Straight out of matric, I was very fortunate and blessed to land a job with a South African food manufacturer in 1983. My managing director was Jewish. He was the ultimate mensch who shaped and moulded my career.
Thus began the start of a 23-year journey that would take me to the pinnacle of business society, ending in 2006 when I was retrenched due to the business being sold to a major conglomerate.
Over those years I was exposed to Jewish tradition and had the opportunity of meeting Clive Weil (Checkers) and Raymond Ackerman, both doyens of the SA retailing industry. I never worked on a Saturday (Jewish Day of Sabbath) and enjoyed the perks of Jewish holidays. The Jewish influence rubbed off easily on me and over the years I was rewarded handsomely for my honesty, loyalty and perseverance in the workplace.
I did an opinion piece in The New Age newspaper in July 2011 about Arthur Goldriech and his fellow Jews who were involved in the Struggle against apartheid, for which I received accolades from the SA Jewish Board of Deputies.
All the stalwarts were there
–- Ruth First, Joe Slovo, Rusty Bernstein , Harold Wolpe and Dennis Goldberg, to name but a few. They sacrificed their families and lives for the freedom you and I enjoy today.
They took a risk that others of their background and social status never took. Today, they have lost the battle but the war has been won. Besides being prominent strategists within the ANC underground, they formed the nexus of the SACP.
Enter a new generation Jew, king of social media, businessman, philanthropist, explosive political activist and meanderer of sorts, one Howard Sackstein. Sackstein is chairperson of the SA Jewish Report in which he recently wrote an article, “Is it time to go?”. An attack on the SA government’s betrayal of the Jewish people and states that they gave back to SA more than what they received!
Embroidered in his words are stitches of vitriolic contempt as he tries to weave a tapestry of betrayal.
Although I condemn the savagery and killing of women and children in Gaza in the strongest terms, I sit on the fence when it comes to the SA Jewish community, my mind ambushed by introspection, yielding only convoluted ambivalence. Is this the voice of all South African Jews?
The genius of Sol Kerzner gave us world-class holiday resorts and hotels. Simon Susman gave us Woolworths and Robert Brozin gave us Nando’s. Who can forget the “White Zulu”, Johnny Clegg and his Afro music? But the pain and the scars of the Holocaust run deep.
I have just heard that Israeli Airlines will run their last flight from Tel Aviv to Joburg on March 27.
Will the next flight to SA be to pick up Jewish nationals? Is it time to go?
* Kevin Govender.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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