Victorian Association of Jewish Ex & Servicemen & Women Australia Incorporated

Founding Member General Sir John Monash GCMG KCB VD

Full Members' Tributes

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.

Private Gregory Michael Sher Z"L Full Tribute

Private Gregory Michael SherPrivate Gregory Michael Sher Z"L


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.


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.


Dov Ryzman Full Tribute

Dov Ryzman Dov Ryzman – A True Gentleman


VAJEX Member
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

line gold

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)

Asaf Ramon Z"L Full Tribute

Asaf Ramon

Captain Asaf Ramon Z"L

Asaf Ramon, the son of the late Colonel Ilan Ramon Z″L, who lost his life in the illfated US Space Shuttle COLUMBIA on 1st February 2003, was killed on a training flight on Sunday 13th September 2009, while piloting an F16 fighter aircraft. He was aged 20.  Asaf received his wings in June of this year with the rank of Lieutenant in the Israel Air Force.

 Asaf was 15 years old when his father died, and he subsequently decided to become a pilot, excelling in his course. What was to have been a routine training flight resulted in a tragedy for his family and for all of Israel. Asaf was buried next to his father in the cemetery at Nahalal, on Monday 14th September.

Asaf Ramon was posthumously promoted to Captain.


Ilan Ramon Grave
Photo: Judy Landau. Note the koala and poppy brought from Australia.

Gwidon Gottlieb-Borucki Full Tribute

Gwidon Gottlieb-BoruckiGwidon Gottlieb-Borucki
1912 ~ 2009

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.


Ben Hirsh

Frank Slutzkin Full Tribute

Frank SlutzkinFrank Albert Slutzkin

16 Jan 1924 ~ 5 Dec 2009


Frank Albert Slutzkin was born on 16th January 1924 to Sholom and Gladys Slutzkin in Melbourne. He had five older brothers: Leo, Ivon, Alan, Peter and Bob, an older sister Shirley, twin sister Valda and younger sister Nona. Only Bob, aged 92, and Nona survive him. It was a strict religious upbringing but the children still managed to have a lot of fun and get up to lots of mischief.

Frank attended school at Wesley College and courted Meryl Cohen, who was attending PLC. He used to work out his coming home time from school so that he could be on the same tram as her!

Both sang in Rev Kowadlo's St Kilda Synagogue Children's Choir. Their service to the choir continued for many years after the War and Frank took over the Choirmaster duties following on from his brother Leo.

Frank served during the War in the RAN, enlisting as soon as he could in 1942. He rose through the ranks to Lieutenant, serving on HMAS Geelong, which was sunk off PNG in 1944, and then on HMAS Hawkesbury. He served in many areas off PNG, Borneo, Singapore and Phillipines, and was one of the first in to Changi to release the POW's. He stated it was a sight he would never forget. He continued to serve after the war in the Naval reserve with the rank of Lieutenant Commander and was awarded a VRD for those services.

He joined VAJEX (Victorian Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen & Women Inc) after the war and served there in many capacities including as its President in 1956 and then as the Federal President. He was very active in the blood donor aspect of VAJEX and organised the donors out to the Repatriation Hospital in Heidelberg every month. Frank was also involved with prevention of anti-semitic activities with VAJEX, investigating suspect groups and providing security to important Jewish buildings.

Frank married the love of his life, Meryl in May 1946 and they first lived in a house in Dixon Street, Malvern with their beloved springer spaniel Plonka.

Frank initially went into business with his brother Leo but then ventured out into his own fashion agency in Capitol House on Swanston Street and was successful in that for many years. He served as President of the Fashion Agents’ Association.

He and Meryl produced two loving children, Sandra and Colin, and lived all of their family life in Fosbery Avenue, Caulfield with various dogs, birds and fish. They created a warm, loving, kosher family home and taught their children the importance of caring for others, charity and community. Meryl was a role model for charitable work with her long involvement with Jewish Welfare and Ezra, but Frank also served as a Probationary Officer for troubled youth for several years.

Frank and Meryl moved to their unit in Northcote Avenue, Caulfield nearly 30 years ago. Their grandsons, Ben and Paul, fondly remember Friday night dinners there and then the fun of sleeping over at Nanna and Poppa's house and being spoilt by Nanna in the morning!

When Frank decided to leave the fashion industry, he joined his brother Ivon in the manufacture of masonic regalia for many years.

He was then approached to become CEO of Montefiore Homes. He was initially reluctant to do this as he felt he had no experience in the field, but with his flair for business and organisation, he was able to make a great success of it and was popular with both residents and staff.

Frank has been successful in whatever he has attempted due to his dedication and commitment to the task. Over the last 22 years, he has worked as Secretary to the Queen Elizabeth Centre Foundation in a fund-raising capacity and was proud to be part of the building of a new complex in Noble Park. In recognition of his work, he had just been appointed a Life Governor. He was retiring in his role at the end of the year and was looking forward to a function that was being held in his honour. He never felt that he should retire as he never felt too old to work and contribute! His brain was still so active!

He has thoroughly enjoyed his very long involvement with Freemasonry and many years ago, was very proud that he was offered the honour of being Grand Master. He has made friends all over the state through Freemasonry.

He also thoroughly enjoyed the community work and friendships he developed over 20 years through Prahran Rotary which he attended weekly and readily participated in their fund-raising and charitable work. He was President of Prahran Rotary in 1992 ~ 1993 and was honoured a few years later with presentation of the highest award in Rotary, the Paul Harris Award, for his community service.

He was one of the many loyal supporters of the St Kilda Football Club and was devastated by this years' Grand Final result. He went with Sandy and Lionel to all the home matches and happily watched replays of wins time and again!

Frank was a loving family man and loved Shabbat dinners at Sandy and Lionel's, surrounded by his children and grandchildren. He was proud to see his grandsons happy and settled in their personal and professional lives and got a thrill out of their successes.

He was an avid stamp collector and had an amazing stamp collection consisting of 37 albums which he had collected and lovingly worked on all his life. He had many passions apart from football, including cricket, reading, his garden, the arts such as music and opera, and a game of poker. When they were younger, he also loved to travel with Meryl and had a great knowledge of the world. Since Meryl's passing, Ruth has been a wonderful companion for him and we appreciate all that she has been to him.

After Frank's stroke a few years ago, which weakened his left side, everyone imagined this would devastate him, but with his amazingly resilient nature and the help of the wonderful carers from Silver Circle who came every day to shower and dress him, he was back driving himself to work and into his busy lifestyle, much to the admiration of us all.

Sandy wants to make mention of the fantastic love and care that Lionel has shown to his father-in-law who had been a surrogate son to Frank with his son, Colin absent for 30 years in South Africa. Lionel has done everything from helping shower Frank to including him on holidays with them. Frank would often ring to ask Lionel to fix something for him that had to be done "right now", or assemble some complicated thing he had bought! Lionel, Frank loved you like a son and appreciated all you did for him.

Frank has had a wonderful rich and fulfilling life.  He will be very sadly missed by his family that loved and admired him so much and by all his friends who enjoyed his good humour and companionship.

Written by Sandy Walvisch ~ Frank’s daughter

Raye Smith Full Tribute

raye smith2Raye Smith nee Crafti

In the Smith and Crafti families, VAJEX has been a long standing  family institution. So when Rachael Smith passed away on 14 June 2010, VAJEX mourned her loss as part of her extended family and numerous friends.

Raye had other siblings and family who were members of VAJEX:

brother, Mocky (Matthew) Crafti ז״ל, QX43658
sister Pearl QFX64362, who is currently on the committee
brother Yanki (Jacob), QX37462
sister Esther’s husband, Woolf Klapisch ז״ל, British Forces
Raye’s husband, Maurice Smith, 430064
Maurice’s sister, Phyllis Rose ז״ל , VFX116457
Phyllis’ husband Clive Rose ז״ל , VX 15357
Maurice’s sister, Betty Hilton ז״ל , VF346733
Betty’s husband Kurt Hilton ז״ל , V377762

Even Raye’s late father, Q203103 PTE Edward Crafti, who was born in Sebastopol (Crimea) Russia, enlisted on 1 May 1942, served in the 4 Bn Volunteer Defence Corps until he was discharged on 21 Oct 1945. He was the only family member who served and was not a VAJEX member.

Most recently at the end of 2005, Raye and Maurice’s son Ross Smith, who is a well-known local sports physiotherapist, enlisted as a Reservist in 3 Health Support Bn.  

In Ross’ obituary for his mother, he stated that during World War II, the Crafti’s vibrant Jewish home became legendary throughout Australia, and news of their hospitality even spread as far as the United States. Their status was earned from hosting hundreds of Australian and American servicemen and women who were fed a kosher, home-cooked meal or just given a place to rest before they left Australian shores to fight in the South Pacific war region.

Rachael’s dream was to train as a nurse, but her parents were against the idea. As soon as she turned 18, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, where she served as a clerk and developed book-keeping skills.

RachelBut it was her physical attributes that caught the eye of her superiors. They dressed her in overalls, perched her on top of a stationary aircraft, put a pneumatic drill in her hands and used her image to promote female recruitment to the Air Force.

After the war, she joined her sister, Pearl in Melbourne. It was here that she met her future husband, Maurice. On 22 June 1950, Rachael and Maurice were married by Rabbi Dr Alfred Fabian of Brisbane Hebrew Congregation. The wedding was held in the middle of a cyclone, with the bride carried across the Shul’s flooded gutter fireman-style, clinging to her brother-in-law’s shoulders, with her white dress all   dishevelled.

Despite the wet start to their marriage, the couple experienced 59 years and 51 weeks of a busy, but infinitely happy partnership. They were devoted to each other and created a warm, Jewish home which, in the family tradition, was open to all-comers. They raised three grateful children, who, in turn, blessed them with seven loving grandsons and one treasured granddaughter.
 ~ May Her Dear Soul Rest In Peace ~

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