New award for Holocaust stories

October 21, 2014 by Jessica Kostera
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The inaugural Rosalind Sharbanee Meyer Writers Award was won by Dr Ross Halpin for his book The Essence of Survival, How Jewish Doctors Survived Auschwitz.

Dr Richard Halpin and Rina Huber

Dr Richard Halpin and Rina Huber

The award ceremony was held in conjunction with the Community Stories program operated by the Sydney Jewish Museum.

The Community Stories program was created to record the stories of Holocaust Survivors and assist people within the community to publish their life stories.  The program provides services such as ghost-writers, editors, proof readers, design and printing services.

“For people who don’t want to write their memoirs, we conduct interviews and the their story is preserved that way,” said project manager Jacqui Wasilewsky.

“In the beginning, the program concentrated on Holocaust histories but now accepts memoirs from those who may not be Survivors.”

Jacqui Wasilewsky, Alan Gold and Rosalind Sharbanee Meyer

Jacqui Wasilewsky, Alan Gold and Rosalind Sharbanee Meyer

To date more than 50 titles have been published, covering stories from countries including Israel, Shanghai, Singapore, South Africa, Latvia, Siberia and of course Holocaust testimonies.

“This is a very important project, as it ensures that family histories are preserved for future generations and the Museum remains a repository for stories of the Jewish community in Sydney.  Our archives are used by students and very often provide much of the information for exhibitions such as our military exhibition and several temporary exhibitions,” said Mrs Wasilewsky.

“Whilst the program has gone from strength to strength, this is the first time that we have been able to provide an award to encourage writers and to assist them financially with the costs of publication.

“Rosalind Sharbanee Meyer, who funded the award, has published several books, including Rosie’s War, which was originally published through the Community Stories program.”

Ms Meyer was born in Singapore in 1935 and arrived in Australia in 1952. She published her first book, A Window into Schizophrenia: My Brown Bear about her son’s battle with schizophrenia and his eventual suicide in 2004. The writers award was offered in his memory.

A highly commended award went to Rina Huber’s Letters to my father. Also short listed for the prize was The Rock by Maureen Mendelowitz and Children Without Tears by Judit Mitro.

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