Parliamentarians visit the Sydney Jewish Museum

September 5, 2011 by Henry Benjamin
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Greens MP Jamie Parker was one of many NSW politicians who visited the Sydney Jewish Museum today…and he was captivated by the stories of the Holocaust animatedly told by veteran guide Eddie Jaku.

Eddie Jaku and Jamie Parker

Parker told  J-Wire: “He is an amazing man. It was absolutely thrilling to have been able to have met with him. It is my first visit to the museum . I’m speechless. I have just heard a very personal story from a survivor…an amazing experience. The Greens member for Balmain said Jaku’s vitality his life his passion is quite moving.  I am very aware of the Holocaust. I learned about it at school and of course have read a lot about it but hearing a personal story is very touching. Hearing a story about escape and the tragedy and the brutal nature of his survival is really quite incredible. It gives the Holocaust a personal face and it’s such a privilege to be taken on a tour by a survivor. To hear his story gives it such intimate realism and paints a powerful picture. He is a wonderful man.

Victor Dominello listens to Olga Horack Pic: Henry Benjamin

He added: I could hear his stories a hundred times…in my own personal history, my great grandfather laws Jewish and changed his name when he went to live in England. My mother went to a Jewish school in Liverpool but no-one really ever knew why. It makes me want to explore my past and find out why he left Germany for England and obviously anti-Semitism was very prevalent even before the advent of the Nazis. I will be following my personal history up and hope the museum can help. My mother is currently studying and is very interested in following it up…”

Two of the members if the parliament have constituencies with large Jewish presence.  Gabrielle Upton is the lIberal member for Vaucluse and Bruce Notley-Smith is the Liberal member for Coogee.

It was not the first visit to the museum for the two Eastern Suburbs politicians.

Gabrielle Upton and Bruce Notley-Smith

Gabrielle Upton told J-Wire: “I have visited the Jewish Museum a number of times now. My first visit was a one on one visit guided by Eddie Jaku. The visit enhanced my knowledge of the Holocaust. The lessons we can learn by visiting the mesuem are that the tragedies, the atrocities and yet the hope and the wonderful work  done by those who assisted the Jews are lessons we can take to the broader community.  I don’t think we can properly  understand history or social justice without an appreciation of the Holocaust it has lessons both good and bad about our society and  the place of good and bad within it.”

“I come into contact with survivors usually at commemorations and community events and celebrations. I have met quite a number of them now and what strikes me is the intense hope and positive approach they have to what were grotesque events in their lives and they have been able to move forward with positivity and work productively and peacefully within our Australian community. I am also mindful of spreading the messages of their dark past.

Upton said she has encouraged family and friends to visit the museum.

Bruce Notley-Smith  told J-Wire that he had visited the museum  before but “had never been shown around as I have been today.” Notley-Smith was also guided by Eddi Jaku.He told J-Wire: “The survivors who live in my constituency are not as forth-coming as others but I am made aware that they are. I think the most important message we can get out of this museum is that this is not just about anti-Semitism this is about pure evil that human beings can descend into and the illustration that we get from this place that unless all of us are robust and hold up not only our rights but the rights of others then we can what can happens…and so quickly. We can descend into barbarism. I will make sure that all of the schools in my electorate will visit the Sydney Jewish Museum.”

The Parliamentarians and their guides Pic: Henry Benjamin

The visit organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies in conjunction with the Museum. The NSWJBD CEO Vic Alhadeff told J-Wire: “We had many Ministers in the group today including Graham Annesley, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Victor Dominello Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Donald Page MP  Minister for Local Government, Robyn Parker MP Minister for Environment and Heritage and Attorney-General Greg Smith.

Olga Horack, Eddie Jaku and David Benedikt, all survivors, were the official guides.



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