An innovative Yom Hashoah ceremony was held in Wollongong last month, attracting about 40 members of the local community.
Organised by Professor Greg Rose, lay chaplain for Jewish students at the University of Wollongong, it was co-hosted by the Australasian Union of Jewish Students(AUJS).
AUJS student Mima Schwartz opened proceedings with a moving tribute to her Hungarian family, a number of whom perished at Auschwitz.
This was followed by an address from Wollongong mayor Gordon Bradbery, who recounted the recent saga in which Lithuanian art collector Bob Sredersas – who immigrated to Australia in 1950 and subsequently donated about 100 artworks to the Wollongong Art Gallery – was exposed as a Nazi collaborator and intelligence officer during Nazi Germany’s occupation of Lithuania. His wartime past came to light after an investigation prompted by former Wollongong councillor Michael Samaras, and then confirmed by Sydney Jewish Museum historian Professor Konrad Kwiet.
Bradbery invited the organisers of the Holocaust commemoration to hold future events in the Wollongong Art Gallery.
Then followed the centrepiece of the commemoration, the reading of Torn Apart By War – a play written by former NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff about his father’s remarkable Holocaust story.
Born on Rhodes Island, Alhadeff’s father Salvatore relocated to Zimbabwe in 1938 after Mussolini enacted the Nuremberg Laws, excluding Jews from civil society. Engaged to be married, Salvatore was unable to bring his parents or fiancee to Zimbabwe, and they were among the Jews of Rhodes who were deported to Auschwitz.
His parents were murdered in the death camp, as were 151 members of the family. He was also told that his fiancee had also perished, but decades later he discovered that she had in fact survived. The play was read by Abraham Rose, Kenzie Dvy, Mathew Todres, Will Berry and Aviva Sheba.
Addressing the gathering after the reading, Alhadeff said he was motivated to write the play as a means of generating awareness of the Holocaust in Greece, as well as a personal homage to his father.
- Yom Hashoah
- Community Heartbeat
- Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS)
- Jewish Students
- Gordon Bradbery
- Bob Sredersas
- Wollongong Art Gallery
- Michael Samaras
- Sydney Jewish Museum (SJM)
- Konrad Kwiet
- NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD)
- Vic Alhadeff
- New South Wales