Sad loss for the Melbourne community

January 28, 2013 by Henry Benjamin
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Melbourne community stalwart Les Erdi has passed away.

Leslie Erdi

Leslie Erdi

Les Erdi was a successful business man who had his start in the clothing industry and went on to found the Mercure Hotel Group….but he is better known for his philanthropy.

He was on first name terms with political leaders on both sides of the political spectrum in both State and Federal politics.

Federal Labor MP Michael Danby writes: “Les Erdi was one of those post-Shoah giants of the Melbourne Jewish community. He was. together with his beloved wife Eva, the life-force of many key philanthropies,a businessman of great acumen and a great Australian patriot committed to our pluralist way of life.

A Hungarian Jew who settled in Melbourne, Les is the only living public figure to have had a public building or Square  named for him while still alive.The Sandridge Railway Bridge which links downtown Melbourne to Southbank with its moving sculpture and displays of a national group making up the Melbourne community was endowed by Erdi.

Les Erdi was the philanthropist behind

-The Jewish Film Festival
-The expansion of the Emny Monash Home for the Aged especially the High care and Ageing in Place units
-Many major projects for the JNF
-Financing of the total refurbrishment of Elwood Talmud Torah- the shule of many of the survivors of the Shoah.

Erdi claims to have built 65 buildings since he came to Australia His restoration of classic buildings like the high Victorian Grand Hotel was agknowledged by the then Premier Jeff Kennet who officially opened it.

Les Erdi commissioned a book”Whatever it is,This it What it Is”  on his incredible life,telling how he and his wife Eva survived Hitler and Stalin.

He will be mourned by Eva, his family and friends of all generations including his loyal Praetorians CEO Phil Zajac, lawyer Jeff Pinch and PA Aqua Dibble.

One of the big oak trees has fallen in the forest.

Dr Danny Lamm, president of  The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, told J-Wire: “I visited him late last year following an accident he had. He told me about his plans to launch a world-wide business in converting CO2 into an energy source using a license he had bought from the Weizmann Institute in Israel which had developed the idea”

Lamm said that Led Erdi had been a huge supporter of Jewish charoties both in Israel and domestically and that he had also been a major philanthropist  supporting the broaden Australian community.

In 2010, Les Erdi was nominated for the Australian of the Year award. In 2001 he was awarded the Centenary Medaal and in 2008 the OAM.

Les Erdi  was buried in Melbourne today.

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