Indigenous oral history honoured by Jewish community

May 11, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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Everyone has a story. For the Jewish people, oral history has always been an important vehicle for the retelling of stories, allowing us to connect us with our past and helping us to find similarities in the narratives of others.

Next month, in celebration of National Reconciliation week, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies will honour the work of the Rona Tranby Trust in supporting the collection of oral history within Australia’s Indigenous community. The occasion will be the Board of Deputies plenum, which will be held in the Benefactors Hall, Darlinghurst, on Tuesday May 19 at 7.30pm.

Vic Alhadeff

Vic Alhadeff

The Rona Tranby Trust was established as a bequest in the will of Holocaust survivor Thomas Rona. He and his wife Eva were tragically killed in a car crash in 1987. Thomas and Eva had committed their lives to social justice. In honouring Thomas’ wishes to support the Indigenous community, and in discussions with Tranby College, the Trust was established to  give awards that fund projects that record and preserve Indigenous oral history. It was felt by the trustees that the expertise of the Jewish community in recording the oral history of the Holocaust could be harnessed to work with the Aboriginal community in recording the teachings of their elders.

Located in Glebe Sydney, Tranby College is Australia’s oldest independent provider of Indigenous education. Indigenous owned and run, it delivers accredited courses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students structured to optimise learning.

The Rona Tranby Trust, a partnership between the college and the Board of Deputies has to date provided 12 award grants to Indigenous applicants across Australia for projects that fulfill the requirements of the trust.

Tranby College CEO Belinda Russon will give a presentation about the Rona Tranby Trust, Tranby College and Indigenous/non-Indigenous reconciliation at the May plenum, and Jennifer Symonds, who represents the Board of Deputies on the Rona Tranby Trust, will explore the work of the trust in its efforts to support the recording of Indigenous oral histories and in building Indigenous-Jewish community relations.

“There is a strong affinity between the Indigenous and Jewish communities,” Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said. “It manifests in the connection to land, in the importance of family, in the experience of genocide. This plenum is a prime opportunity to engage with issues which are germane to the First Peoples of this country, and we encourage members of the community to be there.”

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