Victorian Association of Jewish Ex & Servicemen & Women Australia Incorporated

Founding Member General Sir John Monash GCMG KCB VD

Patron-in-Chief Biography

Professor Jeffrey Rosenfeld - Patron-in-ChiefMajor General Jeffrey V Rosenfeld AC OBE KStJ (Ret'd)

MB BS (Melb), MD (Monash), MS (Melb)
FRACS, FRCS (Ed), FACS, FRCS (Glasg) ad eundem, FACTM, MRACMA, RAAMC
Professor & Head, Department of Surgery, Central Clinical School, Monash University
Professor & Director, Department of Neurosurgery, Alfred Hospital and Monash University
Chair, Australian Defence Human Research Ethics Committee (ADHREC)

It was with great satisfaction that VAJEX greeted the news that our now Patron-in-Chief, Professor Jeffrey V Rosenfeld AM CStJ, was promoted to the rank of Major General and appointed Surgeon General, Defence Health Services on 15th January 2009. His last promotion to Brigadier was on 9th February 2007.

Professor Rosenfeld graduated in medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1976, completed general surgery training in Melbourne and undertook neurosurgical training. He also trained in Oxford (UK) and at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio (USA). On his return, he was appointed Consultant Neurosurgeon at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Royal Children’s Hospital, and later spent two years on laboratory research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

Professor Rosenfeld specialises in cerebrovascular surgery, brain tumour and skull base surgery, minimal access and neuro-endoscopic surgery.

After countless life-saving operations performed over many years, Professor Rosenfeld has been recognised for his excellent skills and knowledge in his field and has been honoured many times by universities and hospitals in numerous countries.

Commissioned Captain in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps in 1984, he was successively promoted to higher ranks, and deployed no less than seven times on overseas duties with the Australian Defence Force as Surgeon General, Defence Health Reserves. He has served in Rwanda, East Timor, Solomons and Iraq, receiving medals for services rendered. Our Patron has served as Corps Surgeon and District (State) Medical Officer of St John Ambulance and was its Commissioner (Victoria) December 2001 to June 2005; he is a Commander of the Order of St John (CStJ).  It would take many pages to list all of Major General Rosenfeld’s achievements, honours and appointments and published papers.

Our Patron is a man of many talents. He is a great orator and an accomplished musician who is proficient on some 12 instruments.

We wish him great success in his new rank and appointment and extend our good wishes to his family.

Patron Biography

Jack Smorgon - PatronMr Jack Smorgon AO

Jack Smorgon was involved in the Smorgon Group of Companies from 1954 until 1995, mostly in the meat industry where he was Managing Director of the Meat Division from 1976-1991.

A Member of the Board of the Committee for Melbourne (CFM), he was appointed Chairman in 1995 and stepped down after 10 years.  Jack spent 19 years on the Board of the CFM and stepped down, but continues to Chair their Future Focus Group Sub-Committee.

He became interested in transport as Chairman of the CFM Infrastructure Sub Committee in 1992, pushing the Government to start the City Link Project and when the Kennett Government came to power he was appointed Chairman of the State Government’s Freightways Melbourne project.

He was appointed Chairman of the Australian National Railways Commission (AN) in 1995, until 1998, when the Federal Government agreed with the Board to privatise the railway. Jack was appointed by John Howard as chairman of the Federal Government Task Force, “Rivitalising Rail” in 1999.

Jack is President of the United Israel Appeal for Australia (UIA) after being Chairman or President of the Victorian UIA for 12 years and is a  former Chairman of the Montefiore Foundation. He is also Chairman of the Jack & Robert Smorgon Families Foundation and a member of the Board of the family company, Escor.

Jack served as Deputy Chairman of the Bionics Institute of Australia (formerly Bionic Ear Institute) for 15 years and stepped down in November 2011.  He continues in the position of Chairman of their Investment Sub-Committee.

He retired as a board member of the Australia Day Committee (Victoria).

He stepped down as Chairman of the Melbourne Chapter of the World Presidents Organisation (WPO) and retired from the International Board of WPO at the end of 2006 after 10 years.

He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel, where he has been appointed as Chairman of the Partnership and Activism Committee, one of their major committees.  Jack is also a member of the Executive of Keren Hayesod and a former Chairman of the Projects Committee.

He was the Deputy Chairman for 5 years and is now in his third year as National Chairman of the Defence Reserves Support Council.  He was appointed for a further term of 3 years from 1 January 2012.

Jack was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 1998 Australia Day Honours.  In 2006 Jack was elevated to an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

Jack is married to Val - they have four children and nineteen grandchildren.

President Biography

Harry Lubansky

Marvin Bude

On 11 July 1968, I enlisted in the Australian Army 3 Base Worksop (RAEME) as a craftsman and was honourably discharged on 27 February 1973, with the rank of Sergeant. My postings were at Bandiana, Puckapunyal and finally at Chapel Street, St Kilda Barracks.

To members who were rising through the ranks to attain their Non-Commissioned Officer Ranks, I became an instructor teaching Class A drill, Class B Navigation and Field Craft, and Class C Military law.

I am a second-generation Holocaust survivor. Between 1963-1968 I was a member and youth leader of Betar.

An author of five books, two are genealogies of my mother’s family and one an auto biography of my mother’s experiences through the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. Another of the books is a genealogy of my father’s family, and the last a biography of my life. All books are published, and copies are available online. They were sent to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Yad Vashem and Beit Hatfutsot (The Museum of the Jewish People) at the Tel Aviv University in Israel.

When learning of the VAJEX Australia association, I decided to apply for membership. Being willing to assist and contribute to this association’s fine service to Service Members, Non-Service Members and Friends of VAJEX, I was elected as President in 2021.

 

 

Hon Treasurer Biography

Philip Burman - VAJEX Hon TreasurerPhilip Burman

My father was a Corporal with 4th Docks Operating Coy, Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) in New Guinea during World War II. He died on the 11th July 1945 in Wau, New Guinea and was buried in the Lae War Cemetery.

I am an accountant and was a partner in a medium sized accountancy practice for 20 years before starting up my own practice and was the Honorary treasurer of Magen David Adom in Victoria for 25 years.

Both playing and coaching the Senior and Junior Clubs for 35 years, I was a member of AJAX Cricket Club, Northern Maccabi Cricket Club and Maccabi AJAX Cricket Club.

I am very pleased to have been appointed Honorary Treasurer of VAJEX Australia and hope to continue in this
role for many years.

 

Asst Treasurer Biography

Natalie Wills - VAJEX Secretary

Natalie Wills

As a qualified and Registered Bookkeeper and BAS Agent with my own Company for the last 11 years, I do auditing and bookkeeping for my clients.

I am the daughter of an ex-service member of VAJEX Australia and it is my pleasure to assist the Hon Treasurer. 

I am happily married and have two wonderful sons.

 

 

 

 

Secretary Biography

Randi Grose - VAJEX Co-ordinator

Randi Grose

Randi Grose is the daughter of parents who both served during WWII. Her father Harry Grose was a signalman in the Army, while her mother Ruby (née Schoenheimer) served in the Air Force. Both became life members of VAJEX Australia following their arrival in Melbourne from Brisbane, where they had been foundation members of QAJEX.

Randi’s professional life was spent in education, mostly in the Jewish Day School arena, as a teacher, Level Co-ordinator, organiser of musicals and other high-profile events. These days, while technically retired, she maintains active links with schools primarily through her involvement with Courage to Care and the Melbourne Jewish Writers’ Festival. She also assists with Beit Rafael and has been part of the organising team for the JCCV’s annual Yom Hashoah Commemoration for many years.

The notion of honouring her parents’ legacy to Jewish Ex-servicemen and Women, and the high value she sets on commemoration, prompted her to join VAJEX Australia, once the non-service category of membership became available.

 

JCCV Rep Biography

Harry Lubansky  - VAJEX Grants OfficerGarry Fabian

My story spans two continents and a range of different places and life experiences.

I was born in Stuttgart, Germany, a country where my family lived from the beginnig of the 13th Century.

With the advent of the Third Reich in 1933, it became a place that progressively became more hostile and dangerous, and even life threateningly dangerous for those of the Jewish religion, as well as people whose outlook did not conform to the National Socialist concept of the ideal citizen.

In 1936 my family decided to emigrate to the Sudenten Land part of the Czech Republic to start a new life. However, this dream was short lived when the area was annexed to Germany in 1938. On 15th March 1939, we fled to Prague, the capital, which was occupied by Germany.

In November 1942, our family was interned in the Terezienstadt Ghetto, which basically was transit camp for deportations to extermination camps in Eastern Europe. We were among the fortunate minority to remain in the Ghetto until liberation in May 1945. Just as background statistics, some 140,000 passed through the camps from 1941 – 1945, and at the time of liberation, about 15,000 survived. During the four years some 15,000 children under 14 years
old passed through the camp and at the end of the war, 120 had survived. (Long odds indeed).

My parents and I arrived in Australia in September 1947 to start a new life a long way from the shadows of Europe. I attend Thornbury Primary School for several months, with practically no or minimal English, but soon picked it up.

In 1948, I attended Preston Technical School, and moving to East Malvern, attended Caulfield Technical School 1949 – 1950 obtaining a Junior Technical Certificate. In 1950 I took up an Electrical Mechanic apprenticeship with Oliver J Nilsen, and after five years became a qualified A Grade electrician, a trade I pursued for several years. I still hold a valid A License to this day.

In 1956 I was called up for National Service and joined the Royal Australian Navy “to wear the Queen’s Uniform”, spending six months at HMAS Cerberus – otherwise known as Flinders Naval Depot; and also on the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney. Consequently, I also joined NSAA (National Service Association) some 10 years ago to continue the connection.

My late father, who had started a small business in the medical supply field, asked me to join the business as his health had deteriorated. I considered this as short time commitment, however when he suddenly died in 1959, it became a more long-term involvement lasting over the next 20 years.

That year Evelyn and I married (and we recently celebrated our 60th anniversary), our family now consists of two daughters and sons-in-law and five grandchildren.

In 1977 I changed direction, running a small communication equipment firm for two years, and then working for several large companies in the electrical equipment industry. During that period I took up University Studies (off-campus) obtaining a BA at Deakin University followed by an MA at Monash University. I started writing articles which were published in a number of publications, and also worked for several local newspapers. Eventually I took freelance journalism on as a full time basis, an occupation I still follow today, even on a more casual basis.

I joined St Kilda Rotary Club in 1978, but left due to changes of circumstances. In the early 1990s, I joined Caulfield Rotary, and about 15 years ago moved to Glen Eira Rotary Club. During this period I served as President of both of these Clubs.

For more than six decades, I have been involved with a range of community organisations including primary and secondary school councils, was on the City of Caulfield 1988 Bicentenary Committee, held many senior positions in B’nai B’rith, and have served as a Volunteer at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance since 2015, involved with Glen Eira University of the Third Age for over a decade, two years as President and a range of other organisations both short and long range.

I served on the Committee of the MEAA (Australian Journalists Association) and two years on the Board of the National Trust (Victoria).

Over the last 30 years I have travelled on many occasions to Germany speaking to schools and other groups about my experiences as a Holocaust survivor and also here in Australia as part of the Courage to Care program. I have written a book on the subject “A Look Back Over My Shoulder” the first edition appeared in 2004, and an updated second edition in 2014, both of which were published in Australia and in a translated version in Germany.

Recently I took up a new interest - as an extra in films, having connected with an agency and to date had several stints in this new pursuit in productions "The Preacher", "Bloom" and "Five Bedrooms". It is a lot of fun and you actually get paid.

I have lived a fortunate life being a part of a small group of Holocaust survivors who were granted a new chance at life denied to six million victims.

Board Member Biography

Dr Manny Kingsley  - VAJEX Baord MemberManny Kingsley

Manny is the son and son-in-law of Holocaust survivors. He is the stepson of Henry Kingsley, a “Dunera Boy”, whose pre-war family was murdered by Nazis and others who joined and served in the Australian Army.

Manny, a former History Politics teacher and University Lecturer, has a PhD in History and Education from the University of Melbourne. He joined VAJEX Australia to support past and present Australian Jewish Servicemen and Women.

 

 

 

Welfare Officer/Past President/Life Member Biography

ben hirshBen Hirsh

Ben Hirsh is a past President of VAJEX Australia was a Board member for over 20 years, serving as Secretary and Vice President.

Ben has assisted in locating graves and memorials of long-forgotten Jewish soldiers who died on active service in Australia, ensuring their commemoration both on our Wall of Remembrance and Memorial, and in the VAJEX Australia Books of Remembrance. In addition, he has assisted the Jewish Holocaust Centre by providing historical data and identifying medals.

He is a military historian and consultant on Orders, Decorations and Medals, and has held office in the Military Historical Society of Australia. Ben has also worked as a    provider of historically accurate uniform pieces and given his expertise to television   series such as The Sullivans, My Brother Tom and Fields of Fire. He also provided   military information for the full length film Death of a Soldier which told the story of US Army Private Eddie Leonski.

Ben enjoys public speaking and has often spoken to groups including students at Jewish Day Schools, to members of B’nei Brith, Rotary, Jewish senior citizen groups and Masonic lodges. Some of his favourite topics include, the life of General Sir John Monash, The Zion Mule Corps, Decorated Australian Jewish heroes and the Australian Honours system.  He served as a volunteer in the Royal Australian Artillery (Citizen Military Forces).

Ben is married to Hanna, who supports him in all of his endeavours. They are proud to have two daughters and a son, as well as two grandchildren.

 

Webmaster/Past President/Life Member Biography

Dr Judy Landau - President, Webmaster & Editor Parade Magazine

Judy Landau

Judy Landau is a Past President who also served as Editor of PARADE magazine and InFormation newsletter and set up this website in 2009. She was Webmaster and Research Historian until 2018 and stepped in as the Secretary, Treasurer, PTE Greg Sher Shield awards manager and Grants Officer when there were no portfolio holders available.

Judy was a driving force in the revitalisation of VAJEX Australia and actively participated in its promotion and growth.

The new WWI and WWII Memorial in Ripponlea was entirely her project from seeking approval and fundraising all the way to the construction. She did all the research of the names and published a book of her findings "Victorian Fallen Researched For VAJEX Australia" with all the evidence of why the rulings on the names were made by the Rabbi. 

In 2009 when her portfolio was expanded to include the artwork for printed documents and certificates, she began by recreating the pages of our fallen for the Books of Remembrance. Sadly, this was inspired by the tragic death of our member, the late PTE Greg Sher KIA Afghanistan. Judy wanted to further honour his memory by adding red poppies to his page, so for the first time, all the 2009 pages were redesigned and printed in colour. She continued producing all the Books of Remembrance pages up to 2018.

Part of Judy’s focus was on how VAJEX Australia was presented. All certificates, documents, the Memorial Stakes, Service Programs, Bentchers etc, were newly created or improved and given a professional appearance with her skilful computer work. She made our new display wreath, redesigned the Association badge, designed our Association Flag and Banner, and brightened up our Memorial Candles display.

Before becoming President, Judy served for four years from 2003 as our Vice President and was MC for all of our services and functions. Her compassionate confidence at the microphone gave a reverent depth to our Services that has been acknowledged and appreciated by both members and guests alike.

Judy served in 3 WRAAC COY and 3 DIV INT. She is a member of the WRAAC Association, the Australian Intelligence Corps Association and the Australian Intelligence Association.

 

MC/Events Co-ordinator/Life Member Biography

Julie Leder - Vice President VAJEXJulie Leder

I have been a Musician, a Senior Constable in the Victoria Police and until a few years ago, a Sergeant in the Australian Army Reserve.

Joining the Army in 1977 means I was a member for 33 years. At that time there were no women permitted in the Band Corp (the first woman couldn’t join full time until 1982) but I had an enlightened Bandmaster who needed an extra musician, so I was told to join another Corp “on paper” but be “temporarily “ posted to the Band.

I did my 2 week annual training with the Regular Army Band in Melbourne and was used as a test case to see if the male soldiers could cope with having a woman in the Band! I was asked to do a promotion course at the new School of Music at Watsonia in 1982 where they had women’s facilities-but still no women! By this time I had completed my 4 year music teacher’s degree in civilian life and was very comfortable conducting a large ensemble.

In 1987 I had had enough of teaching and joined the Victoria Police Band. I had been a member for 26 years. Being in the Army and the Police at the same time meant that I could get experience in one and bring it to the other. I did a lot of singing in the Victoria Police Band-rock, pop, swing and jazz. I was invited to perform with many Army Bands up and down the east coast of Australia. I would have to take “leave” from the Police Band to do this.

In 2000 I was deployed with the Brisbane Army Reserve Band to Bougainville, then to East Timor with the Townsville Regular Army Band and later again to Bougainville with the Brisbane Regular Army Band. We performed for the soldiers and the local villagers in challenging conditions!

I left the Army in 2010 and still performed full time with the Police Band on Baritone Saxophone, clarinet and as a singer until the Vic Police Department decided in 2014 that they didn't need a band anymore and made us all redundant! I am now happily retired.

Grants Officer Biography

Harry Lubansky  - VAJEX Grants OfficerHarry Lubansky

Harold “Harry” Lubansky joined VAJEX Australia over 20 years ago as a service member, because of his family’s service heritage and recognition of the association’s goals of honouring and assisting the welfare of our serving and ex-service men and women. After 12 months on the Board as Grant’s Officer he became President and served in this role for four years he is now Immediate Past President and again serves as Grants Officer.

His forebears migrated to Israel (Palestine) in the 1800s, his grandfather was an adjutant to a Lieutenant and his grandmother a nurse in the British Army in WWI. The family migrated to Australia in the 1920s.

Harry was named in honour of his uncle Harry who was in the 39th Battalion in New Guinea. His uncle made the supreme sacrifice on the first day of battle, being allotted the task of delaying the Japanese Army while the rest of the 39th withdrew to the safety of higher ground. To honour him, in 2010 Harry walked the Kokoda Track and said Kaddish in the vicinity of his uncle’s death.

His father served in the RAAF in WWII, most notably, being skilled in radio and signals, he served on secondment with a US Special forces Intelligence Unit often acting behind enemy lines in New Guinea. On the last day of battle, before ceasefire was implemented, his father returning from patrol with his RAAF unit volunteered for an extra mission with an undermanned army unit. While away, the Japanese broke through the perimeter and killed everyone in the camp. But for that selfless act, neither he nor Harry would be with us.

Harry served in the RAAF Reserve from 1971 to 1973 in the Victorian University Squadron attaining the rank of Pilot Officer. Before that at Mt Scopus he was in the Cadet Corps.

Life Member-Ian Mansfield Biography

Ian Mansfield - VAJEX Hon TreasurerIan Mansfield

Ian joined VAJEX in 2003 and was Secretary from 2003-2013 and has served as Treasurer since August 2009.

After leaving Melbourne High School, he joined the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) on 27th July 1981 as a Seaman SN (Stores). Ian completed Recruit Training at HMAS Cerberus on the 18th January 1982 and was posted to HMAS Platypus (NSW).

Over the next 20½ years in the Navy he had postings to the following places or ships:

HMAS Stuart (DE)
HMAS Waterhen (NSW)
HMAS Cerberus
HMAS Brisbane (DDG)
HMAS Coonawarra (NT)
HMAS Perth2 (DDG)
HMAS Kuttabul (NSW)
HMAS Warramunga (ANZAC Class)

Promotions: SMNSN 17th October 1981
ABSN 14th January 1981
LSSN 30th June 1988

For the duration of Ian’s career many courses were completed including one for promotion to Petty Officer (awaiting vacancy for Promotion).

Whilst posted to HMAS Brisbane deployment also included the Gulf War 1990-91.

The following awards and decorations have been received:
AASM/KUW Australian Active Service Medal with Clasp - Kuwait
LKM Liberation of Kuwait
ASM KUW Australian Service Medal with Clasp - Kuwait
MUC Meritorious Unit Citation
DFSM Defence Force Service Medal (15 years service)
Australian Service Medal

Ian’s hobbies include photography, family genealogy, reading and bike riding just for fun and to keep fit. He joined Freemasonry in 1990 and is still an active member.

Life Member-Ruby Grose Biography

Ian Mansfield - VAJEX Hon TreasurerRuby Grose

Ruby served as Secretary on the Board for many years and her husband, Harry Grose obm, was president from 1973-1975. More recently, she assisted with the sorting of documents when VAJEX Australia was relocating to their new HQ.

Ruby is a long-standing assistant with the Book of Remembrance Cememony every November, and has been an active member of the association for decades.

She is an ex-service member having enlisted in the RAAF in November 1942 and served in 3 Embarkation Depot.

 

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