The United Jewish Campaign’s most generous contributors came together for the annual Top Donors’ Dinner on 6 March.
The evening took place at the Lookout venue at the V & A Waterfront, which was decorated in a modern and minimalist style. Sleek white tables were adorned with candles and mirrors to create an intimate atmosphere, accentuated with touches of red around the room. The venue was greatly appreciated by the audience of 310 people.
Highlights of the evening included a masterful DVD produced by Shawn Levin showcasing the strength of the Cape Town Jewish community. The video barely left a dry eye in the house! Danny Glicksberg from Israel spoke movingly about the work he is doing as part of Ayalim, an organisation funded by Keren Hayesod. Ayalim is working to harness the idealism of young adults in Israel and is promoting the construction of student villages in the Negev and Galilee. These under-populated and under-serviced areas of Israel benefit greatly from the influx of students.
David Bloom of Telfed, one of the campaign’s newest beneficiaries, spoke about the amazing work being done by this organisation to provide critical services to Southern African olim in Israel.
Michael Barr, the UJC’s new Chairman, shone as MC, with a combination of wit, humour and hard-hitting information. The keynote address by Dr. Aaron David Miller left everyone enthralled. Dr. Miller is an expert on the Middle East and US foreign policy towards that region. He spoke passionately about the current climate and invoked President Kennedy’s ‘idealism without illusions’ as a lens through which to cast his analysis.
The evening also afforded the donors the opportunity to hear about the campaign’s performance in 2012, which saw inflows of R56,549,968.51 from local sources: R54,767,808.07 in pledges, with a further R1,782,160.44 having been bequeathed to the community. In addition, the Friends of the UJC, which raises funds from donors who maintain part-year residences in Cape Town, secured R4,72 million to support the David Susman Community Foundation.
Impetus for excellence
The campaign must achieve pledge revenue of R60,000,000 to meet its fundraising obligations in 2013. This enormous task got off to a great start with the phenomenal generosity showcased by those in attendance. The UJC is confident of a challenging but fruitful year ahead.
A very special moment in the proceedings came when Eliot Osrin introduced the Gerald Kleinman Award for Outstanding Service to the United Jewish Campaign. Gerald Kleinman has served this community with absolute distinction for the better part of three decades. This annual award will be given to an individual who emulates some of the qualities for which Gerald is so greatly admired. The first award recipient is Ronnie Stein, whose leadership of the Allocations process assures all the campaign’s donors that their resources are being used effectively and credibly. Ronnie pours hundreds of hours into analysing every organisation’s books, management structures and governance. This community is deeply indebted to him.
Thanks for a splendid evening must be extended to Investec, whose sponsorship makes so much possible and who enhance the workings of the UJC. Merle Rubin outdid herself as always with scrumptious fare. Special mention must be made of Aviva Pelham who performed excerpts from her highly acclaimed play ‘Santa’s Story’. All in all, a highly successful and enjoyable evening was had by all. The launch gave a great start to the year’s fundraising efforts, which must now be perpetuated.