Farewell to a grand dame

August 28, 2014 by Roz Tarszisz
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There was laughter and there were a few tears when the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies hosted a communal function at the Sydney Jewish Museum to honour and farewell Her Excellency Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir, AD, CVO, who will step down from her role as Governor of New South Wales on October 1st.

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NSWJBD President Jeremy Spinak enjoys a light hearted moment with Governor Marie Bashir   photo: Gisell Haber

 

Professor Gus Lehrer, SJM President, welcomed Her Excellency, Sir Nicholas Shehadie, communal leaders and guests who had gathered to thank Her Excellency for her friendship “and to convey our best wishes for the next phase of her brilliant career. “ He stated his concerns that we are living in troubled times in Australia and explained that a central theme which the Museum attempts to impart to the many groups of schoolchildren who visit annually was that of personal responsibility. He believes that Her Excellency is a “shining example” of this ethos.

A message was read from Marika Weinberger, one of the Museum’s founders and a plaque was presented to Her Excellency awarding her honorary Life Membership of the Museum in thanks for her loyalty and support to the Jewish community.

In introducing the guest of honour, Jeremy Spinak, new Board of Deputies President, observed that guests were present, not only as Jews, but as citizens of New South Wales to thank Her Excellency for her “tireless efforts to promote fairness, diversity and harmony in our state”. Mr Spinak mentioned some of her many varied interests and accolades, including that of a national living treasure.

In a personal address, Her Excellency told the audience how intimate friendships forged at high school with children of the Holocaust had enriched her life and from whom she learned of mans’ inhumanity to man.

Her Excellency spoke from the heart as she explained how she felt part of the Jewish community which had shaped her “so very long ago”.     On a recent visit to Auschwitz she was struck by photographs of children arriving “to be slaughtered” while in Israel she visited Yad Vashem and was profoundly moved by the memorial. During this trip she also toured Hadassah Hospital and met a young Arab child being treated with “state of the art machines” and in her “fractured Arabic” – learned from her grandmother – managed to converse with the child’s mother and grandmother.

Her Excellency spoke of the important contributions made by Jews to Australian life and thanked everyone for what the community had given to her.

Amanda Gordon on behalf of the community and Hadassah Australia, gave the vote of thanks.

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