Securing the Sydney Jewish Museum’s future

October 19, 2017 by Kate Efrat
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The Sydney Jewish Museum honoured four families who have made substantial contributions to the Museum’s Endowment Fund to help ensure the future sustainability of the Museum and the vital work they do in the community.

Nanna and Gus Lehrer, Robert and Ruth Magid, Kathy and Greg Shand and Simona and Leon Kamenev

Greg and Kathy Shand, Leon and Simona Kamenev, Gus and Nanna Lehrer and Bob and Ruth Magid have pledged $10 million over the next ten years to the museum with the Shand family responsible for half the amount.

The four families are already well-known in the community for their business and communal endeavours and they have been named as the first in a special new category of donor at the Museum – the ‘Pillars of the Museum.’ This new donor category will assist in offsetting the deficit in the Museum’s operating costs, because no institution of the Museum’s calibre can manage purely on entrance fees and member subscriptions alone – a situation exacerbated by the fact that the Museum receives no government funding.

It was a glittering occasion and guests were welcomed by the Museum’s Honorary Treasurer, Gavin Solsky who lauded the families for their foresight and generosity saying “This Museum has been built on the solid foundations laid by Sydney Holocaust survivors 25 years ago this November. How fitting it now is to be honouring four families who recognise the need to secure these foundations by helping to sustain the Museum’s future through their generous contributions to our endowment fund.” The Museum’s goal is to build the size of its endowment fund capital base to the level where the income from the endowment can meet its annual operating deficit which is currently $2 million a year.

Each of the donors themselves spoke at the event about their reasons for donating to the Museum. Greg Shand said “As the children of Holocaust survivors we very much see the importance of educating the broader Australian community on our history and our culture and the Museum plays a critical and irreplaceable role in this regard.”

Leon Kamenev stated that “The Museum reminds us of the horrors that occurred in Europe during the Second World War – horrors that should never be allowed to happen again. We support the Museum in its efforts to educate future generations on the need for mutual respect and tolerance and we hope that the Museum will grow from strength to strength.”

Ruth Magid, speaking on behalf of herself and her husband, Bob told the audience that “We have supported the Sydney Jewish Museum for many years because of our belief that it is critically important to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust, to teach the history of institutionalised racism and hatred that caused the destruction of millions, in the profound hope that such knowledge will prevent a recurrence directed against any group in our society and indeed the world. We wish to undermine the efforts of anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers. We want to be part of a collective effort to explain basic Judaism to all comers and make the Museum a place of open discussion, warmth and inclusiveness.”

Finally, Museum President, Professor Gus Lehrer, addressed the guests both in his capacity as President as well as being, together with his wife Nanna, one of the four founding ‘Pillars of the Museum.’ Gus summed up their feelings by saying that “The combination of resources, events, personal involvement of a large and diverse group of people, dedication to principles which affect us all, collectively and individually, and an aura of sustainability and permanence, make the Sydney Jewish Museum a unique place.”

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