Jewish history is replete with stories of once-flourishing communities succumbing to financial hardships.
Many leading communities that once boasted a full spectrum of Jewish services are now struggling to meet the most basic needs of their community members — or worse yet, these communities no longer exist. Cape Town’s Jewish communal leadership are committed to preserving this community and its multi-faceted manifestations of Jewish life, even if we are faced with such challenges. It was with this responsibility in mind that the David Susman Community Foundation (DSCF) was established some three and a half years ago.
While David Susman is best remembered for his phenomenal business acumen (he was instrumental in the merger of Woolworths and Truworths to form Wooltru, and served as its chairperson) he was also a stalwart communal leader.
He served this community in a variety of lay-leadership capacities and for many years he ranked amongst its most magnanimous donors. Consequently, it is only appropriate that the David Susman Community Foundation, an instrument by which Cape Town’s Jewish community seeks to protect our vibrant community for future generations, is named after this man.
He exemplified an all-too-rare sense of community spirit framed with humility and dignity. Chaired by Marco Van Embden who first conceptualised of a community foundation, the DSCF will build a capital base of R50 million which will serve to ‘future-proof’ our community for generations to come. Marco assumed the role of chairperson from first chair John Rabb after he relocated to London.
John is a nephew of the late David Susman. The Friends of the UJC The fund presently stands at approximately R16 million. Under the leadership of its trustees Steven Cohen, Steven Nathan, John Rabb, David Resnick, Samuel Seeff, Simon Susman and Marco Van Embden, these funds have been invested so as to garner positive growth and returns for the community.
The revenue from these investments will be made available to the United Jewish Campaign, the community’s central fundraising body, in the event that the campaign is unable to meet the needs of the 27 Jewish organisations that rely upon it in order to balance their annual budgets.
Of the David Susman Community Foundation total of R16 million, R6 million is the result of the efforts of the Friends of the United Jewish Campaign.
The Friends of the UJC seeks to engage people in philanthropic endeavours who reside abroad but maintain part-time residences in Cape Town. The Friends of the UJC hosts an annual event for these part-time residents of the Mother City, at which the community seeks to secure their charitable support. The David Susman Community Foundation is the sole beneficiary of the Friends of the UJC.
While the future can never be foretold, it is heartening to know that our leaders are working tirelessly to ensure that Jewish life exists in Cape Town from generation to generation. Once the fund reaches its target, we can be relatively secure in the knowledge that even in extreme circumstances this community will be able to maintain its multifaceted operations, which affect the lives of practically all the Jewish residents of Cape Town.
We hope that our community will follow the example of David Susman and invest in a new generation of the South African Jewish community.