VAJEX Remembrance Day Luncheon

November 27, 2011 by Harold J Karpin
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I arrived early for the VAJEX Australia Day Remembrance Luncheon and found the hall had been dressed and looking lonely in its emptiness.


An image of the Queen hung in the centre of three flags; Australian, Israeli and that of VAJEX. However, what caught my eye was the seventeen unlit candles lined up beside the Book of Remembrance….they stood silently at attention.

The hall had not yet been opened for the expected gathering when a knock at the door summoned attention. A very senior couple asked entry. He a little fragile and her guiding him through the empty chairs. Conversation with them revealed that they had been married for 67 years…they would have been married an extra five years had not Miriam’s father refused a wedding whilst Moshe served, with distinction, in the Merchant Navy throughout WWII. Almost hidden, among medals, on his lapel was the badge of the OAM. Arriving not so long after Miriam and Moshe were Bert and Edna who were seated at the same table. Competition between them was inevitable…..they had been married just 63 years. I don’t know what it was with that generation, but I was later to learn of an old soldier who proposed to his current partner when she turned eighty.

“G-d bless them.”

There was a buzz of excitement and expectation as the hall filled and the seventeen unlit candles remained at attention.

After the National Anthem Ben Hirsh, President of VAJEX, welcomed and introduced the official guests. This was followed by the Loyal Toast given by Mr Maurice Smith and Grace before Meals (HaMotzi) dovened by Stephen Tusak.


Then followed what was probably the most poignant part of the afternoon. The Remembrance Ceremony. Our patron MAJGEN Jeffrey V Rosenfeld AM CStJ announced the details (name, rank and serial number) of honoured members who had passed away during the year. As each name was read out members of the family were invited to come forward and light a memorial candle and the seventeen lit candles remained at attention, but with a different meaning, REMEMBRANCE….. “May Their Souls Rest In Peace.”

Ben recited the Ode which was accompanied by the haunting refrain of a military bugler. Kaddish signaled the end to this part of the ceremony…. “Lest We Forget.”

Following was to be a very interesting and forceful address by Dr Danny Lamm, President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. The address was strident in its attention to World Affairs as they affected Israel, including the need to be ready to counteract the growing evil forces of antisemitism in various guises including violence, racial abuse and economic boycotts. Dr Lamm also highlighted the work which the ECAJ undertakes on both the national and international stages, and the profound impact that such action and advocacy can have in terms of benefiting the Jewish community. Not the least of the contents of Dr Lamm’s address was the importance of REMEMBRANCE.

A number of presentations were made, including Certificates of Appreciation to Louise Dyskin and Eric Gordon for their generosity and hospitality to VAJEX and to Ruby Rose for her outstanding service to VAJEX; to Mc Diarmond a trophy in recognition of his devotion to VAJEX in rendering the Last Post and Rouse for 34 years; and to members who had played a part in bringing VAJEX forward for another year. Mention was made to our patron MAJGEN Jeffrey V Rosenfeld AM CStJ who was presented with the JCCV Community Award Certificate and the JCCV winner for year 2011

Grace After Meals (Birchat HaMazon) was benched by Chaplain Rabbi Dovid Gutnick. There followed Ha TIKVAH…. during which the seventeen lighted candles remained at attention as did those who had come to remember another year.

It would be remiss of me to end this article without including the following observation by our Vice President, Dr Judy Landau, ‘After today’s luncheon, I feel more like addressing this email as “Dear VAJEX Family”, because I went away from the luncheon with the wonderfully warm feeling of the esprit de corps that was obvious in the room.’

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