Montefiore launches new community biography series

November 4, 2017 by Danielle Oppermann
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Family and friends of Mervyn Basserabie, the Sydney property developer and communal philanthropist, gathered at Montefiore Randwick for the presentation of his life story, Thinking Outside the Square.

Mervyn and Lorraine Basserabie and family

Basserabie’s wife Lorraine, daughter Donna, son Gavin and grandson Alex spoke about the man of the hour, as did friends Robert Magid, Allen Linz, and Central Synagogue’s Rabbi Levi Wolff.

Each painted a picture of a true mensch who radiates positivity and is always ready to give time and energy to his family, many friends and business contacts. Local Jewish and Israeli causes are close to his heart, Montefiore among them, and giving to the community seems an intrinsic part of his makeup. As Mervyn says in the book: “Each charity is like a family, and to be a member of a family is an honour and a privilege.”

The book is the first commissioned as part of a new initiative inspired by the unique Life Story program offered to Montefiore residents, which has been running for more than a decade. Montefiore is now extending the program to the wider Sydney Jewish Community, to record and celebrate the lives of people who’ve made an outstanding contribution.

Bob Magid, Allen Linz, Mervyn Basserabie and Rabbi Levi Wolff

“We’re honoured to present Mervyn with this Community Life Story,” said Montefiore Life Story Coordinator Rene Ichilcik. “We trust it will be treasured and enjoyed by family, friends and community members for many years to come.”

Basserabie engaged in the project with the author, Ilona Lee, who volunteered many hours interviewing Mervyn and Lorraine and writing his story. In Thinking Outside the Square, she captures memories of Mervyn’s early life in Johannesburg, and the family’s move to Sydney in the 1990s that has seen them achieve success in business and become pillars of the community. “Nobody is more generous,” says Magid of his longtime friend, who is an ardent supporter of Jewish causes at home and in Israel.

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