A tribute to community stalwart Nilly Baruch 1944-2019


Full tributes are below:


Nilly was larger than life.

Larger in her infectious enthusiasm. Larger in the way she tackled all that came her way. Larger in her readiness to help and assist without having been asked to do so. Larger in her ability to communicate, to be inclusive, to involve herself, to share her bounty and her skills with all who needed it.

Nilly’s association with WIZO began in Israel in 1970, and on moving to Cape Town, she joined the Gilah Branch. Her skill in fundraising stemmed from her unique ability to sell event tickets or raffle tickets, a task many shy away from, but which Nilly took on wholeheartedly for the many causes she supported, and especially for WIZO. She received her REBECCA SIEFF AWARD for 40 years’ service in 2010. 

This service, she continued to give willingly and with great warmth and passion until her untimely passing. Nilly’s care for all in need, her devotion to WIZO SOUTH AFRICA’s specific projects in Israel, and passionate support for WIZO projects dealing with the Status  of Women as well as combatting Gender Abuse and Violence proved a driving force.

WIZO will sorely miss Nilly’s physical presence, her warmth, kindness, passion and compassion and her love of life, and giving back.

World ORT, ORTSA Cape and ORTJET

Our dear friend and colleague, Nilly Baruch, was admired for her selfless devotion to others and her tireless commitment to World ORT; ORT SA Cape & ORT JET. Nilly was the Vice-chair of ORT SA Cape and always represented South Africa with great pride at the World ORT Board of Trustees meetings held in various parts of the world.

Nilly brought people together from disparate communities and different backgrounds and often unified them to support projects in need. The lack of education for the poor was a major concern of hers. She fervently wanted to start an ORT school in Cape Town so that children in impoverished areas could benefit from an ORT education and with that goal in mind, she was an active supporter of ORT SA Cape’s teacher training programmes and its focus on Early Childhood Education.

She was also involved in ORT JET for about 15 years and was given the title of Honorary President. She always went above and beyond the call of duty, making a difference and giving of herself entirely to the community in a remarkable way.

Nilly Baruch has left a legacy for all in the social and non-profit sector – with a positive attitude, integrity and perseverance anything can be achieved. She will always be in our memories and forever missed by the board and team at ORT SA Cape and ORT JET Cape Town.

Community Security Organisation

Nilly Baruch was a proud supporter of CSO and played an integral role in the establishment of the CSO Control Room.

South African Zionist Federation, Cape Council

Nilly Baruch will be sorely missed by all her colleagues and friends in the South African Zionist Federation. Her sudden death has left a deep void in our organisation where she played an important part over many years in promoting Zionism and strengthening the bonds between our community and Israel.

Nilly served on the Council of the SAZF for many years, representing organisations like Ort and the Union of Jewish Women. She was later elected onto our management committee where her love for Israel was demonstrated in so many ways. She organized functions, was an excellent fund-raiser and hosted many prominent visitors from Israel and abroad in her beautiful home, together with her husband Tzvi.

Nilly was a pioneer in the field of building support for Israel in the Christian community and she undertook this vital task with sincerity and dedication. One of the results of her efforts in Cape Town was the establishment of the South African Friends of Israel.

More recently she chaired the Partnership 2000 organization which twins our community with Beth Shemesh in Israel and in that capacity hosted and attended many meetings and events both in Cape Town and Israel.

Nilly loved people and thereby communicated her enthusiasm so effectively.

Only a few months ago she, together with her good friend Naomi Hadar, arranged the highly successful launch of the South African Friends of Sheba Medical Centre in Cape Town. 

Nilly had an instrumental hand in organizing this special event, which included participants from the local Jewish community, South African Parliament members and medical doctors both from South Africa and Sheba.

She also hosted a special meeting in February this year to set up the South African Friends of Haifa University and, as usual, she did everything to make it an enjoyable and meaningful event.

Nilly and her husband Tzvi attended many conferences in Israel and other countries.

She was a woman of exceptional warmth, generosity and kindness and endeared herself to so many in our community and beyond. 

Her valuable qualities of leadership and guidance will be sorely missed.

Eliot Osrin Leadership Institute

Nilly Baruch (Z”L) was a visionary and bold leader.  Never daunted by the task, she breathed life into organisations and new ideas.

She cared deeply about the community and left her mark on a wide range of organisations.

Nilly always demonstrated compassion, generosity and determination, leading from the front as an invested team player.  

This is Nilly’s legacy and the community is in gratitude to her.  

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

Union of Jewish Women

One of the Cape Town Jewish community’s most exemplary and beloved figures, Nilly Baruch, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly recently, and has left her family and the Union of Jewish Women in shock and bewilderment.

Nilly was so many things to so many people.  A wonderful wife, a proud mother, an adoring grandmother, and a dedicated and committed communal worker within different sectors of the community.  She was warm and gracious to all those fortunate enough to know her well and to work with her.  Her charm and acceptance of everyone irrespective of their positions or shortcomings were legendary, and she made an immense impact on them all. She was the catalyst in starting ‘Yad Sara’ a UJW project that hires out medical equipment to the public at a nominal fee.

It was impossible not to admire or even emulate Nilly in the example she set for those around her, and those who were recipients of her largesse.  She was the archetypal hospitable hostess; a fervent believer in the importance of giving back to the community from which she derived so much pleasure and stimulation; devoted to the principles she held so dear; and dynamic in thought and action.  Nothing asked of her was too much for her to achieve, and she did it all with a smile, warm words, and encouragement.

In the roles she played in the Union of Jewish Women since the late 1980’s, as a past chairman, and recently vice chairman and an Honorary member of the UJW, Cape Town is well recorded. She influenced those around her and by so doing, made the world a better place.  She was innovative and forward thinking, coming up with great ideas and solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems with which others battled and often discarded.

She will be sorely missed.  Her death has left a void in the Union Of Jewish Women and the community that will be hard to fill – she was a unique personality. 

Rest in peace, dear Nilly – you left us too soon.

Jewish Community Services

Jewish Community Services were saddened to hear of the sudden loss of Nilly Baruch.

She gave of herself unconditionally to the welfare of the Jewish Community. Assisting and supporting those in need, and always offering her services.

She had total focus on any project that she worked with, she lived a life of courage, beauty and integrity.

Nilly will be sorely missed by all that came into contact with her.

Oranjia Children’s Home

Nilly was a true Eshet Chayal; she gave of her time and Chaired many organizations.

Nilly was an incredible host and was generous to a fault, always immaculately dressed with her signature red lipstick.

She will be sorely by the entire community.

To read the full PDF of the Cape Jewish Chronicle, click here
To read the editor’s column for August, click here
To read our most popular story for July, click here


  1. I was impressed to read all the response and praise on Nili blessed memory.
    We all knew Nili and appreciate her grate ambition and kindness .
    Nili will be sorely missed.

  2. Thank you for this incredible tribute to my late mother, Nilly Baruch! Wow – no words. All I can say is that our community is amazing. Really appreciate this. She definitely left a legacy. Best wishes, Michal


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