MORE than 200 people gathered at the Jewish War Memorial in Perth’s Kings Park for a ceremony last month to mark 100 years since its foundation stone was laid by General Sir John Monash, and to witness the unveiling of a new plaque.
A century ago on December 19, Perth Hebrew Congregation’s Rabbi David Isaac Freedman welcomed Monash by saying, “This particular day is appropriate as it is Chanukah, the Feast of the Maccabees, and the very first stone is about to be laid by the greatest Maccabee of modern times.”
As Dr Keith Shilkin – a Perth native and president of the Federal Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women (FAJEX) – explained, Rabbi Freedman had returned from active service determined to establish the memorial to honour the 40 fallen Jewish Diggers from his state. He had launched a fundraising drive, which Shilkin’s grandfather, Max, donated to.
“Monash had many West Australians serving under him during the Great War, including the famous 16th battalion which at one stage was commanded by the Perth Jewish community’s Colonel Eliazar Margolin,” Shilkin said.
“And Monash was well aware of Freedman, as the rabbi had served as his Jewish chaplain on the Western Front.
“After laying the foundation stone, Monash said he trusted the memorial would long stand as a symbol of patriotic service and great sacrifice in the nation’s cause.”
The latest addition to the memorial, a Boer War plaque, was unveiled, meanwhile, by Shilkin, WAJEX president Warren Austin, Jewish Community Council of WA president Joan Hillman, and military historian John Sweetman.
It honours Trooper Alfred Henry Marks from Perth – who was 19 when he was shot during the Battle of Bakenlaagte in October 1901, moments after rescuing a wounded comrade – and Private Herbert Abraham Solomon, 19, who enlisted in Kalgoorlie and was killed in action at Jankanisteke Farm, near what is now Kruger National Park, in April 1901.