Happy 100th, Gerda

August 10, 2021 by Community newsdesk
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Gerda Buckwalter, a long-standing stalwart of the Sydney Jewish community celebrates her 100th birthday on Wednesday.

Gerda Buckwalter

Forced to leave Germany in 1937 and unable to take up her place in the Berlin Higher School of Fashion, Gerda made a new life for herself in Australia. She established a dress-making business in Sydney and became part of the Sydney Jewish community.

She was the Sydney administrator for the Friends of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, raising money to open the first bone-marrow unit at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

Gerda was an early member of North Shore Temple Emanuel in Chatswood, including as a teacher in its Wednesday Religion School in the 1960s.

She volunteered over many years supporting the community through the Sydney Jewish Museum, Montefiore Home and B’nai Brith. Gerda was the chair of the Einstein B’nai Brith chapter and volunteered in the B’nai Brith Shop in Surry Hills until age 93.

Gerda Buckwalter as a newly arrived immigrant from Europe in 1937.

North Shore Temple Emanuel’s Rabbi Nicole Roberts says, “Gerda is a living representative of a generation who, in spite of the impact of war, built a life for themselves and their community. Gerda’s strength, determination, love for family, keen intellect, and positivity are an inspiration to all who meet her.”

Gerda was married to Henry Buckwalter in Sydney during the war. Henry was also born in Breslau, Germany. They had two children but eventually separated. David was born in 1945 and Janet in 1949. The family today comprises 2 children, 6 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

In later years, Gerda was a partner for an extended period of Eric Dreikurs, a well-known contributor to the Jewish community.

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