Call to minyan

August 6, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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Volunteers are being called for to attend the funeral of a lonely Holocaust survivor…who escaped Nazi Europe through the help of Japanese consul Chiune Sugihari.

Leon Slucki passed away at the age of 94 this week in Sydney and his long-time friend Carla Rosen sought advice from rabbis as to how to get a minyan together for his funeral in Sydney tomorrow.

She told J-Wire: “When I went for help I had only five men I could count on and I told the rabbis I was prepared to pay to get volunteers along.”

The plea for help hit social media and volunteers appeared from everywhere. Carla told J-Wire that both Moriah College and Masada College were sending volunteers and Moriah was sending 22 in a special bus. There has been a remarkable response from the community.”

Carla will tell this story about Leon Slucki at tomorrow’s funeral at Rookwood Cemetery.

Leon was born 10th September 1920 in a small town in Poland.  His mother, father and sister perished in the Holocaust.  Leon never fully recovered from losing his family and many times related the horrors from that time.

Leon and his three brothers managed to escape.  Firstly they were able to reach Japan then New Zealand and finally Leon and his brother Alfred  settled in Australia.

Leon owes his escape to Sugihara a young Japanese diplomat who was stationed in Kovno Lithuania Consulate.   Jewish refugees from Poland came to beg Sugihara for transit visas to escape Poland and travel across the Soviet Union to Japan.  Sugihara asked permission from Tokyo to issue the visas and was refused.  Nevertheless he decided to help the desperate Jews.  He said; “I may have to disobey my government, but if I don‘t, I will be disobeying G-d.”  Because of his bravery there are today more than 40 000 descendants of the refugees he saved – ONE OF THOSE SAVED WAS LEON SLUCKI.

When Leon and his brothers made it to Japan with very little money they were able to find the Jewish organisation who helped them to survive finding them accommodation and food.   From there they made it safely to New Zealand and enlisted in the NZ army.  Leon proudly made it to the rank of Corporal Slucki.

In the 1950’s Leon emigrated with his brother Alfred to Sydney Australia and married Eva in 1958 and later divorced.

Leon’s first business in Sydney was in furniture manufacturing. He told us that he hated this business as he found it unclean because he had to hold the nails in his mouth while with one hand he held a nail and with the other hand the hammer to drive in the nail.  He got out of that business as soon as he could and then went into men’s wear manufacturing till he retired.

Throughout his working life he managed to buy and sell properties and invest in shares – he was very proud of his achievements – saying “how did a little pip squeak like me make so much money?”  He regularly donated generously to Israel and had a great knowledge of Israel and Jewish history.

After Leon’s brother Alfred Slucki passed away Leon inherited his brother’s unit in Elizabeth Bay.   He moved in to his brother’s unit and sold his unit in Bondi.  He was always very proud of his unit and always talked about what he could see from his balcony – like the zoo on the other side of the harbour, no pollution as units no longer had incinerators and commented on how quiet it was when Garden Island closed down.

In 1998 when Leon was 78 he did not want technology to leave him behind.  He became interested in computers, bought his first computer and started to use the internet to read the daily news online.

Leon loved walking and walked regularly every day, often walking two laps of Centennial Park.  Leon looked after his health and had a healthy diet.  Every day he made fresh fruit and vegetable juices and when people visited him at his unit in Bondi– he would make juices for them.

Leon often visited the State Library and enjoyed reading up on topics that interested him, particularly health information as he loathed seeing doctors – rather doing his own research about any medical issues that he had.

Well into his late 80’s he rarely saw a doctor and took no medication what so ever except for a multivitamin tablet – just in case.           Early 2008 at the age of 88 Leon’s luck with health finally ran out as he was diagnosed with a cancerous melanoma on his forehead. Under great duress he finally consented for the first time in his life to allow a doctor to operate on him.  This life saving operation gave Leon another 7 years of life.

Leon was a solitary and very independent type of man.  Well into his 80’s he refused any help, did his own shopping, cooking, cleaning and even did his own tax return.

When Leon broke his leg October 2013 at age 93 he finally had to go into a Nursing Home.  He resided in Lulworth House in Elizabeth Bay with good company namely Neville Wran (former premier of NSW) and also Gough Whitlam (former Prime Minister of Australia).  Suffering some dementia he believed that when he went to dinner there he was eating at the Hakoah Club.  Leon lived there until he passed away in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday 5th August 2015.

Leon was the last living survivor of his family and was proud of the age he achieved.

Carla and her son Mark were friends with Leon Slucki for about 35 years. Mark fondly remembers how Leon taught him to drive and Carla remembers how Leon advised her many times on how to invest her money safely.

Leon will always be remembered by Carla and Mark as a kind and true friend.

The funeral will take place at Rookwood at 12:30 pm

Comments

One Response to “Call to minyan”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    You do have a lovely ceremony of the placing of a stone on the grave of those who have departed with no Minyan required there at least.
    I found it sad one had to offer money for volunteers for one who had survived the Holocaust.
    May He Rest In Peace and have a happy send off.

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