Waitangi Day in Israel

February 11, 2010 by Yitzhak Treister
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The Americans have 4th of July, the Moroccans have the Mimona and  Kiwis have Waitangi day.

Fifty of our group got together for a fascinating and enjoyable evening in Raanana including Mrs, Durden and Nava Kantor, Jill and Mike Rogoff, Shemi Tzur the Israeli ambassador-designate to New Zealand, just to mention a few.

As we waited outside for the others to arrive, we had a chance to taste the latest excellent kosher New Zealand wine, kindly served by a sales rep from Kidashta, a boutique wine store in Modiin.

What better way than to start with a passionate Haka kindly supplied by All Blacks.Com.

Jon Boock  followed with a short apology sent in by the current New Zealand ambassador to Israel who is resident in Turkey. He then began a review of the year’s events which included  the historic first New Zealand film festival held in March 2009 coordinated brilliantly by his daughter Yael. It was a huge success and the flying in of John Barnett and Vincent Ward was indeed a coup.

Jon made mention of members who had passed away during the last year including Roger Benjamin, Norman Cohen and his wife, and Bert Schorr’s wife Channa. May their memories be blessed.

Jon mentioned Gael Keren and her contribution in singling out Chris Finlayson when he was in the opposition, getting him to Israel and turning him into a staunch supporter of Israel. As Chris is now Minister of Cultural affairs, there is indeed a wonderful bridge to build on. Jon also mentioned the new appointment of the Israeli ambassador to NZ and the possibility of an up and coming trade visit by NZ members of parliament.

Then it was the turn of yours truly. I was able to convey warm greetings from our “sister organization” run by of course my sister Gael!! Gael told us how the Zionist Fed and the whole New Zealand Jewish community are excitedly awaiting Ambassador Shemi Tzur’s arrival.

I  raised the idea of establishing a resource centre in Israel, whether it be virtual or real, to show in a concrete fashion the contribution of Kiwis to Israel. We hope that this and also some more social events will materialize this coming year.

The background movie about Japan in the 1940’s and the life of Japanese Consul-General Chiune Sugihara was absolutely fascinating, showing a totally different angle to the Holocaust  that I am sure many of us were not aware of.

It was made clear that this man was indeed a true righteous gentile, who issued visas to refugee Jews right up to his last minute in Lithuania. He of course knew there would at some point be severe consequences for his actions, but as a decent human being he realised that on his watch he had the opportunity to save thousands of lives, and he embraced this with incredibly brave and unflinching determination.

After the movie, Bert Schorr  told us about his escape from  Lithuania to Japan and then finally to New Zealand, and the terrible bind they were in at that time became even more apparent. Russia invading on one side and Germany on the other. The sheer wits and resourcefulness of Bert’s brother-in-law in dealing with the bureaucracy and “balagan” and in so doing saving the 7 members of his family were just amazing.

In all it was a very enlightening evening. Many thanks to all those who had a part in organizing it.

See ya next year!!


One Response to “Waitangi Day in Israel”
  1. STEPHEN says:

    I want to renew my passport for new zealand and I require 1 person more who has a nz passport I require there passport number name and phone number
    I do no the Triesters but do not have there ph number
    please halp Stephen Schwartz

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