Phyllis Friedlander z”l made a huge contribution to the people of Cape Town

The Cape Town Jewish community has lost yet another remarkable individual with the passing of Phyllis Friedlander Z”l. The longest-serving member of the Cape Town executive of the Union of Jewish Women (UJW), she made an impact in numerous ways.

Her involvement with the UJW goes back many years, since she first joined the Toni Saphra Branch in 1951. Her hard work for the organisation saw her serving as Deputy Chair in 1976, and then as Chair from 1976 to 1979. Phyllis’s contribution to the UJW has been recognised over the years through her being named an Honorary Life Vice-President of the Cape Town Branch of the UJW and an Honorary Life Member of the National UJW.

Aside from her leadership role both with the UJW and as the Mayoress of Cape Town, Phyllis will be fondly remembered for the meaningful initiatives she powered, projects geared to improve the lives of many citizens of Cape Town. These included the establishment of Meals on Wheels, a project that continues to positively impact many in our community. Through her leadership, the UJW also became synonymous with providing financial support for the Hebrew Nursery Schools. This included a unique initiative: the Saplings school, which provided for children with special needs, allowing them to move into mainstream primary schooling.

A strong Zionist, Phyllis also gave of her time and knowledge to the Rotary movement, and was involved in many local outreach programmes.

Her daughter, Serena Arnoni, comments: “We have also lost a storyteller, who spanned the generations. She was passionate about family. She carried the memory of those generations that had come before from Sassmaken and Riga, Latvia, and Uman. She spoke eloquently about those forebears as she transmitted that knowledge to the next generations: her three children, seven grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. We have lost a critical link to our past.”

Known and loved by many in our community, Phyllis led a generous meaningful life. She was intelligent and wise, thoughtful with a warm and friendly disposition.

She will be sorely missed. 

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

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