levels, Selevan said. The first is its nuclear programme; the second its Precision Guided Munitions project, which designs missiles that use GPS to hit specific targets. Third, is its political take over and proxy power in various countries like Lebanon and Yemen. The next key territory which Iran is looking to control in the region is Syria, itself riddled by a civil war that has been appropriated by a myriad of interests.

In Lebanon, Iran controls networks of tunnels and occupied villages where local people are being used as human shields and whose homes are utilised for the storage of missiles and rockets. It hopes to use the chaos in Syria to take over using a similar model.

However, along with military action, Israel has made huge inroads diplomatically to prevent this, Selevan said.

“Iran used us and Jerusalem as a common interest, a common enemy, and a step in the door to the Sunni world. However, in the past few years, with what’s happening just here in Syria, people in the region are seeing what the Iranians are doing and how they’re taking over this region. They realise that they are next in line: Saudi Arabia, even Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, all these countries said, ‘Oh my G-d, all these years, we thought the Jews were the problem. Now we understand the greatest threat is the Shiites. Who can help us against the Shiites? The Jews!’”

Israel has thus turned Iran into the common interest which is “our step in the door of the Muslim world”. The most recent result is the Abraham Accords peace agreements, said Selevan.

Israel has another way in which it continues to forge towards peace – humanitarian aid.

Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, Israel has helped, offering medical services and distributing food, clothing, and other products for basic needs, proving, “you can stop Iran with baby diapers”.

At its core, the motivation for the action is humanitarian, said Selevan. “We did it because we’re Jewish; we cannot stand by when we see people suffering.”

Nevertheless, it also had an impact on political engagement. Terror groups, such as those under Iranian control, are reliant on local populations for support, access to land, and soldiers. As Israel continues to reach out to her neighbours, “there’s a whole generation growing up in Syria knowing that we’re not the devil”.

Although this doesn’t mean there aren’t still many who are against Israel and are manipulating the aid system, nevertheless there are shifts. For Selevan, this is encompassed by a drawing made by a seven-year-old Syrian Muslim girl. Her portrait of the Israel flag, captioned in Arabic, thanks the Israeli who saved her life.

In spite of the huge upswing of attacks on Israel in recent days, Selevan said he was hopeful. His life in the Golan is a contract between him, his country, and his community.

“I’m here at the end of the end of the end of the country because someone needs to be here, because my community is the greatest answer to the Iranian threat. That’s my purpose. That’s my essence.” Holding out a replica of the Jewish-revolt-era coin, Selevan asserted, “Each and every one of us needs to ask ourselves: what’s my job in the redemption of Jerusalem?”

Continue Reading

Naale Elite Academy