By Joel Merris
On Tuesday 31 January 2023 we said a final goodbye to a special friend and respected communal leader.
Alison Katzeff was an outstanding communal leader, mentor and a generous philanthropist. She gave selflessly of herself to our Cape Town Jewish Community, and her kindness and generosity knew no bounds. The impact of her passing will be felt in the Jewish World, far beyond our borders.
Alison served our Cape Town Jewish community with distinction in various leadership positions; as a member of the United Herzlia Schools governing body, serving as chairperson from 2006 to 2008; trustee of United Herzlia Schools and a member of its Foundation Advisory Board; trustee and treasurer of the Yeshiva of Cape Town; executive committee member and trustee of the Claremont Wynberg Hebrew Congregation; and as a member of the Cape Town Jewish Community Priorities Board. Most recently Alison served as chairperson of the UJC from 2014, for six and a half years — the longest term in the organisation’s history.
A passionate Zionist with a great love of Israel, in 2018 Alison was the worthy recipient of the Yakir Keren Hayesod Award for her vision, her extraordinary leadership and her unwavering dedication.
The Sages teach in Ethics of the Fathers: “One who runs away from honour will find honour chasing after him. One who chases after honour will find honour running away from him.”
Never one to chase after kavod (honour), Alison always avoided the limelight and worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the viability and prosperity of our communal organisations. We will remember Alison for her selfless service and dedication to our community and for her unwavering devotion to promoting and supporting Torah and Yiddishkeit in Cape Town. An outstanding communal leader and a true Eishet Chayil.
On Sunday 29 January 2023 I lost a special friend and mentor. But Alison was so much more than that. She taught me about leadership; humility, integrity, pursuit of justice, selflessness, kindness and, above all, the importance of being principled — defending what is right and being true to yourself. She often called me her ‘little brother’ — something I always held as a special compliment. On Sunday 29 January 2023 I lost so much more than a friend and mentor… I lost a ‘big sister’!
Alison was an accomplished businesswoman, generous philanthropist and an outstanding communal leader. But, first and foremost, she was a devoted and loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister and aunt. We wish Howard, Yael, Oren and the Katzeff and Berk families long life. May you be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may Alison’s memory always be for a blessing.
• Published in the February 2023 Digital Edition – Click here to read it.
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