Standing up for a better world
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Standing up for a better world

A book celebrating the contributions of some of the most outstanding Jewish Australian humanitarians, philanthropists and social justice activists was launched last week at the Jewish Museum of Australia (JMA).

From left: Deborah Blashki-Marks (editor), Gary Samowitz (Stand Up CEO), John and Pauline Gandel, Lillian Kline. Photo: David Cohen photography.
From left: Deborah Blashki-Marks (editor), Gary Samowitz (Stand Up CEO), John and Pauline Gandel, Lillian Kline. Photo: David Cohen photography.

A BOOK celebrating the contributions of some of the most outstanding Jewish Australian humanitarians, philanthropists and social justice activists was launched on Thursday night at the Jewish Museum of Australia (JMA).

The book, titled Standing Up: Jewish Australians Committed to a Better World, is produced by Stand Up and features a series of intimate interviews and photographic portraits.

It also includes members of the community that Stand Up engages, including Indigenous elders and leaders from the Sudanese refugee community.

Speaking on the night, co-editor and project manager Lillian Kline lauded “an incredibly committed team of volunteers” who have worked together for three years to complete the book.

“It quickly became apparent that there was a much bigger story to tell than that of a few individuals, or one social justice organisation,” Kline said. “That there was the amazing story of the Jewish contribution to Australian society and the world in general.”

Of the message she hopes people will take from the book, she said: “The power to change things that you don’t like really is within each of us, irrespective of who you are.

“You might be lucky enough to be a major philanthropist, but you might be unlucky enough to have arrived here on a boat. And it doesn’t really matter. Because all of us are equally able to commit to making the world a better place,” Kline said.

On hand to formally launch the book was John Gandel AO, who is himself one of the book’s subjects.

Speaking predominantly about the importance of philanthropy, “every one of us has a responsibility to inspire giving,” he said.

“For Jewish people, philanthropy is in our bones and our genes. Our Torah scroll even speaks of philanthropy.”

The event featured an Indigenous dancing performance, and was attended by Uncle Boydie Turner, the grandson of William Cooper.

Importantly, the evening also marked the launch of a corresponding exhibition at the JMA, titled Standing Up: Portraits of Social Justice. The exhibition features a selection of the portraits from the book, as photographed by Woodrow Wilson.

Director and CEO of the JMA Rebecca Forgasz said the museum is delighted to present this exhibition in partnership with Stand Up.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase some of the inspiring contributions that Jewish Australians have made to Australian society over the years,” Forgasz said.

The book is available for sale at www.standupmedia.com.au and at the JMA for the duration of the exhibition, which is running until January 15, 2017.

PHOEBE ROTH

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