An example to all of us

Recently, a memory popped into my head that I thought I’d share with you.  I recalled my nephew, then aged 9 or 10, coming home and sharing his excitement after having gone off to watch a big international rugby match at the home of a new school friend. He mentioned the names of the others watching the game with him, saying, “Kyle was there, and Robbie, Jason, Raymond, and Chad.”

I recognised the names of most of the boys he mentioned but one didn’t ring a bell as being from his school class. “Who’s Raymond?” I asked. “Oh, he’s Robbie’s grandfather. He’s such a friendly man.”

I was shocked because I knew that the grandfather was Raymond Ackerman. How could my 10-year-old nephew call him by his first name? So, I told him that, if he were to see ‘Raymond’ again, he should call him ‘Mr Ackerman’.

I subsequently realised how wrong I was. Raymond Ackerman was a man without airs and graces, a special human being who saw everyone as his equal. And so, it would have been quite natural for him to have introduced himself to the children by his first name – and to be comfortable with them talking to him in an informal way, as if he were just another kid from school.

Since the passing of the late Raymond Ackerman a short while ago, I have heard and read so many positive comments about him. It’s clear that he truly was someone who had that unique knack of making everyone feel important and at ease in his presence, no matter their station in life.

Over and above Raymond’s tremendous philanthropy and his leadership in business was his strength as a human being. He epitomised the sort of person we should all strive to be. Thanks, Raymond, for the incredible example you have been to all of us.

While we, sadly, note the passing of a giant in our community, we also welcome new people to leadership roles. And so, in this issue, we announce the appointment of two new senior staff members: Helen Schneider, as Executive Director of the United Jewish Campaign, and Jakub (Kuba) Nowakowski, as the new Director of the Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre.

We also continue with our fairly new focus areas in law, medicine and health, entrepreneurial activities, and books. The Health Focus article this month is particularly interesting: it looks at the high incidence of genetic mutations within the Ashkenazi community, and preventative actions that can be taken.

See also the information about the Mensch Mitzvah Day – a wonderful initiative to get you involved in working to improve the lives of others.

Finally, if you know of something newsworthy within our community, please share the details with the Chronicle, so that we can help to communicate it to others.

Wishing you a good read! 

• Published in the October 2023 issue – Click here to start reading.

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