First burial in Jewish cemetery in 76 years!
Leah Abadee was buried in Maitland yesterday…the first burial in the NSW country town’s Jewish cemetery since 1934.
Born in Gundegai on June 9, 1910, Leah turned 100 last month and had been living in a Stockton nursing home near Redhead where her daughter live close to Newcastle .
Leah Abadee moved to Sydney after World War 1, and two years ago was a patient in the city’s St Vincent’s Hospital when she met Rabbi Mendel Kastel during one of his scheduled hospital visits.
Rabbi Kastel told J-Wire: “She told me that she had family named Lewis buried in Maitland and she expressed a firm desire to be buried alongside them in the country town. We approached the authorities and given the passage of time and frequent flooding in the area, the idea was not well received as they thought there was a strong possibility of subterranean movement over the years. But in the end, Leah got her wish. We found a workaround and the authorities sanctioned the burial.”
Leah Abadee told Rabbi Kastel shortly before she passed away that turning 100 was “like winning a bowls tournament – but bowls is harder. Turning 100 meant I h=just had to sit and wait.”
Leah Abadee skippedre the Australian Women’s Lawn Bowls team which competed in Israel during the 1985 Maccabiah.
Rabbi Kastel said: “She was a wonderful woman who loved horse-riding and cycling and was blessed with a great sense of humour.” Her husband Jack passed away in 1958.
Maitland’s Jewish cemetery was founded in 1846. It was reconsecrated in in 1979 by the Great Synagogue’s Rabbi Raymond Apple. Currently, Israeli Joe Eisenberg, who is the Cultural Director of Maitland Regional Council, keeps a watchful eye on the cemetery, one of three in regional New South Wales. Rabbi Kastel: “The sense of history is omnipresent. There are now 45 Jews buried there…and Leah is the newest…and having reached her centenary, the oldest.”