President of the World Conference on Religions for Peace (WCRP), South Africa, and Honorary Life Vice-President of Temple David Durban, Paddy Meskin was born in England and moved to KwaZulu-Natal in 1948. By the age of 18, she was already active in her temple doing voluntary community work. She has been an active and creative member of the Bet David Congregation in Durban for many years.
Assisted by members of the Jewish community in Durban, mostly youth, as well as a range of charitable trusts and organisations; Paddy has initiated the teaching of more than 4500 black matric pupils from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. She has also been involved in developing human rights programmes about the Holocaust, Israel and related issues which were run at the Jewish Club for nearly 25 years which attracted more than 20,000 students, and exhibitions and educational programmes following these themes have been taken to schools throughout KwaZulu-Natal.
Paddy is also a board member at the International Centre of Non-violence in Durban and an activist for religious reconciliation and heads the KwaZulu Natal Inter-Religious Council’s Secretariat. The Council works with the KZN Premier in redressing social ills such as poverty, unemployment, the spread of HIV/AIDS, homelessness, poor education and access to clean water, as well as the high levels of crime and violence. She has so far played a key role in setting up eight task forces which will do the actual work of the council.
She received a Mahatma Gandhi Satyagraha Award in 2011 for her ‘role in the community in furthering the cause of religious harmony and peace’. This award celebrated the values that guide Paddy in her service to the cause of the poor and the deprived. Paddy received the award alongside the Dalai Lama, the international winner of the Mahatma Gandhi Award.