EXPRESSING the special place Montefiore has in his heart, longstanding board member Barry Joseph, who was recently named the 2020 Woollahra Citizen of the Year for his outstanding volunteer contribution to the local community, described the residents at Montefiore as “all my mothers and fathers”.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to visit some of these elderly people, to talk to them and make them smile,” said Joseph.
Montefiore has always formed a big part of his life, with Joseph’s mother having served as a board member, and as president of the Ladies’ Committee on seven occasions.
“Every night the discussions around the family table were about the Montefiore Home,” remembered Joseph.
“The Montefiore always had a fabulous fete and the back room of our house in Dover Heights was the fete collection room.”
In addition to helping those nearing the end of their lives, Joseph assists the younger generation just beginning theirs.
He became the federal executive director of the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University in 2000, and what was initially intended to be a three-month stint turned into 15 years.
“I stayed on because it became meaningful,” said Joseph, who has also been a member of the Rose Bay Rotary Club for nearly 30 years. “I was a clothing manufacturer so that was my world – but working for the Hebrew University was an education of its own.”
On his yearly visits to the Hebrew University, Joseph would sit in the campus coffee shop and watch young students walk past with a “spring in their step”.
“There’s this determination in their faces. It is inspiring … I used to sit there and think, ‘Whatever work we are doing in raising money for the uni, these kids are benefiting from that and getting a chance in life.’”
Since stepping down from the position four years ago, Joseph has sat on the NSW Friends of Hebrew University committee and recently became president of the NSW division.
Other members of the community to take home Woollahra Citizenship Awards include co-founder of Our Big Kitchen, Laya Slavin.
Receiving the Contribution to the Community Award, Slavin along with her husband and co-founder, Rabbi Dr Dovid Slavin and dedicated volunteers, cook, package and deliver meals to those in need.
She has also opened a wig lending library supporting individuals undergoing cancer treatment.
Volunteer for the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (NSW)’s Mum for Mum program Merle Ware was Highly Commended in the Contribution to the Community category.
Ware helps vulnerable mothers in the community through weekly visits, and assists paid professional staff with intakes of new mothers requiring support.