I admit: I was so wrong and had completely missed the point

Denise Meyerson collage

Huge thanks to Denise Meyerson, who has generously given of her time and more to take a very special (top secret) role at each of our campaign dinners and events.

You might recall a year ago I somewhat controversially confessed to not having attended a JCA event for nearly 20 years. This is what I wrote then:

It’s not that I had anything against the events per se, but there always seemed to be a reason not to go. I didn’t like the speaker. None of my friends were going. My wife thought perhaps the 10 year old was not yet ready to babysit his siblings. There was paint drying somewhere that needed watching.

My general attitude was “please, just tell me where to send cheque”. (right now, our younger readers are asking, “what’s a cheque?”).

But I was so, so, so wrong and had completely missed the point.

And now as CEO, with JCA’s 2015 campaign in full swing after a successful start last week, it is one of my happiest duties to attend every single event we host. And every single one has been energising and interesting. A huge thanks this week to our fantastic fundraising team of Lydia Vesely, Lara Levin, Di Odze, Terry Katz, Ashleigh Levett, Rose Temple, and Kylie French, led by the indefatigable Sharon Philippsohn, all of whom have put in incredible hours to make sure everything runs just right. Enormous thanks also to our volunteer leaders, especially president Stephen Chipkin and vice president Michael Graf, who have spoken with such clarity and candour about the challenges and opportunities we face together.

But wait, there’s more. Huge thanks to Dr Denise Meyerson, whose role in these dinners and events is TOP SECRET and if you’ve already attended one, you’re sworn to secrecy.

Back to me missing the point about our dinners and events a few years back… There was one this week that really made me think about everything that makes this community great. Here’s what happened:

We had two dinners planned for one night so we decided to combine them. Some of our guests had recently moved to Australia with school-aged kids – recent enough to remember the food on the Qantas flight over from Jo’burg. So naturally, we mixed them with a group of grandparents, most of whom had arrived in Australia as young children, or been born here to refugees, and survivors of the Shoah.

Regardless of how they came to be in the room together, everyone had two great things in common: Dover Heights (in its humble, and high class incarnations), and a love of our local Jewish community. And that’s all everyone needed to connect over the dinner table. If you had been observing the table, you would’ve thought they had known each other forever. At one point, the gracious hosts looked at me nervously, wondering if the new found friends might settle in to see the sunrise.

And last night, one of our hosts told her own story about being embraced by this community of ours, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It made me think of all the events I had been invited to – for 20 years – and had declined, and really, I had no idea what I was missing.

And before you know it, this campaign will come to a close. I really don’t know how politicians do it – their campaigns last for months and months (some say years). But one of the joys of the communal calendar is we only have a few weeks to wine and dine (OK, not so much wine, but plenty of dine), and raise the $13,653,245 we need to keep this community running. And then, thanks to our ‘spiritual calendar’, the only thing that could possibly trump the communal calendar, we get Shabbat off – so we can reset and recharge for another week of essential JCA fundraising and engagement.

And this Shabbat we will be thinking and taking stock of the first few days of our 2015 campaign. We have had such a wonderful series of dinners. With many more to come and larger events, and smaller ones. And younger ones. And older ones. And some for women and some gamblers. And every single one of them for people who care about our community, and want to come together to share their dreams, and fears, and hopes, and priorities.

If you haven’t found a seat at one of these events, please contact one of our fabulously friendly staff on 9360 2344 and they will find you a place so that you can enjoy our big Jewish family.

It is customary for a charity CEO to write to you at this time of year, and say “We Need Your Support”. But that really doesn’t apply at JCA. We are a unique charity, in that we are all contributors and we are all recipients. And if you are reading this email, you don’t even need me to tell you that. The fact is “We Need Our Support”, and without wanting to get too cute, “We Support Our Need”.

It’s pretty simple really. Even the 12 year old (who has started babysitting, thank God) gets that.

Shabbat Shalom, and thanks to all of US for OUR support.


P.S. You will have seen signs popping up all over Sydney with a cute kid imploring you to “Donate Now!”. There was an audible groan in the office when I suggested a Thermo-clock for the person who emails through the most photos of themselves in front of different signs (hint, there are 19 for you to collect), so sadly, there will be no Thermo-clock for the winner. Unless you really want one…

P.P.S. What are you doing on Tuesday, June 16th? See your invitation below to join us for a very inspiring speaker.

Gerardo Porteny Backal event invitation

Three Weddings and a Birth!

you cant danceWho doesn’t love dancing at a Jewish wedding? But whenever I’m under that swirling chair (hoping that whatever we do, we don’t drop the bride), I think of my grandmother’s sage advice that you can’t dance at two weddings with one behind. It sounded much better in Yiddish: Mit eyn tokhes ken men nit tantsn af tsvey khasenes. So what hope did my tokhes have on Wednesday night needing to be at three places at once?

To start with, we were privileged to host ‘From Telegrams to Twitter’, a sold out Sydney Writer’s Festival satellite event at our Sydney Jewish Museum, where I moderated a wonderful panel of four women writers in their 20s, 40s, 60s and 80s. If you missed it, you can follow the first three on Twitter: Phoebe Roth (@phoebe_roth), Kerri Sackville (@kerrisackville), and Adele Horin (@adelehorin). Or, you can just follow the magnificent Olga Horak OAM in person, as she guides hundreds of visitors each week through our gem of a museum.

On the same evening, at JewishCare, nearly 50 of our most engaged young (and young at heart) communal leaders, board members, staff and volunteers were inspired by Seth Cohen who came to Sydney thanks to our partnership with Melbourne-based Australian Jewish Funders (AJF). A big thank you to Tracie Olcha from AJF, who is devoted to building vibrant Jewish communities, as is Dr Hilton Immerman OAM and the Shalom Institute, who me must thank for graciously hosting this event and taking the pressure off JCA as our 2015 appeal campaign moves into full swing.

The LaunchPad 2015 cohort. Mazal tov on a fantastic program.

The LaunchPad 2015 cohort. Mazal tov on a fantastic program.

Seth is the Director of Network Initiatives at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation in Atlanta – our partners with AJF – in what has proven to be another hugely successful LaunchPad program, which wrapped up in Melbourne earlier this week.

Seth spoke at length about the power of networks in the Jewish world, and their capacity for us to transform our communities to be sustainable, vibrant and secure in the 21st century. (OK so he didn’t actually deliver the JCA’s mission statement, but I’m pretty sure he believes in it).

At exactly the same time on Wednesday night, our Wolper Jewish Hospital hosted a Q&A panel discussion on suicide and depression. Talking about these topics within our community is essential so if you missed the Wolper Q&A, like I did, you might be interested in JewishCare’s intervention workshop on 2 June: ‘Staying Connected When Emotions Run High’. JewishCare’s Mental Health and Well-Being team is the most well-resourced in our community, and it is vitally important that we are all aware of what this team does so we know who to contact when issues relating to mental health arise.

Oh, and all the way back to Monday night at the Annual Maccabi NSW Awards, a swag of sporting awards were given out, including our top sportswoman (Jessica Fox) and sportsman of the year (Steven Solomon), Team of the Year (Under 11s Cricket Team), the Maccabi Youth Leadership Award (Shayna Levitt and Yoni Hochbergeven), and even Administrator of the Year, which went to  Joel Weiner for bringing back all of our teenagers from Melbourne Carnival (how he found them in the foam party I will never know), and many others.

Zac Midalia, Daniel Grynberg, Lance Kalish and Daniel Cohen

Zac Midalia, Dan Grynberg, Lance Kalish and Daniel Cohen.

And then just last night, JCA hosted some of our best and brightest young entrepreneurs at Boston Consulting Group, where Zac Midalia interviewed Lance Kalish and Daniel Cohen. Thank you to Allocations Committee member Anna Green for organising this.

It has truly been one jam-packed week, and I haven’t yet mentioned the birth: the start of JCA’s 2015 communal appeal with a major donor dinner on Tuesday night during which we heard, via video, from overseas philanthropists and their innovative, ‘game changing’ ideas for their communities in Boston, London and Montreal.

And all of these amazing events provided for our community by the staff and volunteers of our JCA member organisations and JCA team. No wonder we need a communal calendar! You could easily write a book: My Year as Jew in Sydney and Canberra. The diversity, quality, intelligence, and heart of programs and events put on day in and day out by organisations across our community never cease to amaze me. And there are still a few more tickets left for My Mother and Other Catastrophes, “a choreographed reading with dance and film projection of a new Australian black comedy about four generations of formidable Jewish women. It will have you simultaneously laughing and crying and gasping in admiration.” Thank you Florette Cohen and team as all profits will go to JCA’s 2015 appeal campaign. Break a leg, as they say in the biz.

As full as this week was, over the next few weeks nearly two dozen JCA donor dinners and other events kick off as part of our 2015 JCA appeal campaign. If you are one of our hosts, we cannot thank you enough for being willing to invite your friends and family, and in some cases even open up your homes, as part of the JCA appeal. It is truly the pointy end of the year for us and the bulk of $13 million+ must be raised for the benefit of our community during this time.

JCA sign at Masada

Our new signs are popping up at our JCA member organisations. Do you know where this one is?

And to help get the word out that it’s time for all of us to give, and give generously, you might have seen some signs popping up at our various JCA member organisations across Sydney yesterday. The rest will go up on Tuesday. Thank you to all our constituents for helping to promote the 2015 appeal campaign, and to Elliott Placks and his team at Ray White Double Bay for helping out with the signs (especially marketing manager Danielle Banton). Elliott’s terrific team will also be helping during our upcoming telephone campaign. Real estate agents using their considerable powers of persuasion for the benefit of our community – how good is that!

It is, after all, Shavuot and a time for the collection of first fruits. A time to celebrate. A time to give as we would want to receive.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach. Enjoy your cheesecake.

Daniel Grynberg

P.S. No matter whether you live across the street, or have to cross the bridge, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, June 14th at our awards night. Our guest speaker Markus Zusak, bestselling author of The Book Thief, will share his own inspiring story. Please book asap by following this link or calling the JCA office on 9360 2344.

Markus Zusak JCA event

We hired someone new and now I’m locked in my office

Dan at his desk

Shackled to my desk and no hope of escape until this week’s message is done…

I don’t know how you go, but it’s really hard learning to work with new people. For the last year or so that I’ve been writing this newsletter, I had been working with the great and patient Lauren Finn. Blonde (sort of) and definitely a dog person, Lauren was content to let me scribble things down at the last minute (well not content, but forgiving nonetheless). And now we’ve gone and hired a new head of marketing and communications, Alicia Mayer Beverley, who’s a dark haired ailurophile and suddenly, everything is different.

To start with, I’m currently locked in my office and not allowed out until I’ve finished writing this piece. Help! HELP!!! (In the JCA Office, like in space, nobody can hear you scream).

So here goes: We used a ten-dollar word in that last paragraph, and for those who haven’t already scrambled for their dictionaries (like anyone has one of them anymore), an ailurophile is a cat lover. And cats have been on my brain this week. We are getting ready for this year’s campaign, and we have – controversially – two themes: tackling anti-Semitism and investing in innovation and creativity.

On one hand we need to be protective and secure, which means being a bit closed to the world. And on the other, we need to be as open and welcoming as possible. Can you be both at the same time? The cat I’m thinking of is Schrödinger’s, impossibly dead and alive at once (he certainly was no ailurophile). Now I really feel like Schrödinger’s cat locked as I am in this room. HELP!

The sad fact is our community faces an increasingly hostile security and political environment. We need to focus on security, which sometimes means being protected from the world. I am reminded of that every time I have to go through the double air-lock, which is now at the entrance to this building.

But the reality is that a campaign (and for that matter a community) based on fear alone will not engage our young people (or many of our older people either), so to continue to grow and nurture our community, we need to invest in innovation and creativity.

On that note, I should introduce you to a young father I met this week. Ben is 34 and has recently arrived in Sydney from Paris with his wife and two young daughters. He is fourth generation Ashkenazi-French on one side (his great-grandfather fought with the French at Gallipoli) and Moroccan-Sephardi French on the other. He tells me the gefilte fish tagine was something to behold. And yet here he is in Sydney, starting a new life. Why?

Ben told me that after the recent Paris terrorist attacks, he and his wife had come to the sad conclusion that there simply was no future for their children as Jews in France. Within a very short time, he and his little family have moved to Sydney and been welcomed with open arms. They’ve joined a synagogue. His daughter has started in one of our pre-schools. And now Ben volunteers for our CSG. And the entire family has a sense of future.

This story should resonate with the many in our community who have migrated here for a better life for their children. In fact, Ben’s family could be the ‘poster boy’ (poster family?) for our campaign.

So sometimes it takes an outsider to make things clear (actually, it always does). And what I learned from Ben is that we are right to fear anti-Semitism, because it is rising, and we are not immune from the great tectonic shifts of global trends. But at the same time what we have here is so remarkable, and precious and attractive. We must continue to invest in our own capacity to be creative and innovative so that our community will continue to be a wonderful and sustaining place for us. And a very hospitable and welcoming place for Jews across the world who will come to join us.

And talking about vibrant cultures, tonight I will be going with my family and some of our Indian friends to a joint Jewish-Indian Shabbat celebration at the Great Synagogue. I’m expecting an exciting melding of two great cultures, and if it wasn’t at shul, we could probably have seen a pretty interesting Bollywood horah.

Now that the Great Synagogue has its own Twitter account (not bad for a congregation that harks back to 1831) they can help me plug a Sydney Writer’s Festival event next Wednesday night at our Sydney Jewish Museum, entitled “Telegrams to Twitter”. I hope you can join an insufferable host and an esteemed panel – Olga Horak, Adele Horin, Kerri Sackville and Phoebe Roth – as we consider how dramatically communication has changed these days.

At the very same time as this event (see flyer below), Wolper Jewish Hospital and Jewish House are holding a free Q&A session, “Suicide and Depression” with another esteemed panel and will be moderated by journalist Julie McCrossin.

The fact that both events are held on the same night, and both so important to our wellbeing, is testament to this vibrant community of ours. And to close, let’s come full circle.

Last weekend, we celebrated Mother’s Day and now we’re happy to invite you to the final showing of My Mother and Other Catastrophes (it’s ok to laugh, and cry).This play has been repeatedly sold out and the produce Florette Cohen and her cast are putting on a special performance and all profits will go to this year’s JCA campaign. Click here to book, and take your mum!

So Shabbat Shalom and Namaste and will somebody please let me out of my office! I’m done.

Daniel Grynberg

CEO Wolper Hospital and Jewish House wellbeing program

You might be shocked, but here’s a little secret…

Jeremy Balkin and Harold Milner this week.

The “Anti-Wolf of Wall Street” Jeremy Balkin and Harold Milner of Shaw Stockbroking this week.

Every week we measure how many of you open this email, and how many of you click on the link below (hard to believe, I know, but not everybody does). And prior to last week, we were a bit worried about you.

Ok, so that’s the secret out of the way.

But the fact was that the emails that got the most eyeballs were the sad, the mad and the bad. The bus attack last year. An ugly scene at Sydney University. Pain in Israel. As they say in the tabloid news biz, “if it bleeds, it leads”.

But we were wrong! And we are so very sorry. It turns out we have the most positive and inspired and inspiring community we could dream of. Last week’s feature on Mervyn Basserabie’s incredibly humble and generous gift was opened by more people than any other email we have ever sent. And so far, over 730 people have watched his powerful speech at our campaign launch. If you haven’t done so, you really should.

Mervyn told us that he’s been deluged with calls ever since, and has been swamped with good wishes from “big shots” to “average Joes”. Allen Linz rang him to say that he’d been fielding calls for days asking for Mervyn’s email address. Mervyn asked, “any girls?”, to which the sad answer was: “No girls… they’re not interested… you’ve given away all your money!”

So we are still on a bit of a high from Mervyn’s Magic Moment. How do you come down from that? Well, the wonderful thing at JCA and in our community is that you don’t have to. It has been a week full of communal moments, any one of which could fill an entire email.

On Sunday, I was privileged to be at the Centenary of Anzac Ceremony along with over 1,000 people from our, and the broader, community at the Great Synagogue. From where I sat, Prime Minister Tony Abbott looked very comfortable wearing a skullcap, but then abbots often do. Once again, kol ha’kavod to Garry Browne AM and his organising committee, and to Garry’s dad Wesley Browne OAM and Patron of the Anzac Jewish Program for his NAJEX Centenary of Anzac Award. A special mention must go to FLTLT Daniel Mendoza-Jones, who kept the ceremony on track with military precision and a Jewish heart.

On Tuesday, JCA hosted a lunchtime gig at Shaw Stockbroking (thank you Harold Milner!) with former chair of our Young Major Donors, Jeremy Balkin, talking about his new book Investing with Impact: Why Finance is a Force for Good. There was much food for thought from the “Anti-Wolf of Wall Street”, but thankfully there was also much food for eating (thank you Katzy’s). If you missed this event, we have another one you’re going to love – our Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Event with Zac Midalia, who will interview seasoned entrepreneurs Lance Kalish and Daniel Cohen on 21 May. There are still a few tickets left, but not many, so click here to book today.

By the way, Lance, who has also been co-chair of JCA’s Gen-gage working group, is one of the impresarios behind the sell-out shows at the Sydney Opera House of Israeli mentalist Lior Suchard. I had the great pleasure of going on Tuesday night, and it turns out Lior did know I was going to be there (as I had guessed). I’m not sure if that was an incredible display of mentalism, or just Lance telling him, but it was a pretty impressive show none-the-less.

And then last night we all came together as a community to celebrate Israel’s 67th birthday at the annual Yom Ha’atzmaut ceremony. As I looked around the room, I saw so many faces of people who have been involved in communal leadership for so many years. I was thinking about that because I was asked by Sam Lipski to mention the launch on Sunday of his book Let My People Go (co-authored with Suzanne Rutland) documenting the unique role played by Australian Jews in the struggle to free our brothers and sisters trapped behind the Iron Curtain.

As a kid, I remember the first political protests I ever attended were outside the Soviet consulate in Woollahra, and I remember how impossible change seemed in that era of Brezhnev and belligerence. The story of how the Jewish world united behind the cause of the Refuseniks, and the role played by this Jewish community in particular, is one we can be enormously proud of. It also points to what we can achieve when we are united and engaged. I hope to see as many of you as possible at the launch this Sunday afternoon at the Sydney Jewish Museum.

Talking about being a kid, Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers and mothers-to-be in our community – especially to my mum! We hope you have a fantastic day and make it through your burnt toast!

Shabbat Shalom,


Our Campaign Launch and Guess Who Stole the Show…

Mervyn Basserabi speaking at our campaign launch on Monday, April 24.

Mervyn Basserabie speaking at our campaign launch on Monday, April 24.

Well, two fairly momentous things happened on Monday evening. First, JCA’s Board of Governors approved the new trust deed. OK so it might not be a big deal for you but trust me spontaneous applause broke out across what is usually quite a sedate room. I half expected to see the Trustee Governors start a spontaneous Hora. The painful and painstaking negotiations ridiculously outlasted two presidents and one CEO. A huge vote of thanks (and relief) goes to trustee governors David Selig (Board of Jewish Education), David Freeman AM (Montefiore) and Peter Wertheim AM (Fund for Jewish Higher Education), who, as the drafting committee, managed to finally wrestle this document into shape – and just in time for the 30 June deadline. Phew!

So you can imagine it was with a sense of achievement and satisfaction that the trustee governors managed to find their way through the labyrinth that is Moriah College, après le deluge, to the drama theatre, for the 2015 JCA campaign launch.

The main themes of this year’s campaign will centre around the resurgence of anti-Semitism across the globe, including some very worrying trends closer to home. Lest anyone accuse us of ‘fear-mongering’, the campaign will feature positive stories of the incredible work being done to counter these trends, undertaken day in and day out by the staff and volunteers of organisations, such as the Board of Deputies, CSG, Sydney Jewish Museum and AUJS (thanks to the support you provide through JCA). We also will be talking about (and at some of the smaller functions) demonstrating some of the innovation and creativity we have been unlocking through our strategic working groups.

But guess Who Stole the Show last Monday Night…
Well, so far so good. Pretty much JCA as you’d expect. Good governance – tick. Professional fundraising – tick. And that was going to be pretty much it, but then one man stole the show…

You may already have read in JWire about the phenomenal start to this year’s campaign, kicked off by Mervyn Basserabie’s $1m gift to our community. But there was a twist! We were all amazed at Mervyn’s most remarkable gesture of donating a scholarship in honour of Frank Lowy AC, saying:

“Everyone always goes to him for everything… Frank’s contribution to the Australian and Israeli communities, Australian business and sport is immeasurable … And it is for this reason that I have decided to give a Moriah school bursary in his honour .”

Thankfully, someone recorded Mervyn’s speech, and it was sublime. I really, really think you should watch it. It is not every day that you hear someone in our community expressing, with great humility and authenticity, what it feels like to change people’s lives. If Mervyn is available, we might have to ask him to deliver the pitch at every JCA event of the campaign. I happen to know he has one or two more creative ideas up his sleeve.

So on behalf of us all, thank you Mervyn for your magnificent gift. But, moreover, for completely inspiring every single person at the JCA Campaign Launch to redouble their efforts to ensure our community is sustainable, vibrant and secure.

Before you rush off with your umbrella, there are several upcoming events. Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, will speak at our Communal East event and awards night on 14 June. And Gerado Porteny Backal, an utterly inspiring young Jewish philanthropist from Mexico, will join us on the 16th, just two days later. Click here to watch Gerardo’s inspiring TED talk on philanthropy and social innovation. Also, coming up at the Sydney Jewish Museum on Sunday 10 May at 2:30pm is the book launch for Let My People Go, by Sam Lipski and Suzanne Rutland. This book covers the previously untold story of Australia and the Soviet Jews and will be launched by Robert Goot AM SC and chaired by Professor Konrad Kwiet.

Shabbat Shalom and we look forward to seeing you at one of our events,

Daniel Grynberg

PS. The campaign launch was the 8th, and last, put together by JCA’s super professional and creative head of marketing and communications, Lauren Finn. We all owe a huge debt to the great work Lauren has done over the past eight years in promoting JCA and our community, and keeping every single ball in the air, without appearing stressed in the slightest. In particular, I want to thank her for her great assistance in editing these weekly newsletters. I am a bit at a loss to imagine how they will appear without her. On behalf of the entire JCA Family, thank you Lauren. We also would like to welcome to the JCA office someone who is very well-known to the JCA Family. Former Maccabi NSW President, Ruth Nissim, has joined JCA in a full-time role as community relations co-ordinator. So if you have any thoughts about how JCA can be more engaged and involved at a grass-roots level in the community, and through constituents, get in touch with ruth@jca.org.au.

invitation LMPG e

‘Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life

We missed a couple of Billionaires this week: We probably weren’t the only Jewish charity in town that got all excited for about 30 minutes yesterday – when the headlines read that James Packer had taken up Israeli citizenship (and had converted?), but alas his office denied it before we could send out an invitation to our Major Donor dinner (damned Communal Calendar!).

James Packer - almost.......

James Packer – almost…….

And the night before we were privileged to be at the Observership Program’s training event held at the every so funky Facebook offices (when will the JCA office get a shuffleboard I wondered?).

And as wonderful and inspiring as Brian Schwartz AM was (thank you Brian), Mark Zuckerberg – like Elvis – had left the building, as was nowhere to be seen. So it turns out we had to look a little closer to home for some philanthropic inspiration this week.

Brian Schwartz AM

Brian Schwartz AM

I really need to write a letter to the Chevra. One of the bittersweet duties of being the JCA CEO is to go from time to time to the funerals of people who have been stalwart supporters of this community for longer than I’ve been alive. And as I sit there on the sparse wooden pews, listening to eulogies of one remarkable life after another, I think to myself, we are missing an incredible opportunity here. These should be recorded. Actually I think they should be live-streamed and podcast, because every life story I’ve heard over the past year, has been “extra-ordinary”.  As they must be, because as we know, the tragic fact is there is nobody to tell the “ordinary” stories of European Jewry in the 1940s, ending as they do in oblivion.

The story this week was that of Victor Newman, who was born in Split (today in Croatia) 95 years ago, and died peacefully in his home in Sydney last week – on Yom Hashoah, the day to commemorate the cataclysm which consumed almost his entire world. Because of the tempest that struck Sydney in the early part of the week, Victor’s funeral was delayed to Thursday, which as Rabbi Kamins pointed out was Yom Ha’atzmaut. The journey from Yom Hashoah to Yom Ha’atzmaut, and the palpable sense of rising from the ashes and rebuilding strong and independent lives is told week in and week out in that little brick building on Oxford Street, and we need to capture those stories while we still can.

I cannot do justice to Victor’s incredible life in this short column, (maybe we can get permission to reprint it), but there was one thing which Rabbi Kamins neglected to mention in his eulogy: That Victor’s (and his late wife Irene’s) great communal generosity and philanthropic leadership will live on, in perpetuity, because in 2007 they established a JCA Endowment Fund. Every year the fund provides two scholarships to university students studying medicine: one for an indigenous student at UNSW (through the Shalom Gamarada program) and another for a Jewish student in need.

And I know that the Newmans’ philanthropy was not limited to our local community, because sitting beside me at the Chevra were our friends from the JNF. People in our community who give to one worthy cause, tend to support many, and not just Jewish ones of course.

So like Victor, we are all on a journey this week from Yom Hashoah to Yom Ha’atzmaut, and we hope to see you and your family at the communal celebrations at Moriah College this Sunday afternoon. Who knows, we might even get James Packer to pop bye to celebrate Israel’s independence with us. If you know him, and he’s in town, let him know he’d never be more welcome at a party, I’m sure the CSG boys won’t give him too hard a time, and the felafel’s on us.

100 years of anzac resized

It would be remiss of me not to mention ANZAC Day tomorrow.  Chair of JCA’s Marketing Committee, Garry Browne AM has been instrumental in organising this year’s Anzac Centenary Commemorative Service of the NSW Jewish Community at The Great Synagogue.


His father Wesley is an honoured returned Jewish serviceman, and a longstanding leader of NAJEX. We published his story a year ago but it’s so relevant with it being the 100 year anniversary and the Browne family’s involvement that we’re re-publishing in honour of Anzac Day tomorrow.  Click here to read Wesley’s story.

Shabbat Shalom,

Daniel Grynberg




Eva, Ibi & Flore mark 70 years since liberation

It is hard to believe it has been a whole year since I wrote you about going to our annual communal Shoah memorial ceremony:

“So, on Monday Wednesday night I went to Moriah Angel Place to attend one of the communal Yom Hashoah commemorations. I never used to go to these events but since my grandmother died a few years back, I’ve sort of figured that if I don’t go, who will (which is kind of symbolic of a whole range of generational changes that will need to take place in our community). I started to go before taking on this gig, but now I have to go, so I took my mum wife (talk about a hot date). The event was really well done. Kol Ha’Kavod to Yair Miller Jeremy Spinak, Vic Alhadeff and the team at the Board of Deputies, in particular Shoah Remembrance Committee Chair, Michael Jaku.”

I don’t want you to think I’m being lazy merely recycling last year’s material. The fact is that this year’s 70th anniversary commemoration of liberation and the end of the war event was a powerful and moving evening. Angel Place Recital Hall was literally packed to the rafters with not one of the 1,238 seats spare. Josh Frydenberg spoke entirely by heart and from his heart, about visiting Auschwitz for the first time as a representative of the Australian government and Australia. The presentation of survivor and rescuer testimonies was devastating and dignified. Including  this wonderful video of Michael Jaku’s mum, Flore.

So the reason for repeating last year’s bit, is for you to notice that the people who give of themselves to our community, do so year-in and year-out. Having our office next to the Board, and sharing a non-descript boardroom, we see the countless hours put in by volunteers for all manner of inspiring communal projects. And it always seems to be the same people. A big Kol Ha’Kavod and heartfelt thanks (again) from our community to Michael Jaku, and his Shoah Remembrance Committee of George & Margaret Foster, Sandra Rothman, Dane Stern, Vivien Gorney, Eli Hochberg and Danny Hochberg (who clearly doesn’t have enough on his plate as President of Maccabi NSW, and a JCA Trustee Governor) as well as Jenna Bloom and Iliya Borecki who worked with the Board’s Sarita Gold to coordinate all aspects of this incredible tribute event.

shoah 2015

I actually didn’t want to write much else this week, because we have these wonderful videos (this one’s of Eva and Ibi) which were screened at the Yom Hashoah ceremony, and if you weren’t there really stop reading anything I write and just click on the videos. Even if you were there, you probably want to watch them again.

The thing is, as we squeezed through the crowd to leave I passed by Eva Grinston and Ibi Wertheim who featured in a previous JCA newsletter. And both of them came up to me with knowing smiles. It turns out that Eva’s late-husband Michael, was a Sugihara survivor friend of my grandparents, and arrived in Sydney on the same boat. And Ibi is a close friend of my other grandmother, who told me she very much enjoyed my barmitzvah, which is nice to know 32 years later.

Seriously, stop reading this and watch the video! But, the one thing you will not feel is the warmth of their hands when you shake them. And the sparkle in their eyes, when they smile at you, and more particularly their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Wishing you all, especially Eva and Ibi and Flore and their families Shabbat Shalom,

Daniel Grynberg

Marika Weinberger

Marika Weinberger

In this week’s community in action story we document another part of the event above, Their Names Survive – Marika Weinberger.