Sydney social group’s moving campaign
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RESCUING UKRAINIAN JEWISH ORPHANS

Sydney social group’s moving campaign

"Our initial target of $500 was instantly smashed thanks to the very generous support of Alte Zagen members and bolstered with a personal walking challenge by Gary Meyers."

Members of the Alte Zagen social group, including (from left) Brian Fine, Gary Meyers, Mike Fisher.
Members of the Alte Zagen social group, including (from left) Brian Fine, Gary Meyers, Mike Fisher.

IT’S with good reason Brian Fine and Michael Fisher were moved to raise funds to rescue Jewish orphans in Ukraine.

Fine and Fisher, together with Gary Meyers, are members of a social group in Sydney called Alte Zagen, established about 10 years ago by six like-minded men, but since then has grown to include around 90 members.

The fathers of both Fine and Fisher were Ochberg Orphans rescued from Ukraine 100 years ago, and this was the inspiration behind their current fundraising campaign.

In 1921 Isaac Ochberg, a Ukrainian-born South African businessman, single-handedly rescued 187 Jewish orphans from war-torn Europe and took them safely to South Africa.

As part of their current fundraising campaign, Meyers set himself the challenge of completing a 70km walk from Macquarie Lighthouse in Watson’s Bay to Sea Cliff Bridge in Stanwell Park, and was thrilled to raise $20,000 for United Israel Appeal.

An estimated 200,000 children in Ukraine’s orphanages are at risk. The first refugees welcomed into Israel were 100 children from an orphanage in Zhytomyr, Ukraine. Keren Hayesod-UIA is working to rescue thousands more and bring them to safety in Israel.

“Our initial target of $500 was instantly smashed thanks to the very generous support of Alte Zagen members and bolstered with a personal walking challenge by Gary Meyers,” said Fine.

UIA CEO Yair Miller praised the efforts of Meyers, Fine and Fisher and the rest of the Alte Zagen group.

“We are so grateful to Gary, Brian and Michael for their efforts which have enabled an amazing amount of money to be raised for some of the most vulnerable Jewish refugees from the unfolding war in the Ukraine,” he said.

“Thanks to Gary’s effort in completing the walk and all those who have donated, we will be able to assist these orphans in such tangible ways. As the primary organisation charged with the rescue and integration of Jews in distress, UIA Australia is so privileged to have been the recipient on behalf of our beneficiaries of this incredible generosity of time, effort and resources.”

The Alte Zagen (which means “old things” in Yiddish) consists of men mainly aged 60 and over, who are retired or semi-retired. They meet for lunch once a month to promote community engagement and fellowship. Members are also encouraged to contribute to the tzedakah box at every meeting to raise money for many local and Jewish causes.

During the pandemic when virtual meetings occurred, about 150 attendees would join from Sydney, interstate and overseas.

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