Newcomers enjoy communal hospitality at UJC cocktail party

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Mayor Helen Zille and UHS chairman Brian Goldberg

“The breakaway party is very good for South Africa”, Mayor Helen Zille told the guests at a United Jewish Campaign cocktail party on Thursday evening, 13 November, to welcome Jewish newcomers to Cape Town, and introduce them to Jewish leadership and community organisations. It would loosen the political log-jam by legitimising the right of people to vote for a party other than the ANC without feeling a sense of disloyalty.

Nina Kovensky opened the proceedings and Marco Van Embden, chairman of the UJC, welcomed Mayor Zille and the newcomers, 25 families and over 40 beneficiaries to the gathering. On behalf of the City, Mayor Zille extended a warm welcome to the new residents and thanked them for settling here.

“We need to attract middle class people who can bring jobs, investments and tax income in order to ensure job opportunities. Thank goodness they choose to stay and invest. If they don’t, it would be much harder for us and for the poorer residents, because people like you pay your rates and taxes and we use this money to make life more bearable for the poor.”

Cape Town’s population had increased from 800 000 to 3.4 million in the past fifty years and was growing at the rate of 80 000 per year and it was important to attract and build a strong middle class. Smaller businesses also created employment opportunities. With 25% unemployment and a housing shortage of 400 000 units, conflict developed along those fault lines. People who believed in the city and invested in the city made an enormous difference to way she could run it.

“What looks like racial or religious conflict is a conflict for resources. Extreme poverty militates against the creation of an open society.”

Community shaliach Yossi Eshed his
wife Idit, and children Shir, Guy and Ron.

Despite the recession, Cape Town continued to be attractive and was faring better than elsewhere. It was the gateway to Africa and the mayor predicted a significant South African economic turn-around. The greatest risk to any developing democracy, she believed, was an undeveloped economy and people without skills entering the middle class through cronyism. Promotion should be on merit.

Mayor Zille thanked the UJC and the Jewish community for all it did for Cape Town and for South Africa. The vibrant Jewish community had made a huge spiritual, political, economic, cultural and academic contribution to the city — in every way one could think of. When she had served on the governing body of her children’s school, she found that 70% of the governing body was made up of Jewish parents, even though their children represented only 10% of the school.

Cape Town’s Jewish cultural and religious leadership helped make the city a more open society and many Jewish organisations like the UHS, the Board and the UJW were very proactive in building bridges in the community and made an enormous contribution. She particularly singled out the work of Ikamva Labantu.

The Ross Family

She often sought advice from Jewish people because they thought laterally, innovatively and strategically. One such example was the Green Point Stadium. She had inherited the decision when she took over the city and Jewish advisers had helped her put together a suitable package to prevent it becoming a longterm burden for the city.

UHS chairman Brian Goldberg thanked Mayor Zille for her presence and addressing the gathering, and gave her a beautiful presentation from Giftime, made at Astra Centre, one of the beneficiaries of the UJC.

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