From Generation to Generation

Sunday, December 14, 2014 1:47 PM

JNF South Africa honors brothers Bertie and Ronnie Lubner for their philanthropic activities at a festive dinner in Johannesburg.

At the invitation of JNF South Africa, family members and close friends gathered last night at the beautiful Munroe Hotel to pay tribute to brothers Bertie and Ronnie Lubner, in acknowledgment and recognition of these outstanding businessmen and philanthropists, and the incredible legacy they have given to South Africa in both these areas of influence.

Photo: Courtesy of JNF South Africa

As director and chairman respectively of Plate Glass Holdings (Pty) Ltd, they built the PG Group into one of South Africa’s most successful companies. Although Bertie has retired, he, together with Ronnie, current chairman and CEO, remain very active in its management.

In 1994, together with the late Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris, Bertie was the driving force behind the establishment of Afrika Tikkun, South Africa’s premier Jewish NGO which helps developing communities in South Africa.  In 1997 the brothers founded the Field Band Foundation, which has given unlimited opportunities to some 5,000 young musicians from underprivileged backgrounds, who are now members of more than 30 music bands around the country. Guests arriving at last night’s affair were welcomed by one of these delightful and very talented bands.

Bertie and Ronnie Lubner share a L'Chaim.
Photo: Courtesy of JNF South Africa

This was truly a gala night.  Rabbis, communal leaders, long-standing friends, close business associates and cherished family members mingled together, enjoying delicious food and drinks as they watched yet another glorious African sunset.  Marvelous entertainment was provided by Master of Ceremonies Ian von Memerty, singer and pianist extraordinaire, and Cyril Green, hilarious comedian whose personal brand of humor never fails to delight his audiences. 

Greg Kinross, chairman of JNF-SA, described the enormous respect people had for the Lubner family in celebrating their humanity and generosity.  He spoke of their parents Morrie and Bella, great supporters of the JNF, part of the generation which had purchased land in mandate Palestine, and whose dream of a Jewish state had become today’s miracle.  The achievements of the JNF today, he said, were in large measure due to people like the Lubners who had contributed so generously over the years.

Photo: Courtesy of JNF South Africa

Delivering his superb tribute to Bertie and Ronnie, SA Zionist Federation chairman Avrom Krengel recalled some of their past family history;  noted the significant roles both men had played in the establishment of the new South Africa; mentioned the many awards and honors bestowed upon Bertie over the years and how valuable his mentoring of and guidance to younger leaders has been for the benefit of the community; and emphasized how the brothers had transferred these values to their children, all of whom are today involved in helping to make the world a better place. He thanked them for the eight decades of complete service they had given to South African and world Jewry and to Israel, describing them as icons of philanthropy and legends of the Jewish community.

In appreciation of everyone who had played so significant a part in their lives, Bertie said that it was the JNF that should be honored for all it had done both in Israel and here in South Africa.  He paid tribute to the heads of the numerous organizations with which he and Ronnie have been involved over the years, each of which has contributed to making the world a better place, and each of whose leaders had given not only money but time, passion and commitment to making a difference to those in need.  No-one, he said, could attain success without the love and loyalty of one’s family.  Both brothers were fortunate enough to have this in abundance, and they took great pride in seeing the next generation encapsulating their values and growing them to new and greater heights. 

The honored couples – Bertie and his wife Hilary, and Ronnie and his wife Rhona, each received a KKL-JNF Golden Book Certificate in appreciation of their work in changing the world. Hilary and Rhona were each presented with a limited edition Tiffany KKL-JNF Blue Box. This was a night to remember indeed; a night of celebration, shared joy and much happiness.