Lore Zusman’s support for Jewish National Fund spans 84 years, three continents and four generations

July 5, 2019 by Nikki Leib
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As she goes into retirement this month, Perth’s Lore Zusman has ensured her legacy with Jewish National Fund has been passed on to the next generation, with her great-grandson Ziv establishing Sababa Society, JNF’s first teen and tween society in the United States.

Lore Zusman with daughter Yvonne Edelman, son Michael Zusman and her niece Dadie Greenfeld.

After 84 years of dedication to JNF, one of Lore’s proudest moments was hearing that in 2017, Ziv was named a ‘JNF Hero’ at the JNF USA National Conference in South Florida.

Sababa Society was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 2017 by Ziv Zusman and today has hundreds of children, aged 10 – 14, participating in this exciting JNF youth network across many states. The children have regular meetings where they learn about philanthropy, fundraising, and Jewish National Fund’s unique work to support all people of Israel, through fun adventures and activities.

Lore Zusman, age 9, the start of blue box collecting in in Konigsberg,

“I’ve been involved with the Jewish National Fund all these years because Israel is very close to my heart. I always quietly hoped that my support for JNF would have an impact on my family. I’m very proud of Ziv. His leadership and involvement in Sababa Society give me great hope that JNF’s important work in Israel will continue not only through our family but through many young people around the world,” said Lore Zusman.

The Zusman Family’s involvement with JNF started in 1935 in Konigsberg, East Prussia, where Lore Zusman lived. She attended the only Jewish school in the area and at the age of 9, her inspiring school principal, David Kaelter educated the children about the importance of JNF and its work to grow the land of Israel. Lore and her friend were intrigued by the idea of being a Blue Box collector and going from house to house to collect money to help the land of Israel. They collected for 3 years, until 1938, when Kristallnacht occurred and in one moment, her school, synagogue, and the Jewish way of life was destroyed.

Lore and her only sister Eva were sent on a Kinder transport, where they endured 6 months of being separated from their parents. In March 1939, Lore and Eva heard from their mother that the family had been granted a permit to live in Australia. It was thanks to the generosity of Jos and Minnie Simenson, who sponsored the family to live in Australia and save them from a terrible fate.

In August 1939, Lore’s family had an emotional reunion in London, before embarking on an unpredictable sea voyage to Fremantle. They arrived in Western Australia in September 1939, one day before Kol Nidre. Lore was 13 years old when she started her new life Australia, where her family settled in Mt Lawley.

Years later, Lore worked in the insurance industry and married Sol Zusman and they had two children, Michael and Yvonne. Lore’s sister Eva also married and had two children. Lore and Eva lived across the street from one another and their children had the happy childhood the two girls always dreamed of. In 1980, Lore resumed volunteering for JNF and has been arriving at the office four mornings a week ever since, leading the Blue Box campaigns.

The Zusman Family in Atlanta – Ula, Lev, Noa, Ziv and Michael

Today Lore has five grandchildren and great-grandchildren living around the world. Little did Lore know that her passion for helping Israel through JNF, would have an effect on her grandchild, Michael Zusman. Michael grew up in Perth and later moved to Atlanta where he lives with his wife Ula and their three children Ziv, Lev and Noa. Michael and Ula have been major supporters of JNF for many years and their children have grown up with JNF as an important aspect of their lives. Their current focus is helping build the food-tech research hub in Kiryat Shmona.

“A special thanks to my grandmother Lore, who started me on my JNF journey many years ago, by enlisting my help collecting charity from people’s JNF Blue Boxes when I was a teenager. It felt like I was truly paying it forward many years later when my son Ziv, then aged 12, was honoured as one of six JNF Heroes at the 2017 JNF USA National Conference. The other heroes included a Major in the Israeli Army, and also a Doctor in the Israeli Army,” said Michael Zusman.

Michael went on to say, “As a parent, I cannot begin to tell you how amazing it was to see Ziv up on stage, in front of over 1000 people, sharing his idea for a new teen and tween society for JNF. To say we are proud does not do justice to the way we truly feel. To give some context, during the conference I was introduced to someone as, “this is the guy whose son is the JNF Hero”. What a great accomplishment it was to be defined by my 12-year-old kid’s achievements rather than my own.”

Dr. Sol Lizerbram, national president of Jewish National Fund-USA shared, “What Ziv has accomplished will have an enormous impact on growing the connection between young people in the United States to Israel. At a time when some say that connection is not as strong, I see the numbers and they are indicative of a generation that wants to be involved in helping the planet, innovation, and making lives better – all things that Israel does every day. Ziv’s actions with Sababa Society will strengthen our young people’s work and support for the land and people of Israel, and that is a great service and why he sits on our national board of directors at the age of 14.”

“Being Jewish for me is being part of something bigger – a community of people that share a special bond and a love of Israel. The Sababa Society will help connect Jewish teens and tweens together across the country and hopefully, the world. My hope is that the success of the Sababa Society in the U.S. can help spur an Aussie tween to start a chapter of the Sababa Society in Australia,” says Ziv.

Lore Zusman was recently honoured at JNF WA’s AGM by JNF Australia CEO, Dan Springer, as the first-ever JNF AustraliaBlue Box Worker of the Century.  At the age of almost 93, Lore has retired from her lifelong work at JNF and was honoured at a farewell function last week in Perth. Lore was joined by family, friends, representatives from almost all community organisations, and JNF volunteers she has worked with over her nearly 40 years of service in the JNF WA office. The morning tea was an opportunity to pay tribute to Lore and thank her for her years of dedication to JNF.

“Lore is a true Eshet Chayil who embodies the essence of the JNF. On behalf of the entire JNF Australia family, I would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to Lore for many decades of service to the community and Israel. We wish Lore continued nachas from her large international family and the many communities in Israel that have benefited from her good works,” said Dan Springer, CEO of JNF Australia.

Lore Zusman added: “As a Holocaust survivor, Israel has always been a beacon of light for me and other survivors. I was blessed to visit many times in my life and see how the coins from the Blue Box have made a huge impact to those living in Israel. I will never be fully retired from JNF, they have my support forever.”


2 Responses to “Lore Zusman’s support for Jewish National Fund spans 84 years, three continents and four generations”
  1. tom clarke says:

    i am after finding out about minnie heseltine sassoon thank you tom clarkr

  2. Robert Schneider says:

    I had the pleasure of working with Lore for 14 years. Our friendship endured. Lore, you are a legend & an inspiration & it is not just Ziv who looks to you as as an example of selfless dedication to a wonderful cause. Together with all who know you & love you, I wish you well. The foundation you laid continued to be built on! Your legacy continues! Your example empowers!

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