Each year on the closest Sunday to 17 January (the supposed date of the last sighting of Raoul Wallenberg, the City of Port Phillip hosts a commemoration service to help perpetuate the memory of Raoul Wallenberg and the work he did in saving tens of thousands (estimated 100,000) of Jews in Hungary during the later years of World War 2.
This year on 13 January, Phil Symons, Co-Chair of Action Wallenberg of B'nai B'rith Raoul Wallenberg Unit chaired the gathering. The meeting was addressed by: Mayor of City of Port Phillip, Cr Dick Gross, Councillor Marcus Pearl, Dr Frank Vajda, Holocaust survivor who has dedicated his life to honouring Raoul Wallenberg, Dr Peter Barta, Holocaust survivor, who gave a moving survivor testimony of his experience as a child in hiding in Hungary. Approximately 100 attendees were present. The vote of thanks was given by Simone Markus, Co-Chair of B'nai B'rith Raoul Wallenberg Unit.
Interview with Dr. Tony Weldon, Chairman of B'nai B'rith's Courage to Care, on J-AIR's Shabbat Shalom Drive.
On Thursday 13th December, BBVic hosted the final Speakers Forum for the year. Over 120 people were in attendance to hear our guest speaker, Zeddy Lawrence (National Editor of The Australian Jewish News), share his incredible insights on the topic 'Behind the News: the Role of the Jewish Press,' followed by a Q&A.
BBVic Presentations were awarded that evening to:
Evelyn & Malcolm Flitman - George Huppert Memorial Award
P/P Ruth Figdor - B'nai B'rith Recognition Award
P/P Leah Black - Certificate of Appreciation
It was also announced that the annual Leah Black Youth Art Prize will now be included in the BBVic Jewish Youth Art Competition.
These four BBVic members encapsulate the tenets of B’nai B’rith with their work both within the Jewish and wider communities.
Following on from the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting on 27 October, I reiterate that B’nai B’rith Australia/New Zealand shares in the grief suffered at the senseless loss of life of eleven Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh on Saturday morning. The rise of antisemitism is extremely troubling, and the perpetrator of this vile crime will be brought to justice, although the 11 lives lost cannot be recovered.
Australia’s gun laws have prevented mass shootings since they were invoked in 1996 after the Port Arthur Massacre where 35 innocent lives were lost. We have had gun deaths, but usually not more than one death in any incident. I fail to understand why the US Congress cannot look to Australia for a fine example of gun management and overturn “The Right to Bear Arms.”
I am troubled by the rise in attempts to have our extremely effective gun laws overturned or even just watered down by political and other interests within our safe Australian community.
Please see the following links….
I am also concerned that gun theft is a major problem, as it is stolen firearms that are most likely to be used in violent crimes.
See also, Facebook post from Mark Dreyfus including responses….
Read more about it at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/23/gun-lobby-makes-no-mention-of-guns-in-victorian-election-ad-blitz
If you agree with my outrage, I implore you to write to your members of Australian parliament, both Federal and State.
President - B’nai B’rith Australia/New Zealand
Senior VP - B’nai B’rith International
On Sunday 21st October, the B'nai B'rith Israel Commission celebrated Israel's 70th Birthday and chose this very special year to honour the memory of a dedicated Zionist, Past President Sonia Kempler.
The Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Sally Capp, was the Guest of Honour and delighted the audience with her charm and wit.
Three Israeli scientists were invited by Mrs Danielle Schilling, Chair of the Israel Commission, to highlight the important role that Israeli technology plays in the world. Dr Yael Naaman from the Royal Women's Hospital (Gynaecology & Oncology departments) shared some technological advancements in medicine. Mr Ron Hoffman, Managing Director at Bio Nexus, discussed the importance of cyber security. Mr Levy Schneider, Managing Director of Netafim Australia, stressed how Israel's knowledge helps solve water problems around the world.
P/P Sonia Kempler's two sons, Leon and Geoffrey, were present at the event and Geoffrey, CEO of Prana Biotechnology, led the panel discussion after retracing the life of his mother.
A lavish brunch followed the discussion.
Shabbat Shalom with Danielle Schilling on B'nai B'rith Gala Brunch Panel celebrating Israel 70th birthday in honour of Sonia Kempler z"l
After eight years in rented office premises in Kooyong Road, B’nai B’rith Victoria’s President Dr Benny Monheit announced to members that B’nai B’rith Victoria is relocating its headquarters to the heart of the community, to become part of Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre in South Caulfield.
This decision has come after a long search for premises and a re-evaluating the needs of members and the aging Melbourne community explained Dr Monheit. “We also looked at the data from the Gen 17 survey and discussed how BBVic could continue to have an impact in the community. We want to be able to continue to service our aging members, while ushering in a new change and forging new connections with the younger generations in our community.”
This move will also introduce a new focus, with B’nai B’rith being open to opportunities to work with and collaborate with other like-minded organisations on activations and projects that continue to bring value to our local and wider community.
We are extremely proud of what our organisation has achieved over the past 70 years, introducing projects and programs such as ‘Hillel’ at various university campuses in the 1970s and later the B’nai B’rith Anti Defamation Commission and the ‘Courage to Care’ program. These initiatives have transformed the lives of not just our community, but also the greater community around us, both locally and internationally.
However, it is now time we look at the future and what new initiatives we can create. These initiatives may reflect ways to encourage more social inclusion or support the health and welfare of our baby boomers age group. We hope that the relocation to Beth Weizmann will open new doors and bring us closer to community minded people who want to help us in our work.
Dr Benny Monheit, President of BBVic said, “It’s a major change in thinking and direction for the organisation.” He hopes it will lead to a more open and responsive organisation to meet the challenges Jewish people are now facing in Melbourne. “We really have too many competing organisations and too many stand alone buildings within our Melbourne Jewish community. It’s time to share our valuable but limited human and financial resources.”
The Chairman of the Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre, Sam Tatarka, added that he “is thrilled to have B’nai B’rith join the BWJCC family and looks forward to working collaboratively in the future, as we continue to expand the hub of the community”
Pictured: YRU President Les Heimann OAM, BBVic President Dr Benny Monheit, Catherine Green, Dr Chris Tailby
The theme of our most recent BBVic Speakers Forum was “changing the brain” and this forum certainly achieved that!
An overflowing crowd jammed in to hear Ms Catherine Green and Dr Chris Tailby explore how we can – and have – achieved wonders in this area; and judging from the information provided, at least in this country, Melbourne leads in the field.
It’s all about neuroplasticity and that is about helping our brain do what it is intended to do but can’t because of learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia). We learnt how the Arrowsmith program run in a primary school in Moorabbin has achieved outcomes unheard of before. We also learnt how brain research proves that pathways in our brain can be changed and how this research is moving into the fields of stroke recovery and epilepsy.
With the help of some very well-done computer imaging, both speakers made it all so easy to understand. There was of course a Q&A session and some excellent questions arose.
The point of all this was to highlight the fact that approximately 10% of the Australian population suffer from learning difficulties (not including those on the Autism spectrum). That’s about 2.5 million people being left behind by our current education system.
How many potential Einsteins are we losing because of this? A very high level of our unemployed and inmates in prison also suffer from this problem. We can change all of this, and this is an important aspect of what BBVic is all about.
Stay tuned: our next Speakers Forum will be on Thursday 13th December at 7:30pm at Beth Weizmann.
Co-President, Yitzhak Rabin Unit