More than 700 people filled Le Montage’s ballroom on October 29 for Jewish House’s 40th anniversary gala dinner, featuring messages from the Prime Minister and NSW Premier and live music by Ilan Kidron and the Glassbreakers.
In a powerful address, the Jewish charity’s co-founder and president, Roger Clifford, revealed how the tragic events in Israel presented the board with a difficult decision about its annual fundraising event.
“After much reflection, we resolved to proceed,” Clifford said.
“Jewish House is all about bringing people together, just as we did 40 years ago, when my brother Anthony and I, with support from our parents, set out the goal of helping people in crisis.
“We are grieving deeply, but nothing will deter us from our mission to help people.”
Clifford thanked all who have contributed to Jewish House and especially acknowledged its inaugural CEO Rabbi Pinchas Woolstone and its CEO for the last 15 years, Rabbi Mendel Kastel.
“The current crisis in Israel also highlights the importance of people who stand with us in our hardest times, from local, state and federal politicians, to policemen and women, our own [Jewish] Community Security Group and communal leaders.
“We thank them … we thank you all for being here tonight and we’re immensely grateful for your support.”
In a provided message recited by emcee, Vaucluse MP Kellie Sloane, PM Anthony Albanese highlighted how “Jewish House has been in the frontline of homelessness for four decades … to break the cycle of instability and rebuild lives – thank you for all that you do.”
In his message, Minns said Jewish House is “a source of compassion and practical aid to many thousands of people”.
“On any one night, more than 100 vulnerable people find comfort in one or more of its services.”
Keynote speaker Daniel Nour, the founder of Streetside Medics, said, “There are countless times when I’ve called Rabbi Kastel [about] someone who is homeless and he’d say, ‘say no more, we can help.’”
“What Jewish House does is give people hope,” Nour said.
Rabbi Kastel said Jewish House’s achievements in 2023 include delivering Australia’s first chaplaincy portal for Jewish hospital patients; opening a sensory room at JH Kids; starting a homelessness mapping project; receiving 2478 crisis line calls in partnership with JewishCare; employing another mental health nurse; and launching Jewish House My Bond Support.
He added, since October 7, Jewish House has been assisting newly arrived Israeli families with basic essentials and it has partnered with 10 Sydney shules to open drop-in support hubs.
Thanking all donors, partners, volunteers and government departments for their support, Kastel made special mention of volunteer-run Fashion Forward, which raised $170,000 for Jewish House in the last financial year.
The winner of the 2023 Dennis Clifford Humanitarian Award was also announced at the event – philanthropist and industrial relations scholar Ron Callus, who passed away in August.