Sparking the Flame

Shaka Sisulu speaking at the South African Young Jewish Innovators Gathering.

by Devorah Perkel

The South African Young Jewish Innovators Gathering, held in Johannesburg on February 11-12 and sponsored by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Sasfin Bank, far exceeded expectations. The experience was a cocoon for meaningful connection and a catalyst for powerful action.

From the start after Shabbat right through to the conclusion Sunday night, the gathering created a transformational space in which creative ideas could be shared openly. I feel a deep sense of pride in knowing that I belong to a wider Jewish community that has within its midst a cadre of people with immense potential for changing our community, our country and the broader world. I also feel pride for the connection our community has with the people pioneering broad-scale change across South Africa. It is through this profound collaboration of influential people that real evolution in South Africa can and will happen.

I was blown away by Shaka Sisulu’s talk displaying humour, humility and compassion, and in his immense endeavours to make a difference in this country by inspiring other young South Africans. His organization Cheesekids – a “youth-oriented community service platform, encouraging young South Africans of privilege to individually contribute regularly to the upliftment and empowerment of our more marginalised communities” – is something South Africa can be proud of.

Dr. Taddy Blecher humbly told the story of how his family moved to South Africa and, against all odds, facing huge adversity, created something truly innovative: the free education movement in South Africa. His words tugged at the audience’s heart strings. His CIDA City Campus, amongst other great creations, serves as a model for tertiary education in the developing world today.

The passion that came through his story reminded me never to lose sight of the greater vision, of the power of connecting with the meaning and purpose in the work we do.

There were many other speakers and delegates who shared their vision and stories. This sharing made me realize how many people amongst us are doing profound work in many different fields, and through collaboration and connection, we can make change happen in this country that will set the stage for the generations to come.

Through Ubuntu, let’s connect. Let’s witness the fire that burns in the inspired one’s around us, and let’s spark each other’s flames! This is the South Africa of which we can all be proud.

Devorah Perkel is the Regional HR Generalist for the Cape Union Mart Group. With her passion for inspiring people, she has involved herself in the coaching arena and has cumulatively worked in the people industry for 10 years. Her aim is to identify the potential in others and help them activate their potential to achieve ultimate results, personally and professionally.