FORMER head of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and erstwhile CEO of El Al, Elyezer Shkedy, strives to live life according to some powerful maxims.
“Dare to do it, even the sky is not the limit,” he advised the 1200-strong crowd at JNF’s annual campaign dinner in Sydney on Tuesday.
Shkedy said how, in 2003, one of his base commanders suggested the IAF fly above Auschwitz as a “symbol that means a lot to all of us”, he recalled the base commander saying.
Poland refused to approve the proposal, declaring the airspace above Auschwitz a peace zone, he relayed.
But refusing to relent, he advised the base commander to persevere – the flyover still a reminder to “remember, never forget, and rely only on ourselves”, as Shkedy later wrote of the mission.
Sharing some personal memories, Shkedy told how his father continually questioned why he survived the Holocaust when his family all perished.
Then, in 2015, Shkedy showed his father a letter he had received from former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert that complimented the IAF’s attack in 2007 on Syria’s nuclear reactor.
“At the end of the letter, Olmert had handwritten, ‘Send warm regards to your father’,” Shkedy stated.
His father understood, Shkedy believed, that he had survived so that his son and the IAF could work to ensure Israel’s survival.
Raising funds to establish the Kadesh Barnea Environmental Education Centre, guests heard from Hila Kaplan, who relocated to Kadesh Barnea – situated close to Egypt – in 2011.
“We believed that in order to ensure the sustainability of the Jewish nation we needed to settle its territory,” she said, before extending gratitude to the Australian JNF community for its support.
JNF NSW president David Moses commended the “modern pioneers” of Israel – “those on the peripheries of our nation, in the Negev, protecting Israel’s borders and laying the groundwork for generations to come”.
He remarked, “Almost 50 years before the modern state of Israel was established, JNF was there to pioneer and nurture a foundation for the future of the Jewish people. In 1948 we were there when that dream became a reality, and in 2019 we are still here, stronger than ever and ready to continue our vision.”
Meanwhile, world-renowned master mentalist Lior Suchard’s incredulous ability to mind-read and make predictions had guests perched on the edge of their seats.
Suchard also performed at the first JNFuture dinner for young adults on Wednesday, and funds raised will go towards supporting the Ach Gadol program for lone soldiers.
Both Shkedy and Suchard appeared at JNF Victoria’s annual dinner last night (Thursday).