Tasmania holds ANZAC Centenary remembrance service

November 2, 2016 by J-Wire
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Dozens of dignitaries joined thirty  international and interstate visitors  at the Anzac Centenary Remembrance Service of the Tasmanian Jewish Community.

 Alderman Bill Harvey (representing Lord Mayor of Hobart City Council) and Jordana Schmidt, President of Hobart Hebrew Congregation....

Alderman Bill Harvey (representing Lord Mayor of Hobart City Council) and Jordana Schmidt, President of Hobart Hebrew Congregation and Peter Allen, National Coordinator CoAJP.

Jordana Schmidt, President of the Hobart Hebrew Congregation, welcomed more than 100 people attended the special service held last Sunday at the historic Hobart Synagogue in Argyle St, in anticipation of the forthcoming Remembrance Day on 11th November.

The service combined military and religious components and began with Police Pipe Major Robert Trimble leading the Official Party into Australia’s oldest synagogue (built in 1845).

ADF Chaplain Sydney’s Rabbi Yossi Friedman (RAAF Richmond) introduced the service with the beautiful singing of Psalm 23 and highlighted the importance in Jewish tradition of ‘Zachor’ – ‘Memory’: a characteristic that encompasses more than simply ‘History’.

Peter Allen, National Coordinator of the Centenary of ANZAC Jewish Program (CoAJP) spoke in his Centenary Address of how the 15 Tasmanian Jews that served in the AIF in WWI held the same desire as all diggers – to fight for peace, freedom and tolerance – in particular the two who made the supreme sacrifice:

  • 2/Lt Herbert Ansell of the 8th Machine Gun Company was Killed in Action 23 October 1916 whilst trying to fix a gun – near Bapaume, France during the Battle of the Somme – his burial exactly 100 years ago, being delayed due to his body lying in ‘No-man’s land’ for several days before it could be recovered. Ansell was Dux of The Hutchins School in 1896, and so the current Headmaster, Mr Warwick Dean, laid a wreath in his memory.
  • Gunner Felix Bloch, born in Deloraine in 1897, who was Killed in Action 17 August 1918 by a high explosive shell. Allen quoted from the Red Cross Records that “Bloch was buried with the other 4 [members of the 106th Howitzer Battery], who were killed outright at the same time, in graves dug close together. The graves were just where they fell. Bloch was a Jew and had a special cross, like a star fish [i.e. ‘Star of David’], put on his grave. …. Colonel Cohen, who was also a Jew, read the Jewish burial service over Bloch’s grave.” Both Felix brother, Henry Bloch and cousin, Cpl Simeon Sternberg of Latrobe, served in the same 6th Field Artillery Brigade.

Peter Allen noted that the Glasser family was represented by Debbie and Robert Sleigh of Sydney, who had generously donated to the CoAJP for these Tasmanian projects, and was recorded on the new Honour Roll with three names: Pte Hyman Glasser of Launceston, gassed in 1917, and his nephews Sam and Neil Glasser of the 2nd AIF and RAAF. Their father, Joe Glasser (Hyman Glasser’s brother) was the proprietor of the well-known Tasmanian menswear retail chain, ‘Glasser and Parker’.

Neil Glasser MVO and Ellis Goldberg, both surviving WWII Tasmanian Jewish ex-servicemen aged 98 and 95 respectively and who now live in Sydney, sent their apologies and best wishes.

Also donor to the event was Owen Griffiths and seventeen other members of the Griffiths/Cohen family, who had flown from Mauritius and Sydney to attend the service in honour of their convict ancestors and founding members of the Hobart Hebrew Congregation in 1845: Sarah and Philip Marks, Rosetta and Abraham Rheuben, the latter a Hobart Town Alderman.

The Hobart Roll of Honour

The Hobart Roll of Honour

Among the guests were three Major-Generals Aziz Gregory Melick, Head Centenary of ANZAC Planning Team, Steven Smith (Ret’d), Chair of the Board of Directors of St John Ambulance Tasmania, and Professor Jeffrey V. Rosenfeld, former Surgeon General of the Australian Army and a Patron of the CoAJP.  Major General Rosenfeld spoke in his ANZAC address of the proud record of some 7,000 Jewish servicemen and women who served in the Australian Defence Forces in the two World Wars, including over 350 who made the supreme sacrifice: proportionally no less than the general population. He also highlighted the valour of Lt. Leonard Keysor VC (1915 at Lone Pine), the leadership, innovative tactics and respect for men’s lives of Sir John Monash and the continuing commitment of Australian Jewish men and women to service in the ADF, including since WWII, no less exemplified than by Pte Greg Sher, KiA 4 January 2009 in Afghanistan.

Senator Eric Abetz, representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, unveiled a splendid ‘Roll of Honour of the Jewish Community of Tasmania’, made from Tasmanian blackwood and inscribed with the names of 42 Tasmanian Jews who served in the Boer War, WWI and WWII – a project largely funded by a Department of Veterans Affairs’ Anzac Centenary Local Grant and endorsed by Andrew Wilkie, MP for Denison. Rabbi Yochanan Gordon of Chabad Tasmania (Launceston) recited a blessing to dedicate the new addition to the Hobart Synagogue.

MP Elise Archer, Speaker of the House of Assembly, highlighted in her Remembrance Address the outstanding dedication of Dr Eveline Cohen (born Eveline Benjamin in 1879, Hobart), a graduate of Presentation College (now St Mary’s) Hobart, and one of the first Tasmanian-born women to graduate in Medicine, who served in 1915-16 at British military hospitals in England, Salonika and Malta alongside the Royal Army Medical Corps. She was made an Honorary Life Member of the British Red Cross Society for her work with Voluntary Aid Detachments earlier in the war.

As well as the dignitaries identified above, wreaths were also laid by the Tasmanian representatives of the RAN, Army and RAAF; the Police, RSL and Legacy, and the Hobart City Council, to the accompaniment of Pipe Major Trimble’s playing of ‘The Lament’.

After the recitation of the Ode by Gnr Aaron Evans of the Army Reserve and Julie Leder, Vice President of the Victorian Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, the Last Post and Rouse were played by CPL Ash Thomson of the Australian Army Band Tasmania.

Chaplain Rabbi Friedman continued with memorial prayers in Hebrew and English, before leading the singing of the National Anthem and the traditional closing prayer of ‘Adon Olam’: appropriately sung to the tune of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ for this occasion.

Subsequently, Hobart City Council kindly hosted a reception at the Hobart City Town Hall.  There, on behalf of the Lord Mayor Alderman Sue Hickey, Alderman Bill Harvey recalled, as well as their military service, the long association of the Hobart Hebrew Congregation and the service of many of its past members in Local and State Government.

As a token of appreciation from the Hobart Hebrew Congregation, President Jordana Schmidt presented the Hobart City Council with a framed photograph of the newly dedicated ‘Roll of Honour of the Jewish Community of Tasmania’.

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