Five decades of dedication

Five decades of dedication

Community leader Eliot Osrin recently reached two milestones — five decades of communal involvement, and his 80th birthday.

It is not often that we find people who have worked to better our community for half a century, and therefore a special celebration was held to honour Eliot, his work and his vision. The evening was equally in tribute to Eliot’s indomitable wife Myra, who has stood by his side; encouraged his work and in her own right contributed immeasurably to the community.

Philip Krawitz opened the evening with a special tribute to Eliot; followed by a moving and poignant performance by the Herzlia school choir. A timeless rendition of the school song was followed by ‘Circle of Life’, alluding to Eliot’s lifetime commitment to the community and passing his legacy on to the next generation. A Hebrew song concluded the recital, paying tribute to Eliot’s love of Israel and the Jewish people. Beautifully arranged by Aviva Pelham and Ivor Joffe, the Herzlia Ensemble showed just a small aspect of the school that Eliot has worked so hard to grow and support.

A ‘life story’ video of Eliot’s work, told by those who have worked with him and know him best; explained the essence of his involvement in the Cape Town Jewish community. It was evident that Eliot is not only passionate, but also has the ability to pass this drive on to others, which in turn creates a community that will continue to confront its challenges and reach its potential.

In a humourous and moving speech, Eliot paid tribute to those who laid the very foundations of the community: “We need to acknowledge that the foundations were laid many decades ago by immigrants and refugees,
establishing a whole network of welfare and educational institutions. These communal giants showed amazing courage, optimism and vision, which is truly inspiring — and enabled following generations to build on to what we have today,” he said.

“Whilst I have devoted much time and energy to the community, I need to acknowledge that it gave me enormous personal satisfaction. To the extent that I was successful in making a difference, the secret to my success was that I often bit off more than I could chew, and then I chewed as fast as I could!” he quipped.

“In summing up Myra and my contribution to the community, I don’t think I can do better than quote Arnold Schwarzenegger who said ‘I guarantee you will discover that, while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring to your own life.’”