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HED 42 on Sunday, July 25, 2021

Building Back from the Brink – A South African Update

As South Africans reckon with a week that fundamentally reshaped our understanding of our country and society, we ask where the country goes as it attempts to re-establish stability and economic activity. A week of unprecedented anger and destruction saw the country at its best and worst, from the looting of a blood bank to communities coming together to protect and rebuild. We are now left to ask ourselves hard questions about how we came to the brink of insurrection, what we need to do to move forward and what this tells us about South Africa’s nascent, fragile democracy.

With Panelists:

Khaya Sithole is known as the numbers guy who likes to pay it forward. He is an accountant, academic and activist who writes and presents on finance, economics and politics. He is the founder of Corusca Advisory Group and Chair of the Financial Sector Transformation Council.  

Karen Milner is national vice chair of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and chair of the Gauteng Council of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies. She is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Wits and recently co-authored Beyond Tea and Tissues: Protecting and Promoting Mental Health at Work. She is also a partner to Laurence Milner who was involved in Habonim and a mom to kids who miss Habonim Machaneh (camp).

Rafael Friedman is a strategy consultant with a background in the non-profit sector. He holds degrees in international relations and law from the University of Cambridge and the University of the Witwatersrand. He spent eight years in Habonim as a channich and a madrich, with two years on the Hanhagah and three on the va’ad machaneh – culminating in the bright lights of stores as Rosh Ekonom.

Johnny Copelyn  is CEO of Hosken Consolidated Investments (“HCI”), a South African black empowerment company, and Impact’s largest shareholder. He spent 20 years organising textile and clothing workers primarily in the areas hardest hit by the looting. His companies own eNCA (the 24 hour news channel). Prior to joining HCI he was a member of Parliament and general secretary of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union. He is a former member of Habonim.

Personal perspectives

Ittamar Avin is the son of Zalman Avin, esteemed second principal of Herzlia. He was involved in Habonim from 1952 to 1961 and was a madrich of Mashtelah Tel Yosef in Oranjezicht, Cape Town. He attended the inaugural Machaneh at Onrus. He taught at the University of KwaZulu-Natal from 1975 to 2002. Some years ago Ittamar went back to University as an undergraduate and caused a bit of a flurry in the South African media in 2020 when he graduated with a BA degree at the age of 77.

Terri Pillemer– is a sweet store owner in Durban at Gateway Mall. Originally from Johannesburg, she married into the famous Habonim Durban Pillemer family. Her inlaws are Maurice and Bess Pillemer who met at Habonim. Their children, the Pillemer boys Robbie, Steven, Jonx and Ilan Pillemer were the vanguard of Habonim Durban for many years. Terri is married to Robbie Pillemer. They met at Habonim Machaneh when Robbie came back for a stint in the tuckshop. She was a channicha in Sayarim and Shomrin, and was a two time madricha.

California/Vancouver (PDT) – 10:00 AM

Toronto/NY (EDT) –1 pm

London (GMT) – 6:00 PM

South Africa – 7:00 PM

Israel – 8:00 PM

Sydney/Melbourne (AEDT) Monday 2:00 AM


Rafael Friedman
Khaya Sithole
Johnny Copelyn
Ittamar Avin
Karen Milner

 If you have an idea for a HED presentation please contact the HED Committee:

Stephen Pincus at spincus@goodmans.ca

Dave Bloom at davebloom@outlook.com

Felicity Swerdlow at felicityswerdlow@gmail.com

Mark Kedem at mark.kedem@gmail.com

Adam Blumenthal at adamblumenthal98@gmail.com

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