Emmy Monash

Centenarians celebrate their milestones

There are lessons to be learned and stories to be celebrated from their lives.

Emmy Monash centenarians. From left: Lotti Eisinger-Philipp, Terry Ungar, Goola Lewis, Zac Davidson.
Emmy Monash centenarians. From left: Lotti Eisinger-Philipp, Terry Ungar, Goola Lewis, Zac Davidson.

Alex Heimler, Esther Procel, Goola Lewis and Joan Klein all turned 100 this year while Lily Chester and Terese (Terry) Ungar turned 101 and Lotti Eisinger-Philipp and Zacharia (Zac) Davidson are both 103 years of age.

Emmy Monash CEO Tanya Abramzon said, “To provide exceptional care for seniors in the Jewish community is not just an honour but a privilege. Having eight of our residents over the age of 100 is a true milestone and a credit to their resilience, optimism and vitality.”

There are lessons to be learned and stories to be celebrated from their lives.

Alex Heimler was born on May 16, 1924, in Beled Hungary and is a Holocaust survivor.

He has a daughter Judy, no biological grandchildren but dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren through a strong family network. Alex was an excellent water-skier well into his 70s and is an active member of the worldwide Heimler network.

Goola Lewis was born on January 5, 1924. Her parents were both born in Tzfat, Israel, which coloured her commitment to raising a family in a traditional Orthodox environment.

She has two children, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She was committed to sending her boys to Mount Scopus Memorial College even though it was a financial challenge for the family. But such was her fierce desire to instil Jewish life and learning to her children, she achieved it.

Goola is a fiercely independent and a strong woman who has always been unafraid to call a spade a spade.

Lily Chester was born March 24, 1923 in Ballarat.

Her mother passed away suddenly when she was 13 years old, and her father remarried and her relationship with her stepmother was difficult.

She moved to Melbourne and married her husband Harry in 1945. They had two children Mike and Evelynne and have five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

She speaks English, Yiddish, German and French.

Terry Ungar was born on December 2, 1923, in Vienna and finished school at the age of 14.

Terry migrated to Australia where she owned a button and fabric shop in Glen Huntly Road.

She speaks English, German, French and dabbles in Italian and her proudest life achievement is that she is self-educated, and a lifelong learner.

Whenever there was an invitation she was never too lazy to do things for other people, like costume making for the kids at school.

Zac Davidson was born on November 3, 1920, in Poland

He is a Holocaust survivor who spent the war years in Shanghai after trekking across Europe and Russia. He has three children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

He is an expert on all things French and reads fluently in French and Italian, which he taught himself. He speaks Yiddish, English and German and can read Greek. He now only reads in French and Italian.

Zac managed to get himself into medicine when he arrived in Australia and practised as a GP for over 20 years. His three daughters followed him into medicine.

Lotti Eisinger-Philipp was born on February 4, 1921, in Hindenburg Germany. She has two daughters, five grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

Together with her brother and parents she fled Germany soon after Kristallnacht. Upon arrival in Australia on her 18th birthday, Lotti became the family breadwinner.

She worked tirelessly for most of her life as a dressmaker and at the same time supported two young daughters following the sudden death of her husband Eric.

Lotti reflects, “I jumped hurdles, fell, got up and kept running. I had to, there was no chance of giving up. I have always found inner strength to be myself and to follow my own path.”

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