Both young and old with different people from different eras. The common thread was their call to duty. Some fell in the prime of life while serving their Country, others passed away long after their service finished. If there is a service person you would like included in this section, submit your piece with a photo to the webmaster.
On the 11th January 2009, over 2,000 mourners filled the Chevra Kadisha Cemetery at Lyndhurst to pay their last respects to Pte Greg Sher, who was fatally wounded seven days earlier in Afghanistan. Among the mourners to share their grief of the nation was the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Kevin Rudd MP, the Deputy Prime Minister the Hon Julia Gillard MP, the Minister for Defence, State Government ministers, the CO of the 1st Commando Regt, members of the Commando Association, Generals and other Officers – and a representation of Jewish Community leaders . The funeral service was conducted by Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn of St Kilda Hebrew Congregation and the Minyan that night filled the St Kilda Synagogue. Tributes in the media lasted for a long time.
Greg Sher was the youngest member of VAJEX Australia who joined us in January 2007. He was born on 3rd December 1978 in South Africa, the second son of Felix and Yvonne Sher. The family came to Australia in 1986 and Greg went to school here. At a young age, he joined the Australian Army. He was also involved with the Jewish Community Security Group. As a member of the Commandoes, Greg was aware of the training that everyone in the Special Forces is required to undertake and he pushed himself hard to achieve the standard required of him. He was on deployment in East Timor and then to Afghanistan where on that fateful day, the 4th January 2009, he was killed in Oruzgan Province. Greg, aged 30, was the eighth Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan – he was the first Australian Jewish soldier to lose his life in a war zone, since July 1945.
It was a privilege and an honour to have met Greg. He participated in our Remembrance Day Service on 11th November 2007 in honouring us by reciting Psalm 23.
We offer our sincere condolences to Felix and Yvonne, brothers Steven and Barry; and partner Karen.
MAY HIS DEAR SOUL REST IN PEACE.
A philosopher once said:
Poor is a nation that has no heroes.
Shamed is a nation that has heroes but does not honour them.
We are a nation which has heroes and we honour them!
Greg Sher was one of those heroes.
LEST WE FORGET
GUNNER DOV RYZMAN AIF VX123381 (V158326)
Passed away 25th December 2008
Dov Ryzman grew up in Melbourne and was always actively involved in sport and community. He was a good honest family man who could always be relied on to lend a helping hand.
A warm-hearted man of great intellect with a gentle nature, Dov employed his sense of humour and literary talents throughout his life, writing on a wide range of subjects. These included Health, Politics, Archaeology, Philosophy, Mysticism, Quantum Physics and Religion.
He was ready to do his duty proudly for family, community and country. A keen sportsman from his early youth, he studied Commerce at Melbourne University. Joining the Melbourne University Rifles, he then, as a teenager, became a member of the 16th Australian Field Artillery Regiment attached to the 1st Australian Armoured Division.
His contribution is documented in the official historical publication, Gunners of the Sixteenth in which his group from the Melbourne University is regarded as the most interesting and versatile.
Dov’s sense of humour helped him through his army years. The diligence with which he applied himself is evidenced by his voluntary undertaking in his own time of the gruelling combat assault course which the rest of the unit only performed when compulsory.
He entered his father’s well known men’s and boys wear manufacturing and wholesale clothing business, Ryzman & Co Pty Ltd, which he conducted successfully for many years, enhancing his reputation for fairness and reliability.
With a great thirst for knowledge, he was an avid reader and writer with published work such as Cardio Conversations, a layman’s guide to heart research, which benefitted many.
An active Freemason, he enjoyed his role as Editor for many years of Fraternally Speaking Newsletter of Lodge Fraternal No 603. He also wrote on Freemasonry, delivering talks eg on Noah’s Ark, Archaeology & Arkeology. His reported interviews included Rabbi Chaim Gutnick, Rabbi Michael Newman, Rabbi Ronald Lubofsky, Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls, Coroner Mr H W Pascoe and The Hon Mr Justice Gillard.
Dov’s altruistic nature prompted his involvement in numerous good causes. He also wrote many articles and letters in defence of Israel and the Jewish community.
An ardent admirer of Sir John Monash, even a few days before his passing, he sought out his book on Sir John in his valued home library. Dov’s own life epitomised Monash’s words, “seek knowledge in all directions for its own sake.”
A gifted poet, he wrote a series of books, skilfully putting into verse literature he found inspiring. With modesty he writes, “In my own verse I see the main value of it as being a form which facilitates conciseness.”
He penned these verses to hopefully widely convey positive messages. One such verse book is based on Rabbi Roland B Gittelsohn’s Man’s Best Hope.
More than 1,500 Jewish marines fought at Iwo Jima from 19th February 1945. Rabbi Roland, Jewish chaplain for the American Marine Corps was originally asked to deliver the memorial service for the whole battalion. Some chaplains objected. However, the Protestant Ministers boycotted their own service to support Gittelsohn. This triggered off a reproduction of his magnificent sermon, which was broadcast and recorded in the Congressional Record.
In one stanza of Dov’s verse based on Rabbi Gittelsohn’s book,
“There are miracles of spirit too
I remember a Jewish boy at Iwo Jima in strife
Horribly frightened before the first wave of attack
In that action he later saved another’s life.”
Here is an excerpt of Dov’s verse version of ideas contained in Gittelsohn’s Man‘s Best Hope:
Valley of Shadows
Questions still remain to be answered
Which religion must try to solve
Like “Why did G-d let this happen to me
Despite life lived with good resolve?”
If it is part of religion
To give man meaning in his life
What can we say in the many cases
Which clearly evince much unearned strife.
To stand at the grave of a tender child
Or of fine young friends in combat killed
Who can glibly explain the anguish
What skilful spun logic can assuage what’s been willed.
Yet when the heart breaks we have to try
No less than when it sings
We cannot abdicate G-d-given reason
In trying to answer such things.
There can be no valid answer
Not based on correct assumption
That life with or without religion can see growth without pain
Is not a correct presumption.
Often but now always pain is a mystery
With understanding left unsatisfied
It’s not so much the pain we find intolerable
But pain with no meaning applied
We have known unbelievable heroism
With deep suffering in many a tale
Triumphantly endured by ordinary men
Who saw reason and purpose in their travail
Our ultimate need is to understand
No matter how piercing the pain or intense
Does it amount to whistling in the dark
Or part of greater unknown plan profound immense
Dov will be sadly missed and remembered as a wonderful husband, father and friend. He is survived by his wife, Netty and children Deborah, Leonard, Marlene and Selwyn in whom he fostered a yearning of knowledge.
By Dr Marlene Ryzman (Daughter)
VAJEX member Gwidon Gottlieb-Borucki passed away on 31th December 2009 and, but for the many articles and tributes posted on the web (in the Polish language), his lifetime achievements would never have been known to most of us. The last occasion that I spoke to Gwidon was at our Remembrance Day Luncheon on the 22nd November 2009. He was a regular Luncheon attendee and still sprightly at 97. He promised to see us again in 2010. Sadly, this promise can't now be kept.
Born Gwidon Alfred Gottlieb in the Polish city of Krakow, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he showed a talent for the piano and accordion. He received an education, sang and acted on the stage participating in numerous performances.
When World War II broke out, he soon found himself in the army of General Wladislaw Anders. In May 1944 his unit, part of the Polish 2nd Corps, took part in the battle for Monte Casino in Italy and was instrumental in the capture of the Monastery and defeat of the German forces there.
The song made famous after the battle of Monte Casino is called "The Red Poppies of Monte Casino."
Between 1945 and 1958, Gwidon lived in London and acted in films and on the stage, singing solo in numerous performances as Guido Lorraine.
Some of the films he acted in were: The Red Beret, State Secret, Port Afrique, The Colditz Story, Hotel Sahara and many others. He also made appearances on radio.
Settling in Australia in 1959 with his wife Eva, Gwidon appeared on the National HSV7 TV production of Sunny Side Up as Guido Lorraine. He became involved in Polish community activities in Melbourne and joined VAJEX in 1978.
Over 100 people attended his funeral service on the 6th January 2010. It included many notables from the community and I was invited to recite the Military Ritual and the Ode. As a fitting farewell, the mourners sang "The Red Poppies of Monte Casino."
VAJEX offers sincere condolences to Eva and family.
LEST WE FORGET