Tributes to an inspirational mensch
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Tributes to an inspirational mensch

Tributes have poured in from state and federal MPs and communal leaders following the passing of Eddie Jaku at the age of 101 this week.

Flore and Eddie Jaku in 2014. Photo: Giselle Haber
Flore and Eddie Jaku in 2014. Photo: Giselle Haber

“Eddie’s unadulterated joy for life made him a teacher in the truest sense of the word. Surviving the Holocaust, he committed himself to ensuring we all learnt the lessons from that darkest episode in human history – from how to treat one another to how to be our truest selves.”

Dave Sharma
Member for Wentworth

“He taught the world about the importance of kindness, happiness, friendship and love in his book The Happiest Man on Earth. I’ve got to know the Jaku family over many years in particular Eddie’s son Michael and his grandson Marc. Eddie was an inspiration to people for his ability to bear witness to the evils of hatred, the evils of antisemitism and the evils of what Churchill called the ‘perverted science’, and yet to live in defiance and to love deeply.”

Julian Leeser
Member for Berowra

“We have lost a national treasure, one of Australia’s most well-known and beloved Shoah survivors, and a truly remarkable individual. Despite the hate shown to him in his early life and the darkness of the death camps, his legacy is that his strength of character was never extinguished. He made a vow to smile every day. May Eddie Jaku’s memory be a blessing.”

Walt Secord
NSW Labor frontbencher

“I can’t believe our wonderful Eddie Jaku has passed away aged 101. He was my first tour guide at the Sydney Jewish Museum and I remember that visit so vividly because of him. Eddie was always warm and had a sparkle in his eye that drew people to him. He will be profoundly missed as someone who found joy in everything that life offers up.”

Gabrielle Upton
Member for Vaucluse

“Eddie’s contribution to Australia and his message to always choose happiness and hope, even in the face of the greatest evil, is a legacy that will long continue. May his memory be a blessing.”

Embassy of Israel in Canberra

“We are saddened by the passing of Eddie Jaku OAM – a huge loss to us here at Montefiore, to our Sydney Jewish community and to countless people around the world. Although Eddie’s two years with us at Montefiore Randwick were marked by the challenges of the pandemic, his remarkable presence and warmth was felt by fellow residents and staff alike, and we were privileged to celebrate milestones together.”

David Freeman
Montefiore president

“Eddie was a light to us all, and he will be deeply missed by not only the local Jewish community, but all those who were fortunate enough to have known him. He played an integral role in Holocaust education and remembrance while still spreading messages of joy and gratitude, and was in every sense of the word a true mensch.”

Ian Sandler and Alain Hasson
JCA president and CEO

“The world and our community are poorer for the loss of this remarkable man. Eddie leaves a legacy that will live on through the tens of thousands of people he influenced and educated over so many decades. Many survivors managed to rebuild their lives and make a meaningful contribution but few were able to do so in the positive and energetic way in which Eddie did. Always smiling and always willing to engage Eddie was first and foremost a mensch.”

Yair Miller
UIA CEO

Eddie Jaku at Mandelbaum House. Photo: Darren Saul

“The Mandelbaum community is deeply saddened to learn of the death of our dear friend Eddie. Eddie has inspired, educated and laughed with Mandelbaum residents for over 15 years during his annual formal dinner visits. In 2018 we created the Eddie Jaku OAM Mensch Prize and through this we will continue to share his courageous story, wisdom, and shine his light for generations to come.”

Shana Kerlander
Mandelbaum House CEO

“Eddie was a much-loved Moriah family member, and passionate about Jewish education. We were fortunate to have Eddie share his story of hope and resilience on many occasions at the college, inspiring staff members, families, and generations of students. To hear Eddie speak was transformational. Eddie’s passing is truly the end of an era, yet he leaves a legacy that will educate and inspire generations to come. Our sincere condolences to the entire Jaku family.”

Moriah College

“Eddie was a huge personality and great friend of Masada College over 25 years. Eddie was ageless, ever elegant and always generous with his time and spirit. Eddie spoke of reconciliation, positivity and an absence of hatred for the perpetrators. He taught our students the value of living a meaningful life, walking beside one’s friends, always encouraging them, giving a hand up and a warm smile.”

Masada College

“It is with great sadness that we learn about the passing of Eddie Jaku. A man of insurmountable resilience and kindness and a true inspiration to people all over the globe. We send sincere condolences to his loved ones and may his memory be a blessing.”

The Joint Australia

“Eddie had the most infectious spirit, a smile that could never be wiped away and a desire to always help others. He leaves an indelible mark on our community and will be so dearly missed. We are truly heartbroken beyond words. Eddie once said a few years ago, ‘You should take time to be happy and enjoy life. For me, when I wake up, I am happy because it is another day to enjoy.’ May Eddie’s memory always be blessed and serve as an inspiration to all of us.”

Zionist Council of NSW

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