Double time on nothing is still nothing, am I right?

In this issue:

Well, that’s another Yom Kippur under the belt (why does Yom Kippur make us think about our belt?). And I don’t know about you but the fast seems to get easier every year, but the coffeeless headache so much harder. My wife helpfully suggested that next year I try to “wean” myself off coffee in between Rosh Hashana and YK, which is kind of like suggesting a junkie “wean” themselves off heroin. I told her them’s the aseret yamei teshuva, NOT the aseret yamei meshugah.

keep calm and drink coffeeBut even through the coffeeless fug, it was lovely to spend 25 hours in community and contemplation, and to meet so many wonderful supporters of JCA who give of themselves for our community. And then break the fast with friends and family.

We hope that your fast went well, and that we all will be sealed in the book of life and health and prosperity. But before we look forward, let’s look back for a moment. Last week I wrote:

It is a difficult thing being the one who has to work on a holiday – public or religious – when everyone else around you is doing something else … Now I’m not looking to trigger a debate on penalty rates (the new prime minister has enough on his plate) [we failed there, sorry PM] but there is a reason that a civilised society like Australia has developed a system of additional compensation for those who are required to work, and forced to forgo time with their families and friends on a holiday.

So these high holidays, spare a thought for those in our community who continue to work, professionally and voluntarily, to make sure all the machinery continues to run, and we remain vibrant and secure. Particularly those inside and outside of our synagogues.

Of course, those “outside of our synagogues” was an oblique reference to our remarkably dedicated and committed Community Security Group (CSG to the rest of us) and particularly their volunteers, because even if penalty rates applied, double time on nothing is still nothing.

20150917-securityIn looking to bring you stories of people in our community (as you’ve requested), there will always be one group that we will never be able to do justice to in this newsletter, and that is the volunteers, young and old, of our CSG (or, for that matter, the supremely dedicated professional staff that leads and supports them).

Those of you who have donated to JCA this year will have received an email between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur thanking you and the volunteers of the CSG, for what we have done – together – to ensure our community is secure over this past year, and particularly over our High Holidays.

And it bears repeating here simply because this newsletter goes to a much wider group of people in our community – including everyone who benefits from the work of the CSG, lest we take for granted one of the most important elements of our community.

So here’s what you may have missed:

We all know that no one gives up hundreds of hours of their time each year for a few words of thanks, but it does make a difference to know that your time and effort is appreciated. And we most definitely do appreciate everything that CSG does to keep our community secure. Dedicated volunteers and talented staff, on their own are not enough for CSG to protect us.

Without your support through JCA, CSG would not have the funds it needs to operate in the way that it does, understand the risks, and work with authorities to safeguard our community.

So today, on behalf of our whole community, I would like to thank you for all you do to ensure that we are as sustainable, vibrant and secure as possible. Like our CSG volunteers who donate their precious time and talent, you have made the choice to donate your hard earned money to JCA’s 2015 campaign to help your family and our communal family, and we thank you.

If you haven’t made a contribution to JCA’s 2015 campaign and can help out, you know what to do. Next Rosh Hashana, we’d love to be able to thank you too.

Once again we wish everyone Gmar Chatimah Tova, and that we may all be sealed for a sweet and happy new year. And by the way, if you know someone who would like to start 5776 in a new job, check out the job ad for a hugely important community role at the bottom of the newsletter. Jewish Uncle Sam says, “Oy, do we need you!”

Shabbat Shalom,

Daniel Grynberg


P.S. For those of you looking to commence construction of your sukkah, you will be pleased to know that JCA’s Building & Capital Committee has determined that sukkahs – being necessarily temporary structures – are a form of Exempt and Complying Development, and as such no DA is necessary.

P.P.S. Have you been following The Shabbat Project 2015? Here’s what you need to know (and when reading the important info below imagine that film trailer voice over guy):

In 2014, 15,000 Sydneysiders came together to celebrate one Shabbat across the Jewish world.

This year, it’s happening again. And, it’s better than ever.

In 2015 it is about going back to our grassroots and empowering communal organisations, shules and members of the community to take on The Shabbat Project. This way, more people can be reached and it will ensure that everyone can participate in a meaningful way. Be it be a local Challah Bake, Havdallah Concert, lunch at the synagogue  or an activity for the children, it is up to us, the Sydney community, to create the spirit and meaning of Shabbat in a way that has never been done before.

It is about being One People. One Heart. One Shabbat.

To stay in touch:

Instagram @shabbatprojectsydney #sydneytogetheragain#keepingittogether

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The Perkal Brothers and Kerry Packer, and the Lodge and JCA

It must be a strange thing being a pulpit rabbi. Every shabbat, when the rest of us are thinking “rest, rest, rest”, that’s the day of the week they work the hardest. And then, over these ten “Days of Awe”, when our Jewish souls are saying, “reflect, relax, reconsider and repent”, our community’s rabbis are worrying about sermons, and call-ups, and koveds, and having to belt out a Tekiah Gedolah, all without having had a sip of water for 25 hours.

It is a difficult thing being the one who has to work on a holiday – public or religious – when everyone else around you is doing something else (eating in a restaurant, going to the beach, or the football, or even praying in a synagogue). Now I’m not looking to trigger a debate on penalty rates (the new prime minister has enough on his plate) but there is a reason that a civilised society like Australia has developed a system of additional compensation for those who are required to work, and forced to forgo time with their families and friends on a holiday.

IMG_4275So these high holidays, spare a thought for those in our community who continue to work, professionally and voluntarily, to make sure all the machinery continues to run, and we remain vibrant and secure. Particularly those inside and outside of our synagogues.

And while you are reflecting on that, we are also reflecting on your survey responses (‘tis the season for reflection). If you ever want to understand the truth of the saying “you can’t please everyone”, send a survey to 12,500 Jews. But the two things that you said you wanted more of were “stories about individuals in our community” and “facts and figures about our community”, so here goes:

Adam and Morris Perkal.

Adam and Morris Perkal.

For many years I sat in shul next to the famous Perkal brothers – Adam and Morris – which was kind of ironic because as we sat in our non-leather shoes, these boot-makers from the old country, would regale me and my cousin with their tales of being flown by helicopter up to Scone to handstitch the finest leather boots for Kerry Packer’s polo chums.

There are more wonderful photos of Adam and Morris Perkal here. And this was one of the best Two of Us columns ever run in the Good Weekend.

For some reason the mental image of these two Holocaust-survivor-Yiddish-speaking-cobblers lifting off in the Packer helicopter has always helped me get through the fast. Sitting next to the Perkal brothers reminded me each year of the terribly unpredictable nature of our fate, and how having strong values and family relationships can make life’s journey so much more secure. I will be thinking of them again this year. May their memories be a blessing.

And in terms of facts and figures, there is only one I want to share with you this week, and that is speaking of the new prime minister, regardless of how you vote, this is the first time in Australian history that the Lodge will be occupied by a regular JCA donor (once they finish the renovations). And according to the AJN, potentially a Jewish PM – so on behalf of us all, Mazal Tov, Malcolm!

We wish everyone well over the fast, a Gmar Chatimah Tova, and that we may all be sealed for a sweet and happy new year.

Shana Tova,

Daniel Grynberg


P.S. See below for our quick yontif round up of some of our JCA communal events throughout the year gone by, which you may have spotted in the current Jewish News. Thank you for taking part and helping to keep our community sustainable, vibrant and secure.

And thank you to the hardworking design team at Print35 – Rene and Tracy – for your wonderful (and FAST) design work. Print35 is a division of JewishCare, another JCA member organisation. Click here to learn more about their design and print work, gift shop, and packaging. Your support of this unique design studio also provides meaningful work for their disabled staff.JCA_AJN_HalfPg_RH_Social_outlined

Mail merge fiascos, e-cards, our survey and Shana Tova!

AJN full page Rosh Hashanah adLast year at this time, my mother received a Rosh Hashanah e-card from a local business addressed to her as “Dear Jew”. As the daughter of survivors you can imagine this salutation (and I use the term loosely) stopped her in her tracks, as it would have done to all of us.

Now before I troop next door to the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and complain to Vic Alhadeff about an incident of anti-Semitism, the reality is the email was well intended. Being able to identify Jewish clients meant the Jewish business person could connect – ironically – in a culturally appropriate way. But thanks to a nightmarish CRM database glitch, the mail merge was configured to pick from the wrong column in some database, and next thing you know “Dear Jew” goes out to every Jewish client. Of course, when my mother rang to let the business owner know about the email, he was understandably mortified. Chances are the column was removed so that ominous mistake could never be made again…

I was thinking about that this week as the welter of Rosh Hashanah e-cards poured into my inbox from every Jewish organisation in town; from law firms and accounting shops, and even a dentist; as well as from international Jewish websites I’d signed up to years ago and can never seem to unsubscribe. No doubt you’ve also received a deluge of e-cards.

On one hand it is a good thing – just think of the amount of money our community would be wasting on postage (no wonder Australia Post is going mechuleh). On the other hand, I’m not sure any of these e-cards are actually doing anything to stimulate real engagement.

Since the start of this year we have begun each JCA Executive Committee and Board of Governors meeting with “something Jewish”. I think of it as our very own “welcome to culture”. This week our chair of Building and Capital, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, reflected on the controversy aroused by the decision to install misting showers at Auschwitz to cool visitors in the heat of summer. Kelly’s take away was that in everything one does, particularly in leading an organisation, one should consider three critical questions:

  1. Am I doing the right thing?
  2. Am I doing it for the right reasons?
  3. Am doing it the right way?

In the case of the decision to install the showers, it was certainly the right thing (to want to cool down visitors), and for the right reason (to make them comfortable), but it was clearly not the right way to go about it.

Making sure we do the right things, for the right reasons, in the right way, is really at the core of JCA. It can be frustrating when you just want to get on with it, but it is the reason we are still here after nearly 50 years.

The businessman who sent my mum a “Dear Jew” email also did the right thing (know thy customer), for the right reason (to grow his business) but clearly in a very wrong way.

Regarding our survey last week, thank you to everyone who took the time to offer your thoughts and feedback. This is a great time to take stock and reflect, so your replies (which we are still digesting) will help us make sure we continue to do our best at doing the right thing, for the right reason, in the right way.

On behalf of our President, Stephen Chipkin, our Executive Committee and every other JCA committee and all our staff and volunteers, and all of the organisations and people we serve and who are supported by you, we wish you a happy and joyous Shana Tova, and share the blessings and wishes you have received in all those other e-cards, 100-fold.

Shabbat Shalom and l’Shana Tova,

Daniel Grynberg


P.S. Remember the Jewish Rock Star Rick Recht, who featured at our recent Kids Music Festival? Here’s a wrap up video of that great event with a message from Rick to all of our young families, who we know are so busy, so this video is just 3 minutes long:

While Bigots Rant, There’s Always Babs

Barbra-Streisand-2So every week I reflect on the JCA mission and how we are tracking, not just on the fundraising (we’re tracking well, but still have a way to go), but on the big mission – ensuring our community is sustainable, vibrant and secure. And this week I can report to you, on each of those goals. And also get a Barbara Streisand plug in. Read on.

On sustainability, the Allocations Committee, comprising Louise Thurgood Phillips, Howard Ware, Phillip Wolanski AM and Anna Green (ably supported by JCA’s head of strategic planning Alain Hasson and co-ordinator George Davey) have been diligently and respectfully meeting with each JCA member organisations asking all manner of probing questions on your behalf. Rest assured, the team also congratulates our constituents on their successes, focuses on future successes, and seeks opportunities to assist with particular projects. They look at where JCA can better facilitate cooperation between constituents and across sectors. They talk honestly about long term challenges for some, and succession planning for others.

It is very interesting to watch this process, which, by the way, has been developed over the past 50 years by so many smart and communally committed people. And in so many ways, in every meeting, I hear someone from the Allocations Committee say, in effect: “we are the representatives of the donors”. And yes, the process is rigorous to ensure your generous donations to our community – via JCA – are in safe, thoughtful, and strong hands.

family day picmonkey collage1On vibrancy, you need look no further than the photos on our Facebook page from last Sunday’s JCA Kids Music Festival. Over 1,300 people aged between 9 days and 90 years (with a fairly heavy skew to the bottom end of that scale), literally “rocked up” to Randwick Racecourse to revel with Rick Recht. (There’s a tongue twister for you).

This is the fourth year we have run this family event and it gets bigger and better each year. A huge thanks go to Elyse Chiert and Rachel Swartz for the thought and creativity and love they put into this wonderful celebration. Thank you to their Family Day committee – Tal Allen, Justine Saidman, Tiffany Marcovitch, Candice Mervis, Emily Fisher, Lauren Placks, Naomi Rothman, Lee Adler, Sharon Adler – shown here in the bright t-shirts we could’ve sold hand over fist on the day, they were that popular. Thanks also to the many young volunteers, who enthusiastically helped wherever they could. And, of course, to the JCA team for all of their hard work behind the scenes and on the day.

family day picmonkey collage2By the way, I was back at Randwick Racecourse on Wednesday – with about 800 of you – at WIZO’s Major Function for the year and sat next to Rachel Swartz, whose mum, Gloria Newhouse co-chairs WIZO. All I could think was how, other than Rachel and I, there were probably only a dozen people in the hall who had been at both racecourse events. And what a picture of vibrancy that WIZO/JCA Randwick venn diagram was. Mazal Tov to Anat Vidor, and the WIZO team, for a great event and for their communal leadership.

And speaking of women in leadership, this week also saw the first JCA Jewish Women in Leadership breakfast, hosted by Kelly Bayer Rosmarin at CBA. Around 50 leading women in our community, including the CEOs of JCA member organisations, were inspired hearing from Dr Kerry Schott AO, who was thoughtfully and generously questioned by the AFR’s Jemima Whyte on all manner of topics relating to leadership. But really for me (being only one of three men in the room), the highlight was hearing Louise Thurgood Phillips’ ‘story’ and why community is so very important for her, and why JCA in particular. There was a wonderful feeling of strength and support in the room and very promising survey results from our guests.

Jewish Women in Leadership picmonkey collage1On security, it’s been a bit of a mixed week. Certainly, all these events went off without a hitch. And our huge thanks to the volunteers of the CSG who make sure we are safe while we are inside rocking with our kids and WIZO-ing.

But one matter of real concern was yesterday’s DPP and NSW Police decision not to proceed with charges against Ismail al-WahWah, the local head of Hizb ut-Tahrir for the anti-Semitic rant wherein he was filmed calling for violence against Jews. Us.

Now I’m pretty much a free speech guy. And I often am on the other side of the debate on things like 18C, but it’s pretty clear that in order to have a functioning tolerant multicultural democracy, one needs to have pretty clear rules about incitement to violence. Certainly, that’s what my grandmother, who grew up in Germany in the 1920s and 30s tells me, and she speaks with the clarity and authority of a survivor. She told me what happened last time somebody stood on street corners and called on people to “rid” the world of the Jewish “hidden evil”, and I am disinclined to ignore her, and her experience.

Apparently, the “the NSW Police Force has investigated the complaint thoroughly and found that, at this time, it is not possible to identify who uploaded the footage in question or charge him or her for uploading the offensive material.”

Anyone else agree this is quite literally a cop out of epic proportions?

So perhaps you might like to write to your local member of parliament (who for many of you, also happens to be the attorney general) and suggest that, notwithstanding the fact that we don’t know who the cameraman was, the Logie for Racist Rant of the year should go to Ismail al-WahWah, and perhaps the NSW Government could do something to ensure our community – and every other Australian – is not subjected to such incitement to violence.

If you want to experience a bit of what free speech and civilised debate looks like, there are still spaces available for sessions at this weekend’s excellent Sydney Jewish Writers Festival, brought to you by the Shalom Institute (a JCA member organisation).

So there you go, bigots ranting, JCA, PJ Library & Shalom Baby Kids Music Festival, JCA’s Jewish Women in Leadership, WIZO’s event, the writers fest – and JCA continues the work of ensuring a sustainable, vibrant and secure community.

But still no Babs. So what gives?

Well, if you can get down to Woollahra Oval #2 tomorrow at 1pm (walk there OK, it will do you good, and be in keeping with Shabbat) the annual Barbra Streisand Cup will be contested between Maccabi and The Convicts (an all gay team). Good luck lads! Have fun. If you’re closer to UNSW, then you can catch our own George Davey, captain of the 3rd Grade Mosman Whales in their semi-finals.

GO, Whales. GO, Maccabi! GO, Us!

Shabbat Shalom,

Dan, CEO

P.S. If you are looking for even more vibrancy, check out our newest event: a cooking class – “Quick, Delicious and Healthy” – which will result in a vegetarian meal and dessert! Of course, however good the recipes on the night, remember you don’t make friends with salad.

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JCA’s Two Step Guide to Releasing Your Inner Jewish Rock Star

seuss-021209Regular readers might recall this time last year when we published a list of Yingloshen or “English words that could, might, maybe become Yiddish” (think, “far-fetched”, “far-flung” or “bedraggled”). We even held a Thermo-Clock competition, which was won by Gerry Myerson for his creative efforts with “Spatula” as you’ll see below:

English: A small implement with a broad, flat, flexible blade used to mix, spread and lift materials including foods, drugs, plaster and paints.

Yiddish: (Spatchele) a diminutive along the lines of “Moyshele”, and simply used as a term of endearment.

Usage: “To think, my little spatchele is become a doctor!”

Last Sunday a gaggle of spatcheles (Gerry help me, what is the collective noun for a group of spatcheles?) got together at Shalom College to rehearse for their starring roles as back-up singers to visiting Jewish Kids rock legend, Rick Recht. Think our very own School of (Jewish) Rock.

By the way, is anyone out there related to Jack Black? It would be so great to get him out here for next year’s festival – make sure to check out the Heavy Metal take on Chad Gadya he pulled out to get his kids into Hebrew School.

Anyway, when I heard from Shalom Baby director, Elyse Chiert, after rehearsals she was psyched:

“The rehearsals were AMAZING. The show is going to be AMAZING. Everyone is PUMPED!! See you Sunday!”

One of these Jewish rock stars will be at the JCA/Shalom Baby/PJ Library Kids Music Festival this Sunday.

One of these Jewish rock stars will be at the JCA/Shalom Baby/PJ Library Kids Music Festival this Sunday.

So, like I said about Family Fun Day last year, if you are a spatchele aged between zip and 10, or a parent or loving uncle or aunt, or grandparent of such, then STEP 1 to releasing your inner JEWISH ROCK STAR is to get your tuchis to the JCA, Shalom Baby, PJ Library Kids Music Festival!

There simply is no better place to be this Sunday morning. If you haven’t pre-booked, no problem, dude – tickets ($40 per family) will be available at the venue, the Oaks marquee at Randwick Racecourse. The fun starts at 10am rain or shine.

STEP 2 is to cut the rug and enjoy – show our kleyne kinder what ‘real’ dancing is. Alternatively, I’ll see you at the silent disco if your inner Jewish rock star needs some peace and quiet from the tiny groupies.

And if our Kids Music Festival isn’t your scene, luckily for you B’nai B’rith (also a JCA member organisation) is also putting on an entire day of ‘Jewish Culture and Heritage’ (all event flyers are below). You’d have to work very hard to be bored on Sunday – something no Jewish grandmother could ever condone, so don’t.

By the way, we should have another competition for words that don’t exist in English, but also happen to sound Yiddish (it is a very specific target market this one). So to kick things off I offer: “Beviggled: The state of being awestruck or transfixed by something truly horrific, like a car crash or train wreck”. I think the first person in history to be beviggled was Lot’s wife, and that didn’t turn out so good. So if you have any spatcheles nearby, get them to avert their eyes – and ears –  and be beviggled by the single most disturbing thing you will see this week. Let’s just say, there’s not a shred of authentic Jewish-ness (or dignity) to be found in this Wiggles attempt at Shalom Aleichem. Oy, is the word…

Thankfully, wherever you find yourself this weekend, there is no excuse not to dip into to a bit of genuine Jewish music, culture and heritage.

Shabbat Shalom,

Dan, CEO

P.S. Next week, the perfect place to recover from the Kids Music Festival will be the Sydney Jewish Writers Festival (brought to you by the Shalom Institute, a JCA member organisation and hosted by Waverley Library). Each year the festival manages to attract a fascinating, top shelf line up of Australian and overseas Jewish authors. Kol Hakavod to festival director Michael Misrachi and his team, which includes an army of dedicated volunteers. See you at Waverley Library next!

P.P.S. And as if we weren’t already spoiled for choice, the Israeli Film Festival is also on. Don’t miss it.

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And the Irish Jews too…

So a few weeks ago I was invited by Rabbi Danny Yaffe to a gathering at the Great Synagogue described as “Young Jewish Adults Meet & Greet with the Leaders of the Jewish Community”. I felt quite flattered, until I realised I was part of the second group mentioned.

Be that as it may, I rocked up and I must say it was great to meet and greet a whole bunch of 20-somethings who were genuinely interested in our community, and working out ways in which they can fit in, take part, help out, and generally find their place – and hopefully become a leader of the Jewish community themselves.

But truth be told, I don’t think I met a single person who had any real sense of what JCA is or does. Or how remarkable and special it is. And how important it is, especially for the institutions they hold dear (there were a fair few folk involved with AUJS in attendance, which receives a pretty significant amount of support through JCA and the Shalom Institute each year).

I was very patient, but it is hard when you meet and greet a young Jewish adult and you say,  “I’m CEO of JCA” and they look at you blankly.

Liam O'Callaghan manning the phones during JCA's recent phone campaign.

Liam O’Callaghan manning the phones during JCA’s recent phone campaign.

That’s exactly what happened when I met Liam, who seemed nice enough but genuinely had never heard of JCA. Now, Liam didn’t have a South African accent so I figured he’d grown up locally (or at least had not gone to Masada or Moriah), which made it even more depressing that he hadn’t heard of JCA.

So I asked him, did you grow up here? How can you have not heard of JCA? To which Liam replied that he was from Gosford. Now I know we do have a small but strong Central Coast community, so I dropped a few names (you get to play a fair bit of ‘Jewish Geography’ in this gig), and again, Liam looked blank.

Then he explained that his name is Liam O’Callaghan, and he grew up in a Catholic family in Gosford, which is lovely, of course, but somewhat confusing as he was at an event for “Jewish Young Adults to Meet & Greet” people like me.

At that point, Liam put me out of my misery and told me his story. Which in a nutshell is this: Liam had never met a Jew until he arrived at Sydney University and made some Jewish friends. He shared with them an interest in politics, current affairs, and what he now knows is something called tikkun olam.

As Liam became closer to his newfound Jewish friends and AUJS, he started to explore his own roots, and lo and behold, discovered that his great-grandmother was Jewish. Whereupon his new Jewish friends said, “so you know that makes you Jewish, right?” To which Liam’s first reaction was: “Get outta here”. But it was his second reaction which counts, and that was to sign up for AUJS.

Liam is now the treasurer of Sydney Uni AUJS and sits on the USYD Student Representative Council where he is at the frontline of combatting anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and a flow of invidious BDS activity. I found this online article which features his work on campus:

Liam O’Callaghan, Treasurer of Sydney University AUJS, believes that the endemic of ‘new anti-Semitism’ is bred from ignorance. Having only discovered his Jewish roots last year when digging through old family records at his Nan’s house, O’Callaghan wasn’t aware of the struggles that Jewish people face until he became immersed in the religion himself. “Jewish students feel victimised, they feel that their voices aren’t heard, that don’t have the opportunity to speak their minds and to rationalise what is really a very grey issue,” he said.

Since becoming involved in AUJS and advocating for Israel on campus, O’Callaghan has already been subject to anti-Semitic slurs. When telling people of his newfound Jewish faith, he was met with varied responses.

Perhaps most memorable was that of his friend, the head of the Autonomous Collective Against Racism: “oh, now I like you less.”

Lost for words, O’Callaghan stared at him blankly in confusion. “I didn’t know going in… people will insult me, call me genocidal, call me all these different things and then just claim that they’re not anti-Semitic?” he said.

Liam now attends shul at the Great Synagogue, and after we spoke, he took the next step in his Jewish communal life and made a small contribution then and there to JCA. Liam may be may be a very popular name amongst Irish, but it has become quite popular in Israel too because in Hebrew Li-Am (ליעם) means “I have a People.” And too right in this case.

Sam Zweig.

Sam Weiss.

So it was really special on Tuesday night to welcome Liam to JCA’s offices to help out with our telephone campaign. He joined several others from AUJS, including Sam Weiss, who featured in our 2015 campaign video this year (and is in our blog banner above), and whose mellifluous voice proved irresistible to almost every single donor he called – watch out Richard Mercer, there may well be a new Love God in town.

Also from AUJS was Iris Vayzer, who graduated from Masada College in 2013 and is now doing a law and communications degree at UTS. Being community-minded, she joined AUJS and is their events coordinator for the UTS chapter. Iris also takes part in JewishCare’s Big Brother Big Sister program. Basically, if there’s a way she can help, she’s ready to join in and give back.

Iris Vayzer.

Iris Vayzer.

So when the call came from Elenore Levi (AUJS national vice-chairperson) to help with phone campaign, Iris put her hand up. She wasn’t entirely sure for who, or what, but after hearing about JCA and our work as the fundraising body for 22 other Jewish organisations, she actually donated herself on the night. Now that’s community minded.

And sitting side by side with Liam and Sam and Iris were stalwarts like Pat EvansLew Levi, Graham de Vahl Davis, John Temple, Michael Segerman, and Sam Zweig, all of whom may very well have clocked up over 100,000 phone calls between them in their careers as JCA volunteer callers.

august phone campaign picmonkey collageSo Liam, welcome to the Hotel California:

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave… it to others to ensure our community is sustainable, vibrant and secure.

OK, so maybe the Eagles didn’t sing the last bit of that lyric, but they should have.

By the way, the phone campaign was very successful with many thousands pledged by generous members of our community.

So this week we give a special thanks to every single person – young and old – who came out to call and help raise funds for our community this year. And in particular, Gosford’s own Liam O’Callaghan, who made the move to Wagga by the Sea, and we are so very glad to have him.

Shabbat Shalom,

Dan, CEO

Professor Irad Malkin from Tel Aviv University.

Professor Irad Malkin from Tel Aviv University.

P.S. In stark contrast to the difficult situation faced by members of our community at Sydney University, very positive news this week from Macquarie University, where Professor S Bruce Dowton has awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Visiting Fellowship 2015 to Professor Irad Malkin, Chair of Mediterranean History and Culture at Tel Aviv University.

The Fellowship is reserved for only the most eminent, globally celebrated scholars. Last year Professor Malkin also won the Israel Prize for history, which is commonly known as Israel’s Nobel Prize. The community is invited to attend his public lecture, ‘Societies in Transition: Ancient and Modern Perspectives’, on 2 September at the university. Kol Ha’Kavod and Mazel Tov to Dr Gil Davis who is the director of the Program for Ancient Mediterranean Studies at Macquarie University, and a longtime JCA supporter and partner.

P.P.S. And for the very, very young in our community, have you booked your under 10 child or grandchild for our Kids Music Festival at Randwick Racecourse, Sunday, August 23rd? It will be a terrific day out and even if it pelts down with rain as it’s all under cover. Click here to book and see the flyer below. Pre-booking, which comes with a free lunch box for your child, closes soon.

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And by the way, there is A LOT happening for our community that Sunday from sunrise to sunset, thanks to the B’nai B’rith Day of Jewish Culture and Heritage. Click on the ad below to see more detail and get ready to clear your schedule. We’ll make sure to send the flyer to Liam, so he can find out more about this wonderful world he’s cast his lot with.


A community funeral today, SBS on Tuesday, and a Japanese diplomat who disobeyed official orders 70 years ago…

Holocaust survivor Leon Slucki, who passed away this week,was saved by the Japanese consulate Sugihara Chiune, who issued transit visas against orders from Japan.

Holocaust survivor Leon Slucki, who passed away this week,was saved by the Japanese consulate Sugihara Chiune, who issued transit visas against orders from Japan.

Long-time readers will recall last year’s Kosher Kobe Kiddush and the Sydney visit of Keisuke Sugihara, great-grandson of the Japanese Consul and Righteous among the Nations, Chiune Sugihara.

Well, I was thinking about Keisuke on Tuesday night while watching a very moving episode of SBS’ excellent Insight program, which featured the descendants of a number of key people from WW2, including the great-grandson of Stalin, who appeared to have inherited the madman gene, and Niklas Frank, whose Nazi father Hans Frank, oversaw the murder of millions in Poland. How much better to descend from a hero than a villain, I thought.

George Grojnowski on SBS' Insight program.

George Grojnowski on Insight.(Photo SBS.)

Anyway, as bizarre and tortured as those guests were (respectively), I think everyone should watch the show over the weekend, if only to see some wonderful representatives of our community; in particular, the always composed and compassionate George Grojnowski and his magnificent wife, Ella. Both are tireless supporters and workers assisting JCA, the Sydney Jewish Museum, and our community. It’s no wonder we featured George in one of our earliest editions of the newsletter.

Insight TV program newsletter pic

Deborah Ziegler on SBS's Insight program.

Deborah Ziegler on Insight.(Photo SBS.)

Other communal faces that popped up on the screen included Deborah Ziegler, who guided Niklas Frank through our Museum, and talked about her grandfather, who escaped Treblinka where he had been sent to die, ultimately by Niklas’ father. And I saw Hakoah President George Farkas, whose father John was Raoul Wallenberg’s right hand man in Budapest.

Then the phone rang on Wednesday morning with Keisuke announcing that he is back in Sydney for a few weeks. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up…

And then on Thursday we posted on our Facebook page the following request from the AJN:

“DO A MITZVAH: A 95-year-old Holocaust survivor with no family has passed away and a minyan is required for his funeral at 12.30pm on Friday at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney. Carla is happy to help any Jewish men over the age of 13 who can attend but needs transport.”

Would you believe, the survivor in question, Leon Slucki, like my grandparents, was saved by Keisuke’s great-grandfather…

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”, and yet here we are 70 years later, with Debbie and Niklas, and Keisuke and Leon, with lives still linked.

As I write this, it is touching to know that at 12.30pm today, all indications are that there will be many from our community, including students from Masada and Moriah, who will attend funeral and say kaddish for the late Leon Slucki, who had no family…except for all of us.

Is there any other community in the world that does things like this?

The cycle of life is such that while we lay one member of our community to rest, we also shine the spotlight on the young – babies, children, young families. A pulsing, vibrant community is a microcosm of the cycle of life.

If you would like to feel part of our large, extended family, then make sure you come along to the Kids Music Festival, which is brought to you by JCA, Shalom Baby, and PJ Library. It’s a fantastic day out for families and the under 10 set. American Jewish musician Rick Recht, who travels the world, will feature, as will the Israeli percussionists the Junkyard Beats. Plus, there will be lots of other fun to be had, including ‘Einsteinz’ music sessions for the little ones, Clamber Club obstacle courses, climb on toys, baby play areas, the JCA Rock Star photo booth, story reading corner with PJ Library, school arts and craft tables, jumping castle, silent disco and our very own ‘Kidchella’ chill out tent.

You can pre-book your tickets now and ensure your child receives a lunch pack supplied by Amaze In Taste (because we can’t have the little ones going hungry). And if you want to have a chat about things communal or JCA, or our weekly newsletters, or anything else, I’ll be near the silent disco (gotta get one of them for home).

I look forward to seeing you there.

Shabbat Shalom,



P.S. As I sit watching the Australian cricketers collapse – again, Maccabi have sent through this wonderful photo (below) of the two teams that competed in the first interstate Jewish cricket competition, and I reckon anyone of them could have top scored at Trent Bridge last night.

1925-Maccabi_2015-04-23-0003There will no doubt be many more classic photos like this, and other fascinating tidbits of Australian Jewish sport, in Maccabi’s 90th Anniversary Pictorial Book which you can order online here.

Maccabi 90th Year Pictorial Book Order Form (optimised)_Page_1