Ray Ginsburg – Eulogy

December 23, 2011 by  
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Victoria Nadel, the President of  The National Council of Jewish Women of Australia NSW Division delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Ray Ginsburg who passed aaway this week at the age of 103.

Ray Ginsburg

To reach the age of 103 is an achievement in itself, perhaps the result of good living and genetics.  But, it is not how long we live but what we do with our lives that is important. Perhaps this was why Ray Ginsburg was blessed with longevity, because she had so much to do and achieve.
Ray was born in Auckland, New Zealand on August 1908. Her parents Joseph and Anne Whitefield relocated to Sydney when Ray was 10.
The family lived at Potts Point and were active in the Jewish community. Joseph Whitefield was one of the founders of the Chevra Kadisha in Sydney and Annie Whitefield a foundation member of the National Council of Jewish Women.  Their involvement in community service greatly influenced Ray’s adult life and activities.
In Judaism we are taught “To love our neighbours as ourselves” and when I look at Ray’s life I see it as a testimony to this commandment.
Ray was throughout her long life an advocate, a campaigner, a creative fundraiser and mentor to many. She was about love, not just for her family but also for her metaphorical neighbours be they women or children in need, Israel or those in the Jewish or wider Community. She spoke of herself as being rather unconventional and perhaps it was this aspect of her personality that allowed her to achieve so much and to think outside the square.
Ray held distinguished positions at Council as State President for 8 years (1964 1972) and later as National President for 6 years (1979-1985). Her years of volunteer work and service to the community were recognised by the award of Member of the Order of Australia in 1986, and by NCJWA’s appointment as Life Governor in 1991 and,  in 2008 the Jean Arnott Award from the National Council of Women .
On her 99th birthday Ray spoke about the two driving forces in her life—her family and NCJWA. She became involved in NCJWA as a young woman and her interest never flagged. Her work for NCJWA allowed her to contribute to both the Jewish and non-Jewish Community something that distinguished this organisation from its inception.  Ray lived her life with an awareness and understanding that there are those who may not enjoy the same advantages or who face challenges that we would not wish for ourselves and tried to remedy these.
Her communal  and volunteer work ranged wide, whether  helping staff the NCJW Kiosk for soldiers in Martin Place during WWII –  or  —   post war, driving the meals on wheels  van from Town Hall to Glebe, Kings Cross and across to Millers Point, ensuring  that lonely pensioners had at least one nourishing meal a day and contact with the outside world. Despite or inspite of her position and awards, Ray was a hands on volunteer.
Children’s causes were among those she loved best. Ray through National Council supported and helped establish the Aid Retarded Hostel in Redfern later to become the Autistic Children’s Society, the formation of the first Jewish Girl Guides in Australia and the Ilan Foundation for handicapped children in Tel Aviv.
Through the NCJW Hospital Visiting Committee she was instrumental in the establishment of the Wolper Jewish Hospital in Woollahra, a state of the art facility that has benefited the general community over many decades.
In 1970, together with the Rebbetzin Marion Apple of the Great Synagogue, Ray formed the NCJWA Status of Women in Judaism and Jewish Law Committee, and educated Australian lawyers on the need to push for a “get” (Jewish Divorce) along with a secular divorce.
As for Israel, Ray was a passionate fundraiser. She did not see Israel as a charity but a partner in whose progress and support we were all involved. In 1980 Ray and 3 other Council women successfully lobbied the then Minister for Foreign Affairs Andrew Peacock and Bob Ellicot, Minister for Home Affairs, to vote against any U.N. resolution equating Zionism with racism.
We are all so proud that NCJWA through the efforts of these women were active on this issue crucial to Israel long before the male dominated Jewish Organisations realised the need to act.
Also among her achievements was the establishment of the Doctor Fanny Reading Council House in Woollahra, National Council’s home.
Ray married Walter Ginsburg during WWII  just before he was shipped overseas. Theirs was a happy marriage and Ray received much support and encouragement from Walter who shared her interest in communal affairs. Walter was President of the Double Bay Lion’s Club, involved in the Jewish Ex-Serviceman’s Organisation, and devoted NCJWA helper and honorary member.  They adopted their much loved daughter Julie-Ann in 1950 and were blessed with 4 grandchildren David, Joseph Robert & Joy and many great grandchildren.
This was a great woman. She could be fun loving but was also wise and knew what was important in life, and that was the importance of relationships, whether they were with family, friends or colleagues.
She was indeed a remarkable and inspirational woman. As her grandson, David Kohari said  when speaking at her 100th Birthday she was “a ray of light that touched us all  and who generously and graciously gave to everyone”.

 

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