UJC Top Donors Evening

Standing: David and Kathy Robins and Sheryl and Stephen Koseff. Seated: Sheila and Eric Samson and Wendy and Raymond Ackerman.

The Top Donors Dinner hosted by the United Jewish Campaign has for long been one of the highlights of the local Jewish calendar and this year’s event held at the Bay Hotel on 9 March was once again a glittering, emorable affair.

Guests were blessed with a mild, azure evening, which Camps Bay on its best behaviour can provide as they
gathered in the beautiful Rotunda Ball Room.

The three-course meal presented by Merle Rubin was exceptional, even by her standards, beginning with a magnificent array of hors d’oeuvres, continuing with a delectable main course of fish and closing with a sumptuous selection of desserts.

The 230 guests were entertained by the Russ Nerwich Quartet, who were pleasant without being intrusive and the Cape Town-based three divas who style themselves ‘Three Tons of Fun’, urged on their audience to lap and stomp and dance in the aisles.

The serious business of the evening began with an address by Irit Barash, director of the English Speaking Countries within the ambit of Keren Hayesod. She was introduced by David Robins, new chairman of UJC.

Irit emphasised the importance of the partnership that has long existed between Israel and South African jewry. Israel needs to know periodically that South Africa is behind them, she said, and Keren Hayesod — as is Israel — is and will always be of importance to all Jews of the diaspora.

Marco van Embden presented the results of the 2009 Campaign, facilitating his explanations with charts.

He considered the Campaign as having been very successful, despite the recession. The target for 2009 was R43.5 million, of which R43.4 million was pledged, showing a 7% increase over the 2008 campaign year.

Of the R43.4 million, R36.8 million (84.8%) was pledged by Top Donors. This indicates how essential it is that smaller donors should also play their part in the Campaign.

The professional canvassers surpassed their target of R4.4 million, collecting R5.6 million in 2009, noted Marco, adding that a significant and pleasing aspect of the 2009 Campaign was that the number of new donors — that is donors who had not contributed in 2008 — totalled 483. Their contributions totalled R1.7 million.

To satisfy the requirements of all the beneficiaries, the target for the 2010 Campaign has been set at almost R47 million. It is a big ask, he said, but he was confident it will be met. He was happy to have a successor in David Robins and wished him well.

Marco was given a huge ovation as he stepped down from the podium.

David Robins then addressed the gathering, explaining the importance of the Campaign to the Jewish community and exhorting all to give their best support to each of the three sections — the Israel United appeal, the United Communal Fund and Jewish Care Cape.

The showing of a specially made DVD, focusing on the work of several of the Welfare institutions, left a deep impression on all present. It made one realise how vital it is that we maintain our institutions within the fabric of our Jewish community.

As Investec were the main sponsors of the event, it was fitting that their CEO, Stephen Koseff, delivered the keynote address, entitled ‘A bankers view of the economic situation in South Africa in 2009 and 2010’.

The overriding impression he gave was that 2009 was a tough year in the banking world, but the worst was over and he was cautiously optimistic when viewing the year ahead.

Philip Krawitz thanked the speaker for his interesting and informative address.

So ended another successful Top Donors Dinner — enjoyed by all.


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