90th Anniversary of the Jewish War Memorial

November 14, 2013 by  
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The NAJEX annual Communal Wreath Laying and Remembrance Day Service has been held at the NSW Jewish War Memorial, Darlinghurst, with over 140 people attending, many being Jewish ex-servicemen and women.

Norm Seligman CEO of SJM, Upton and Sol E President of the Russian Sub-Branch of NAJEX

Norm Seligman CEO of SJM, Upton and Sol E President of the Russian Sub-Branch of NAJEX    Photos: Alan Shaw

Charles Aronson, President of NAJEX, welcomed several distinguished guests, including the Hon. Gabrielle Upton MP, Minister for Sport and Recreation, representing the NSW Premier and the Hon Walt Secord MLC, representing the NSW Leader of the Opposition.

The Guest Speaker was the recently commissioned Flight Lieutenant Chaplain Rabbi Yossi Friedman. Chaplain Friedman, Rabbi of Cremorne Synagogue, spoke eloquently of the key role of commemoration and memory in Jewish tradition, and also about his path to becoming the first Jewish Chaplain in the history of the RAAF, indeed one of the youngest Chaplains in the ADF.

The service featured a colour party provided by the 3rd Rose Bay (Judean) Scout Group and prayers recited by Chaplain Rabbis Jeffrey Kamins (Army), Mendel Kastel (NSW Police), Jeremy Lawrence (NSW Disaster Relief), and Dovid Slavin (NSW Ambulance / Fire and Rescue). The Last Post and Reveille in honour of the almost 500 Jewish servicemen and women, who gave the supreme sacrifice in their service of Australia, was superbly played by NAJEX Honorary Bugler, Louis Orner.

Chaplain Rabbi Friedman, Upton, Rebbetzin Hanna Friedman

Chaplain Rabbi Yossi Friedman, Gabrielle Upton, Rebbetzin Hanna Friedman

This year’s commemoration coincided with the 90th anniversary of the NSW Jewish War Memorial, which was opened by General Sir John Monash on Remembrance Day in 1923. It was in fact, Australia’s first official war memorial building. So this year’s important anniversary was marked by an address from its chairman, Lieutenant Colonel Brian Nebenzahl OAM RFD, who is also current President of FAJEX. He briefly recounted the history of the building, which now houses the Sydney Jewish Museum, and paid tribute to those people who had the vision to create and renew this vital part of the Sydney Jewish community’s infrastructure.

Following the commemoration ceremony, Charles Aronson displayed NAJEX’s new website and officially launched the Centenary of Anzac Jewish Program. The CoAJP will encompass a range of projects, coordinated by the ECAJ, over the Federal Government’s Anzac Centenary period from 2014 to 2018, including:

–   Publication of an engaging book regarding Jews in Australia’s military history, by popular author and military editor, Mark Dapin (‘Spirit House’ et al).

–   A National Jewish War Memorial at the ACT Jewish Centre in Canberra.

–  Participation in international commemorative events at Gallipoli, 2015 and in Israel, 2017 and 2018.

–   Anzac Centenary commemorative events in each State capital and Canberra

–   An exclusive Anzac Photographic Exhibition in 2015-16 at the Sydney Jewish Museum.

– A General Sir John Monash Exhibition in 2015 at the Jewish Museum of Australia (Melbourne).

–   Development of educational programs and materials, including a DVD.

–   Workshops/seminars in relation to Australian Jewish military history.

–   Publication of a ‘Biographical Dictionary of Jews in the 1st AIF’ by Ben Hirsh

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