Rabin memorial in Double Bay

November 2, 2015 by Henry Benjamin
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Nestling in the shade of an olive tree sits a memorial to the late Yitzhak Rabin….not in Israel but metres away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s busy Double Bay.

Ygal Shapir and the memorial Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Ygal Shapir, the olive tree and the memorial Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

The spot held a special meaning for JNF shaliach Ygal Shapir who had met Rabin in the course of his duties as a naval officer and who is currently still in contact with the assassinated prime minister’s daughter.

Shapir approached Woollahra Council  pointing out that the lettering on the memorial had become badly faded and bird droppings had disfigured the late Israeli Prime Minister’s photograph.

The memorial was established in 2000 by the Jewish National Fund under the auspices of Woollahra Council with the stone itself sent from Israel.

Six months ago, Shapir wrote to Rabin’s daughter Dalia whom he knows personally requesting a new photograph to replace the damaged one.

Last week, Shapir finished his tour of duty in Sydney and has now returned to Israel.

Closeup of the inscription

Closeup of the inscription

Yitzhak Rabin's son Yuval visits the memorial with former JNF CEO Rob Schneider in 2005

Yitzhak Rabin’s son Yuval visits the memorial with former JNF CEO Rob Schneider in 2005

Believing that the Council had not yet fixed up the memorial he decided two days before leaving Sydney to  have a last check. To his surprise he found that the writing had been touched up and the new photograph was in place.

“Given that Israel is now commemorating the 20th anniversary of his murder, it is more than a fitting time to have completed this restorative project. I am leaving Australia with a warm heart knowing that this job has been completed.”

Shapir told J-Wire that the olive tree was gifted to the project by an Israeli living in South Australia where he runs an olive orchard.

Shapir told J-Wire: “I met Yitzhak Rabin when he was Minister of Defence and he accepted a project I was behind to build the Sa’ar V corvettes in the U.S. although the vessels’ electronics were to be produced and fitted in Israel.

Australia has more than one physical association with the late Prime Minister. A feature of the Rabin Centre in Tel Aviv are the Triguboff Gardens donated by Sydney philanthropist Harry Triguboff.

Many members of Sydney’s Jewish community would have strolled past the memorial in Double Bay over the years without knowing of its existence.

Now the restored work stands resplendent in Double Bay’s Guilfoyle Park allowing Sydneysiders and visitors to the Harbour City to spend a few reflective moments thinking about the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize winner who was to come to a violent death the following year.

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