History and Continuity

July 21, 2011 by J-Wire Staff
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Helen Bersten, the Australian Jewish Historical Society’s Sydney office’s long-time archivist has retired after 33 years of voluntary service.


Dr Sophie Gelski and Helen Bersten


Bersten started as the assistant to the late historian Dr. George Bergman in 1978 has seen many changes at the Society. She has served with 6 presidents, 5 secretaries (including veteran Louise Rosenberg, who at 97 is still doing historical research and writing), and 3 treasurers. She supervised the Society’s move to Mandelbaum House 15 years ago, but does not want to organise another move, although the archives’ collection is overflowing its room.

That task will be the responsibility of historian Dr. Sophie Gelski, who will take up the reins on June 1. She will be ably assisted by secretary Philip Moses, treasurer Russell Stern, genealogist Jeannette Tsoulos and our wonderful volunteers Noela Symonds, Barbara Temple and Judy Solomon. Sophie is conducting oral history interviews with third and fourth generation Australians and is keen to see Australian Jewish history taught in schools. She brings enthusiasm and vision to the Society’s committee and we are delighted to welcome her aboard. She is planning an exciting archival afternoon later in the year to coincide with the B’nai B’rith Day of Culture.

Helen Bersten will remain a member of the Society’s editorial committee and will be ready to give advice and assistance to Sophie as the new archivist. She expects to catch up with friends and colleagues at the Society’s regular meetings and hopes to see new faces joining this 73 year old organisation which could be the Jewish community’s best-kept secret.

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