Know your Board

Simone Sulcas and Dawn Nathan-Jones

We decided it’s high time we spotlight the individuals who make up our Board! After all, they are there to represent you and ensure your voice is heard when engaging with leading figures in the political, media and administrative spheres. Each month, two Board members will answer a series of questions that shed light on their reasons for serving on the Board, and their response to key issues relevant to our community. So, keep an eye out, and get to know your Board!

Dawn Nathan-Jones

Chairperson, Associate Relations subcommittee

Why did you join the Board?
When I moved to Cape Town a few years ago, I was very taken by the warmth and hospitality I experienced from people in the community. After being invited to give a few talks to some of the Jewish associations and shuls, I was honoured to be approached to stand for the Board election in July 2020. Given that we were in the middle of a pandemic, it seemed like the right time to become more involved. I was inspired by the vision of the Board and believed I could make a contribution given my 35 years’ worth of business, leadership and entrepreneurial experience. My goal was — and still is — to both shift the sometimes negative rhetoric we face as Jewish people, as well as to amplify all of our impact-driven work so that more of the community and outside world can connect with us, identify with us, and buy into our greater purpose.

What do you hope to achieve during your term of office?
My mission has been to use the three pillars of the Cape SAJBD: to Engage, Educate and Empower, in every sphere of my involvement with stakeholders whether they be political, local government, business, interfaith organisations, affiliate bodies or media. We live in a world where media shapes and drives public opinion and I feel it is important to not only create a balanced perspective of the Jewish people, but to find new ways to bring to life for others, the inclusive role that the Board works so hard to cultivate.

What other community organisations are you involved in?
In Cape Town, I have worked closely with ORT Jet as I am passionate about developing talent and future leaders in our community. I have been a judge for the ABSA Jewish Achievers Awards for many years and I initiated an award for Jewish Women in Leadership which has become an important platform to recognise and promote the great leaders and entrepreneurs in the community. For the last two years, I’ve been a judge for the Shining Light Awards, an initiative started by Staffwise and ORT Jet.

What are your passions?
One of my greatest passions is to work with small businesses and entrepreneurs to build an ecosystem that provides mentorship and networking opportunities to help alleviate the unemployment crisis we have in our country and ignite a sense of hope. As a business leader and an activist for change, nothing gets my blood pumping more than witnessing someone transcend what they think they’re capable of — especially the youth of this country. This is what inspired me to co-write the book Hope Stories, a collection of short stories about ordinary people who did extraordinary things during our hard lockdown and in times of fear and uncertainty.

What is your vision for the community?
My vision is to help amplify the many contributions the Jewish people make to the local economy, community, education system and political landscape of this country. I want to further advance the positive cycle of impact-driven work we achieve; but to do this we need proactive engagement with all members of the community, to be open to innovative and controversial ideas, and to involve the broader business fraternity and the youth to harness their knowledge, energy and passion to find new solutions to historic challenges.

What do you think is unique about our Jewish community?
The unspoken, unshakeable bond binding the Jewish people together during times of need is remarkable. I am proud to be Jewish because of the unconditional and selfless acts of kindness that permeate throughout the community. Our societal contributions know no bounds.

Simone Sulcas

Chairperson, Antisemitism and Legal subcommittee

Why did you join the Board?
I am motivated and inspired by the work of the Board and believed that my professional experience and qualifications would add value. I felt the time had come for me to give back to the Jewish community in a way that was both meaningful to me and impactful to the community. I felt my logical thinking and measured approach to the decision-making process would allow me to bring a measured voice to the table. I am a team player who values the opinions of others and is open to learning, I saw this as an opportunity to delve deeper into the issues currently facing our community.

What do you hope to achieve during your term of office?
As Chairperson of the Board’s Antisemitism and Legal sub-committee, I have used my legal experience and professionalism to advise the Board on antisemitism cases reported in, and drive Board initiatives aimed at informing the community of legal developments. The bare minimum, in my opinion, is to fulfil our mandate to protect the civil and political rights, status and welfare of our Western Cape Jewish community. I hope to surpass expectations and deliver the kind of service that our community deserves. The cohesion and teamwork between our lay leaders and our professional team will ensure our success.

What other community organisations are you involved in?
I work full-time as Group Legal Advisor for a much-loved South African retailer. I have also assisted various Cape Town Jewish organisations over the years in a legal capacity and am a 2018 Graduate of the Eliot Osrin Leadership Institute.

What are your passions?
Learning new things is my driving passion. It spills into everything I do and shapes me as an individual. I am married with two children and am passionate about ensuring my family’s and community’s wellbeing in an inclusive South Africa.

What is your vision for the community?
The late Eliot Osrin was the ultimate visionary for the Cape Town Jewish community with his leadership and strategic foresight. My vision for the community is for his legacy to continue with strong new leaders and a community that feels heard, and wants to stay involved in Jewish community life.

What do you think is unique about our Jewish community?
I think the question is best answered by referring to the many times people comment on how our community takes care of its people. Be it the CSO Cape Town, SAUJS on campus, the Bursary Funds or the JCS, there is help and support for those who reach out. It is a privilege to ‘do my bit’ for this incredible community.

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• Published in the PDF edition of the March 2022 issue – Click here to get it.

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