Frank Stein Remembered

July 5, 2011 Agencies
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The Zionist Federation of Australia has dedicated a Memorial Garden and Recreation area in memory of Frank Stein, the Jerusalem-based representative of the Australian organisation.  Stein died in 2009 at the age of 51 of kidney failure, after a brief and intense battle with cancer.

Supporters honour Frank Stein

Initiated by close friend and former ZFA President Dr Ron Weiser AM and seen through by current ZFA Israel Office Director Yigal Sela, the garden honours Stein on the Kyriat Moriah campus, the area used by the Machon (Institute) for Zionist Youth Movement Madrichim (leader), the place where Stein once served as the live-in on-site manager. As the youth in general were so close to Stein’s heart, it was a fitting way to remember him. “Literally thousands of Australians passed through his care on the annual AUJS and Youth Movement programmes and all who came in contact with him remember him and were touched by him” remarked Weiser. ZFA President Philip Chester committed the seed money for the project on behalf of the ZFA, and other contributions were raised in Australia and in Israel.

Originally from Brisbane, Stein became involved with the Zionist youth movement Beitar at a young age and later continued his community work for Hineni in Sydney. In 1985, he made aliya and settled in Jerusalem, where he worked for several organizations dealing with Diaspora youth and assisting English-speaking immigrants in Israel. He went on to become director of the Zionist Federation of Australia’s Israel office, a position he left in 2008 to serve as an Israeli emissary in South Africa. He spent three months there.

Frank Stein

Last week’s ceremony was a reunion of sorts, a gathering of the spectrum of individuals touched by Frank’s care, compassion and concern. Several close friends and colleague shared stirring words, remembering the impact Stein had on their and others’ lives:

  • • Yigal Sela gracefully and graciously emceed the ceremony.
  • • ZFA President Philip Chester opened the ceremony, paying tribute to Stein’s passion and dedication from his early days at Betar and throughout his time at the ZFA.
  • • Ron Weiser recalled Stein’s connection with the youth and devotion to their ongoing welfare, as well as describing his general role and nature: “Frank was much more than the Office of Australian Jewry in Israel. He was also our conscience and our guide”
  • • Simon Starr, former Netzer boger, provided stirring musical interludes.
  • • Dara Podjarski, former colleague at the ZFA, drew on the relevance of a garden being planted in Stein’s honour: “You planted so many seeds around the Jewish world, nurtured a multitude of relationships, and saw countless individuals grow and bloom – activists and leaders alike.”
  • • Rhoda Shochet, former colleague at the Jewish Agency for Israel, spoke emotionally about Stein’s impact: “Frank never asked, ‘How are you?’ without really wanting to hear the answer. I have lost a friend, but the world has lost a Tzaddik”
  • • Benny Stein, Frank’s brother living in Israel, shed tears when speaking about his brother.

A plaque was erected, inscribed with the names of individuals and organisations that donated the garden/recreation area as well as Frank’s life story in brief, remembering that “Frank was a person who carried the weight of all other people’s problems on his shoulders but did not want to trouble a single soul with his own day to day issues if and when they arose.”

 

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