Three turn 100 at Sydney’s Randwick Montefiore Home

March 18, 2009 by J-Wire
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It is telegrams from the Queen this month for three residents of the Montefiore Home in Sydney.And for two of the centenerians the telegrams will have special meaning….as they were born in London.

Minnie Davies turns 100 on March 21. She remembers her early years in London.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - Minnie Davis and Marsha Hildebrand

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - Minnie Davis and Marsha Hildebrand

Her parents were immigrants from Russia and Poland who settled in London’s East End. The youngest of nine, Minnie remembers being the last to get the weekly bath…and how she rarely had clean water! She says: “Life was tough and it was the survival of the fittest and being poor did me no harm…it taught me to appreciate the good things.”  During World War II, Minnie and her husband Emanuel made uniforms for the army…and Emanuel doubled up as a part-time fireman dealing with the frequent bombing raids on London during the Blitz.

The Montefiore became her home last November after 20 years of living in Sydney. She loves the “Monte” and says “there is nothing to grumble about.” A strong participant in the Home’s activities, she enjoys the movies, concerts, bingo…and life. Her secret to long life? Minnie says: “I never worried about anything…never stressed. I don’t want to worry my two daughters or anyone…especially the nursing staff. I don’t give age a thought. Every day is a bonus ….my mother said ‘worry doesn’t go in your boots – it goes in your head and makes you sick.”

Marsha Hildebrand will turn 100 on March 27. She also survived the Blitz, migrated to Australia and had three children and nine grandchildren.

Deeply committed to communal life, Marsha was active in EZRA, the Council of Ageing and the National Council of Jewish Women.

During her life, Marsha was an ardent traveller with a special love for the United States.

Her secret? “Everything in moderation. But I do love hamentashen and I wish Purim was a year-round festival.”

On the way the world has changed, Marsha still remembers seeing the first traffic lights function at an intersection on London’s Baker Street.

Described by Montefiore staff as “a very spirited woman with a sharp sense of humour”, Marsha adds “I’m as tough as they come.”

She lays claim to having had a wonderful life,  enjoying spending much of it in the company of her children.

Alexandria in Egypt is a long way from London…especially  in 1909. It was there on 9th of March that a baby girl was born on the eve of Purim. It was no surprise she was named Esther.

Esther Abecassis went to work at 13 as her father had died at an early age and the family was poor, needing to lie about her age as it was illegal to employ anyone under 15.

She married her husband Leon in 1934.

In 1956, following the outbreak of the Suez War, Egypt’s Jews were forced to leave the country and Esther  and Leon headed for Canada with their four children. In 1970 they made the move to Australia to be with one of their daughters. Esther now has 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Esther’s secret? “I never smoked or drank…I can’t believe I am 100. I feel 21 again.”

As well as a telegram for the Queen, the three residents can expect congratulations from Kevin Rudd, Malcolm Turnbull and Governor Marie Bashir.

The Montefiore Home expects to have hosted around twenty 100 years birthday parties by the end of the year.

A spokesperson told J-Wire: “This is first time we have experienced three residents turning 100 in the same month.”

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