2001• Community Service Award

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Thea Abramson, the recipient of this year’s Community Service Award, has always striven, in her music and in her community work, “to be the best I can be, at everything I do.”

This attitude was evidenced even as a child: Thea began her music career very early and gained repute as both a concert pianist with the South African Symphony Orchestra and then as a musical collaborator with many theatrical directors. Thea worked with Bertha Egnos, Taubie Kushlik and Faith De Villiers on many of their musical productions and gained experience in theatrical presentations.

Her musical arrangements gained her recognition and critical acclaim within the Spanish dance, ballet and musical mileau. Thea Abramson was personal accompanist to dancing personalities such as Phyllis Spira, Toby Fine, Enrique Segovia and Chiquita Albeniz. When Mercedes Molina founded her Spanish Dance Theatre, Thea took on the roles of accompanist and musical director and performed with the company as they toured South Africa, Zimbabwe and Lourenco Marques (Maputo).

Thea Abramson’s activities extended far beyond the worlds of music and dance. As an activist for human rights she became active in the TEACH program.

This program was established to build schools in the townships of South Africa and the government of the day matched rand for rand monies raised by the private sector. Thea was instrumental in organizing, producing and participating in numerous benefit concerts, raising thousands of rands for this program.

Her persuasive powers and engaging personality ensured the participation on a volunteer basis of many of South Africa’s leading performers.

In 1981, Thea and her husband Abe (well known in pharmaceutical circles in South Africa) joined their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren in Canada. Thea soon became active in the South African Jewish Association of Canada (SAJAC) Seniors organization.

At the beginning of 1999 Thea was elected chairperson of the association and under her leadership, it has flourished and grown to approximately 400 members. SAJAC Seniors is a social club that holds monthly functions with guest speakers, entertainment and refreshments. During the summer, Thea arranges outings and trips to various locations for the members. All new immigrants are welcomed into SAJAC and assisted wherever possible.

Thea Abramson was honoured by the Chabad Lubavitch of Markham as one of the “women Who Make a Difference” in November 2000. She was recognized for her courage, her tenacity and her strength. “One of the most capable women I know” said one admirer.

South African Women for Women is proud to recognize Thea Abramson for the encouragement, motivation and respect she has given the seniors community and for the positive outlook she brings to everything she has done, both in Canada and in South Africa, always striving “to be the best I can be, at everything I do.”