Centenary of Anzac: We will remember them
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Centenary of Anzac: We will remember them

For our 10-page Centenary of Anzac feature, see this week’s AJN

TIME is running out for those who wish to attend the Anzac Centenary Commemorative Service of the NSW Jewish Community and who have not yet registered.

One thousand people are expected to pack The Great Synagogue on Sunday, May 3 to pay tribute to the Jewish men and women who have served in Australia’s armed forces and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is expected to headline a list of dignitaries which will also include NSW Governor David Hurley, NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton, leading Australian Defence Force representatives and other government ministers and MPs.

Chair of the Event Committee, Garry Browne, said he was thankful to have so many high-profile dignitaries attending.

“I think it’s reflective of the importance and significance of this event,” he said.

“I think they very much recognise, acknowledge and appreciate the involvement that we, the Jewish community, have had in so many theatres of war, and [that] we are always there to stand up and support our country and our community.”

He added that organisers are delighted with the response from the community thus far.

“I think that we’re certainly going to achieve our ambition of a thousand people sitting in The Great Synagogue, which will be the most fabulous atmosphere,” he said.

Among other elements, the event will feature a special audio visual presentation, joint schools choir, pipers/drummers and representatives from the 3rd Rose Bay Judean Scout Group.

Browne said the service would have a “wonderful balance” of commemorative and religious elements.

“The committee and many supporters have spent an enormous amount of time, both from a religious Jewish perspective but also from a commemorative and military perspective … to ensure that we are covering and reflecting on all aspects of those who are involved and have been involved in theatres of war,” he said.

He said it was fabulous to see the many organisations involved in the service working together to facilitate the event.

“Isn’t it a fabulous accolade and a great feeling of united focus to have so many of our community working together?” he asked.

“When you have alignment, you have focus and you have outstanding outcomes.”

He urged those who have not yet registered to be quick.

“If you have any thoughts about participating, then I would certainly get onto the website and make it known that you want to participate in this event,” he said.

“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and something you won’t ever forget.”

While registration is free, those who wish to make a donation of $825 or more towards funding the event will receive one of only 100 special limited edition slouch hats in the style worn by diggers during World War I.

The NSW event is on Sunday, May 3 at 3pm. More details/registration (essential): www.anzac100years.com.au.

In Victoria, meanwhile, a new obelisk will be erected in the Jewish section of the Melbourne General Cemetery, listing the fallen Jewish Anzacs of the two World Wars, after a fundraising campaign by the Victorian Association of Jewish & Ex-Servicemen and Women (VAJEX).

The original obelisk built in 1924 by the Chevra Kadisha eventually included the names of 79 World War I and 56 World War II servicemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice. However, research by VAJEX president Judy Landau created a surprise. She said she “was shocked to find that 19 World War I and four World War II names were either not Jewish, not Victorian or didn’t exist”.

Landau is now seeking the help of the public to come forward with any information which could shed light on the names in question, as all names to go on the new obelisk must be Jewish and with a connection to Victoria.

She is also collecting photographs of all Victorian Jewish servicemen and women, both fallen and returned, to be included on the Jewish Nominal Roll.

The obelisk project has received funding from the Pratt Foundation, the Department of Veteran Affairs and Eva and Marc Besen.

VAJEX’s Centenary of Anzac Commemoration Service will be held on Sunday, April 26, at 10.30am at Glen Eira Town Hall Auditorium, with guest speaker Tim Fischer, former deputy PM, and author of Maestro John Monash: Australia’s Greatest Citizen General.

Fischer is campaigning for greater recognition of Sir John Monash’s role in World War I and in the postwar era when, as an engineer, he became a pivotal force in building Victoria’s civil infrastructure.

Centenary of Anzac commemorations in the Jewish community will start tonight (Thursday) when Melbourne Hebrew Congregation holds a commemorative function titled “We Will Remember Them” at 7.30pm. The keynote address will be delivered by Major-General Jeffrey Rosenfeld, a direct descendant of Sir John Monash.

“The synagogue has a long and close association with Victorian and Australian history because it is over 170 years old,” organiser Dr Margot Sims said.

“We feel very strongly about honouring what these men and women did for this country and how they ensured that we have a democratic country to live in today where we can live freely.”

For more information about the VAJEX obelisk, call 1300 824 000 or email president@jewishmilitaryvic.org.au.

GARETH NARUNSKY AND PETER KOHN

NAJEX president Charles Aronson with a limited edition slouch hat.

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