Amazing tales at JNF Gala dinner

October 15, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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Over 800 guests gathered to hear tales of the rescue of Syrian Jews, the hardships of life on the front line in Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the Northern Negev and view a video link interview with Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem at the JNF Gala dinner in Sydney.

Judy Feld Carr

Judy Feld Carr          Photo: Henry Benjamin

Over a 28 year period, Canadian  Judy Feld Carr helped support and secretly remove 3,228 Syrian Jews (out of a total of 4,500 living there when she started) who were prohibited from leaving.

Working with smugglers and bribing government officials – there was much bribery involved – she saved many of that persecuted community from a life of intense suffering.

When Feld Carr pointed out that with the present fighting and destruction, Syria “may no longer exist” and there are unlikely to be sites or signs of Jewish life left. If there had been Jews still living there now, she pondered on their likely fate had they remained in the country which had become “their virtual prison”.

Because of the immense amount of bribery she had to organise, “Jews were being sold like livestock and I was buying them one at a time” she said when describing the difficulties of getting people out of Syria. It was imperative that there was no publicity surrounding the Canadian’s effors to carry out the rescues. Over almost three decades,  she remained “in the shadows”.

Yanina Barnea

Yanina Barnea    Photo: Henry Benjamin

The final group to be smuggled out of Syria, arrived in New York just before the attack on the World Trade Centre in September 2001.

Situated less than one kilometre from Gaza, Kibbutz Nahal Oz has been the direct target of Hamas rocket attacks for many years. Last year the kibbutz community lost Daniel Tragerman, 4, who was killed before reaching the safety of a bunker.

Yanina, a lifetime resident of the kibbutz, described everyday life as a mother of two young children and how everyone has been on constant alert.  She told the guests at the dinner “When a red alarm goes off, the inhabitants have just 15 seconds to reach safety.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat

We have to stay on guard at all times.”

This vulnerable community survives in spite of the hardship and the families who have remained are determined to survive, grow and prosper despite the constant threat of terror. For this they need access to more water and JNF Australia will help Nahal Oz to redevelop their water management system and double the water capacity.

In a video hookup necessitated by the cancellation of his trip due to the current troubles in his city, mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat was interviewed by the ABC’s  Michaela Kalowski. He said that Jerusalem has undergone a flourishing renaissance in recent times and that “we are all shareholders in the city”. He encouraged Australians to visit and see the changes in the growing metropolis.

Judi Feld Carr and Yanina Barnea will tell their stories at JNF functions in Melbourne and Perth.


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