Victorian Association of Jewish Ex & Servicemen & Women Australia Incorporated

Founding Member General Sir John Monash GCMG KCB VD

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VAJEX Australia Blog

  • New Victorian Jewish Memorial

    An announcement was made in the weeks leading up to the Centenary of ANZAC by Judy Landau, President of VAJEX Australia that a new Victorian Jewish WWI & WWII Memorial after the style of the historic memorial located at the Melbourne General Cemetery would be constructed locally. After an extensive two year process, Judy single-handedly sought letters of support, raised the funds, and obtained approval from the City of Port Phillip.

    Judy Landau with New Victorian Jewish WW1 and WW2 Memorial

    The original Victorian Jewish Memorial built in 1924 by the Chevra Kadisha contained the names of 79 WWI & 56 WWII servicemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Judy researched all the names for the new memorial and was shocked to find 18 WWI names and four WWII names were either:
    • not Jewish
    • had no known connection with Victoria
    • didn’t exist; no casualty found

    Additional names found during the research were added to the new memorial. 

    The Memorial was unveiled within a week of the 77th anniversary of Kristallnacht and within days of the 97th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice of WWI. The unveiling and consecration was held on Sunday 15 November 2015 at 11am.


    The Pratt Foundation
    Department of Veterans’ Affairs through Melbourne Ports
    Eva Besen AO & Marc Besen AC

    The Gandel Group funded much of the World War II research. The project would have been significantly delayed without their generosity.

    Thank you to all our donors!

    Written on Thursday, 10 June 2021 15:45 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 18 times
  • Helen and Ian Tuszynski welcome another granddaughter
    Helen and Ian Tuszynski welcome another granddaughter

    We were delighted to read in the AJN of the birth of Georgia Pia Tuszynski on 29 April 2021 - another grand child for Helen and Ian Tuszynski.

    Ian has been a member since 2002 and served in the Australian Army, Monash University Regiment.

    We wish all the family Mazal tov and may she be healthy and happy, bringing Nachas and joy into your lives.

    Written on Tuesday, 08 June 2021 19:27 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 20 times
  • 2021 David Brykman elected President of Mizrachi
    2021 David Brykman elected President of Mizrachi

    Mazal tov to our cantor, David Brykman, on being elected as Mizrachi's new President.

    David has been a member and has participated in our services since 2015 and is very popular. He will be taking part in our 2021 Remembrance Service so please come along and support us and hear his fabulous voice! 

    For details of the 2021 Remembrance Service: 

    Written on Tuesday, 08 June 2021 19:07 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 17 times
  • 2017 Anzac Commemoration

    President Harry Lubansky and the ceremonial team Julie Leder and Judy Landau had a packed house at today's ANZAC Commemoration service.

    The service was held in the presence of:

    Immediate Past President and Life Member Dr Judy Landau (and Mr Steve Tusak)
    Past President and Life Member Mr Ben Hirsh (and Mrs Hanna Hirsh)
    Life Member Mrs Ruby Grose
    Life Member Mr Ian Mansfield (and Mrs Alona Mansfield)

    Mr Tim Wilson MP, Federal Liberal Member for Goldstein
    Mr David Southwick, MP State Member for Caulfield

    Cr Mary Delahunty, Mayor City of Glen Eira
    Cr Tony Athanasopoulos
    Cr Jamie Hyams
    Cr Joel Silver

    Mr Simon Bloomer, President Carry On Victoria
    Legatee Graeme Plumridge, President Melbourne Legacy
    Mr Geoff Goldsmith, representing Caulfield RSL & also representing NZ RSL

    Mr David Marlow, Executive Director JCCV
    Ms Roni Fraid, Vice President JNF Victoria and National Board member JNF
    Mrs Rysia Rozen OAM, President National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (and Mr Richard Rozen OAM)
    Mrs Atida Lipshatz, representing Zionism Victoria

    Guest of Honour was COL John Coulson OAM RFD ED Governor of the Shrine of Remembrance and Chairman of the Battle for Australia Foundation.

    Memorial candles were lit and Psalm 23 was recited by member Mr Dennis Max. Many wreaths were placed before the Ode was recited by Mr Harry Lubansky. Last Post, minute's silence and Reveille* was sounded by a bugler from the Royal Australian Navy Band. * Note: RAN sounds Reveille and not Rouse.

    Kel Maleh Rachamim was chanted by Chaplain CAPT Rabbi Dovid Gutnick, VAJEX Australia & ADF Chaplain. Kaddish was said by our welfare officer, Mr Efraim Finch.

    The presentations of the Private Gregory Sher Memorial awards were given by Captain Joshua Fink who represented the Sher Family who were interstate. Students eligible for the award are not already taking a high leadership profile in the school, but contribute by doing service in the community or at their school, in an outstanding way. Private Gregory Sher had the lowest rank in the army, but he made a significant difference with his service and sacrifice.

    Winners were:
    Dobba Raskin and Aliza Werdiger

    Cara Davies and Tania Szwarcberg

    Benji Kalkopf and Aimee Raitman

    Nathan Faiman and Gabriella Katz

    Mikhayla Burstin and Milo Friedman

    Ellie Figdor and Aaron Segal

    Zoitsa Diakoumis and Reuben Stein-Fooks

    Ilan Janet and Efraim Raskin

    President Mr Harry Lubansky with Immediate Past President Dr Judy Landau and Past President Mr Ben Hirsh.

    The event was proudly supported by Glen Eira City Council.

    Written on Sunday, 30 April 2017 19:51 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 2211 times
  • ANZAC Centenary Remembrance Service in Hobart

    Julie Leder represented VAJEX Australia at Hobart Synagogue on Sunday, 30th of October 2016.

    The service honoured current and ex-service members of the Australian Defence Force.
    In particular, for the Centenary of ANZAC, mention was made of the 16 members of the Tasmanian Jewish Community who served in World War 1, especially the three Tasmanian Jewish Soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice.
    The highlight of the service was the dedication of a new Honour Roll Plaque, displaying the names of all the Tasmanian Jews who served in the Boer War, WW1 and WW2 and it was blessed by Rabbi Yochanan Gordon from Launceston Synagogue.
    The event was attended by Senator the Hon Eric Abetz, Chaplain Rabbi Yossi Friedman from RAAF Richmond, many relatives of those who served and many other distinguished guests.
    Afterwards, Julie attended the Hobart Town Hall for a function to recognise the ANZAC Remembrance Service of the Tasmanian Jewish Community.

    Written on Monday, 31 October 2016 15:49 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 1414 times
  • Ben Hirsh's special birthday

    Immediate Past President and Life Member

    At the party, Ben was surrounded by family and friends. Ben has made life-long friends far and wide from his many interests and it was special to have large numbers of these people in the same room at the same time.

    Children and grandchildren made speeches that would warm the heart of any who heard, and the love and respect shown by all attending was a real tribute to a man who is a mensch.

    From all of us here at VAJEX Australia, we wish you a very happy birthday and look forward to your many more healthy happy years. 

    Written on Monday, 19 September 2016 16:14 in VAJEX Australia Category
    Tags: Ben Hirsh
    Read 1288 times
  • 2015 Private Greg Sher Memorial Awards

    Mr Felix and Mrs Yvonne Sher presented the awards inagurated by VAJEX Australia in memory of their son, Private Gregory Sher obm, at the VAJEX Australia 2016 ANZAC Commemoration service held on 1 May 2016 at the Glen Eira Town Hall Auditorium.

    Greg was tragically killed in action in Afghanistan on 4 January 2009.

    Greg Sher Awards 2015 - winners - VAJEX Australia

    The Individual Winners

    Beth Rivkah Ladies College - Megan Gorley

    Megan’s involvement in all school activities has been a pleasure to see. She has been involved in Yad L’eEzra as a volunteer and has been very involved in our Tzedakah committee raising funds for various causes. She has been named as Health and Well-being Prefect for 2016. Her enthusiasm and good behaviour make her a worthy recipient for this award.

    Greg Sher Award winner - Megan Gorley

    Beth Rivkah Ladies College - Michal Goldberger

    Michal’s involvement in all school activities has been a pleasure to see. She has been involved in Yad L’Ezra as a volunteer and has been very involved in our Tzedakah committee raising funds for various causes including raising money to buy a motorbike for MDA in Israel. Her constant efforts and enthusiasm have been one of the main drivers behind this amazing initiative. She is a hardworking and determined young lady who has been made a Prefect for the Tzedakah committee in 2016. She is a worthy recipient of the Greg Sher award.

    Bialik College - Elana Forbes

    Elana exemplifies what it means to lead by example. She is a true leader. Elana consistently gives her time and energy to volunteer to make the school and the world a better place. Elana has mentored younger students as a youth leader and leads her peers as a school captain as she goes into her final year at school. Elana is a champion of the arts, Jewish culture and student engagement. Bialik College is a better place thanks to the efforts of Elana.

    Bialik College - Zack Stein

    Zack embodies the spirit of leadership and mateship. He is consistently the first to volunteer his time and energy to better the school and the world around him. Zack has been a champion of student leadership and works tirelessly to improve students involvement and engagement with their culture and the world. He has mentored younger students as a youth leader and leads his peers as a senior school captain.

    Leibler Yavneh - Rochelle Wittenberg

    Always enthusiastic and energetic, Rochelle exudes vibrance, passion and dedication. Rochelle volunteers for a myriad of charities and fund raising activities. She regularly donates her time to helping co-ordinate year level projects and activities and is selfless in her devotion to our College. Rochelle is an exceptional friend, always generous, kind and reliable. She is an extremely hard worker and always strives to achieve outstanding results. I have no hesitation in recommending Rochelle for the Greg Sher Memorial Award - she is a true Eshet Chayil.

    Leibler Yavneh - Ari Goldberg

    Ari is an exceptional young man, multi-talented, generous, kind and caring. He is an outstanding academic student, always striving to give his best to every subject area. Ari volunteers to help both the College and the wider community in a myriad of ways. The stalwart of our Yavneh Tech Crew, Ari was responsible for ensuring the audio-visual needs of our College assemblies, functions and activities ran to clockwork. Always reliable, responsible, enthusiastic and eager, Ari is every teacher and students' "dream child". A true mentch.

    Mt Scopus Memorial College - Zoe Finger

    Zoe has shown exceptional leadership in her role as College Captain.

    Mt Scopus Memorial College - Alex Miller

    Alex has shown exceptional leadership in his role as College Captain.

    Sholem Aleichem College - Ellah Yaary

    It is a great pleasure for me to recommend Ellah for the Greg Sher award. Ellah is a dedicated, versatile and talented student who has contributed to the school and wider communities in a variety of ways, most notably through her enthusiastic participation in the Kinder Buddy Program and the Year 5 Fundraising Initiative which collected over $5000 for the Nepal Earthquake Relief. It is not adequate to say that she accepts responsibility readily. She seeks responsibility. Ellah’s motivation is not forced upon her, nor does she wear it like a badge. She is a kind, generous and sensitive student who consistently displays the Sholem Values of a Lifetime. Ellah has my respect and my highest recommendation.

    Sholem Aleichem College - Kalman Sharp

    Kalman has raised Tzedakah by signing up sponsors for a Walk-a-thon and Bike-a-thon that he participated in this year. Kalman actively looks for opportunities to help others in need. He is to be commended for his initiative and effort.

    The King David School - Jory Braun

    Jory has involved himself in many school and community activities. In consultation with others at school, we nominate Jory Braun for this year’s award.

    The King David School - Rebecca Freedman

    Rebecca has involved herself in many school and community activities. In consultation with others at school, we nominate Rebecca Freedman for this year’s award.

    UJEB - Name Withheld

    The student has attended our after school centre in Caulfield for several years. While diligent in all areas of his work, the student displays a particular enthusiasm for Hebrew language, and has excelled in his studies this year. In addition, the student has demonstrated leadership qualities in his school setting, acting as a positive role model for other students and assisting with set up for the end of year concert. We are proud to nominate the student for this award.

    UJEB - Rebekah Kirkwood

    Rebekah has been attending our after school centre in Bentleigh for three years. She displays ongoing curiosity in her learning, allied to diligence and persistence. Rebekah has used the geography skills and knowledge of Israel’s water solutions in her public school Humanities project, showing her proud Jewish identity in all areas of her life. We are proud to nominate Rebekah for this award.

    Yeshivah College - Yaakov Dovid Gordon

    Yaakov Dovid is involved in the following programs and volunteering opportunities:
    1. He travels regularly to help outlying Jewish communities such as in Tasmania, for weekends.
    2. He organises various different events within school.
    3. He volunteers to visit non-affiliated Jews each Friday in order to connect them with their heritage.
    4. He is always willing to raise a hand and help with anything that needs to be done during and after school hours.

    Yeshivah College - Ari Kornhauser

    Ari is involved in various volunteering programs and organises the following:
    1. He heads a Gemach (Hebrew for charitable organisation) during school, which allows students to borrow money for lunch etc
    2. He has started to volunteer for Friendship Circle – a group which helps families with children with special needs.
    3. Ari has prepared and presented various videos and power point presentations for school-run assemblies and activities.
    4. He is always the first to raise his hand and help staff and his peers as necessary.

    Written on Sunday, 22 May 2016 14:13 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 3391 times
  • Glen Eira ANZAC Service
    Glen Eira ANZAC Service

    Vice President Julie Leder attended the City of Glen Eira ANZAC Commemorative Service today with the wreath on behalf of VAJEX Australia.

    Written on Sunday, 17 April 2016 19:19 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 1383 times
  • 2015 JCCV Award

    As Vice President and Ceremonial Manager of VAJEX Australia, Julie Leder is a highly respected and well-liked board member. She is recognised and admired by the wider Jewish and Military Communities as well as other ex-service organisations with whom we have close ties. She is a great ambassador with a sunny smile.

    She is a valued assistant to the President and Julie cheerfully rolls her sleeves up to do many behind the scenes tasks.

    When she takes the microphone as MC for our commemorative services, we all know that the event will be handled with sensitivity and warmth. Participants are welcomed to the microphone with Julie encouragingly standing by. Each segment flows seamlessly to the next with Julie’s capable guidance.

    Julie’s happy disposition is contagious and we look forward to many more years of Julie volunteering with VAJEX Australia.

    IMG 2761a

    Written on Monday, 16 November 2015 19:00 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 1778 times


    Award presented by Lady Cowen AM

    Mazal Tov Judy!

    IMG 4310

    Written on Sunday, 15 November 2015 18:07 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 19175 times


    Award presented by Lady Cowen AM

    Mazal Tov Ian!

    IMG 4314

    Written on Sunday, 15 November 2015 18:02 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 1704 times


    The Hon Ted Baillieu and Mrs Baillieu
    Lady Cowen AM
    MAJGEN Jeffrey Rosenfeld AM OBE KStJ, Patron in Chief
    Mr Jack Smorgon AO, Patron
    Mr Ben Hirsh, Immediate Past President and Life Member
    Mrs Ruby Grose, Life Member
    Mr Simon Bloomer, President Carry On (Victoria)
    Mr John Poland, President & Mr Peter Holz, VP TPI Ex-servicemen & Women Vic
    Mr Bob Larkin, President Caulfield RSL
    Mr Gary March, Chair Friends Elwood RSL
    MAJ Mike Wells
    Mr David Marlow, Executive Director, JCCV
    Ms Jennifer Huppert, President, JCCV
    Mrs Rysia Rozen OAM, President National Council of Jewish Women Australia
    Ms Brenda Segal, JNF
    Mrs Margaret Pagone, The King David School
    Bereaved Families of WWI and WWII
    Bereaved Families from the last 12 months
    Ladies and Gentlemen

    During Remembrance week each year, we join together in solemn, silent reflection as we remember the tragedies of WWI and WWII with the untimate sacrifice made by those who served there, and in other armed conflicts which our Nation has been engaged. This morning, we have paused and remembered with grateful thanks, and determined that our fallen will never be forgotten.

    This year we have honoured their memories in a way not seen in our community since 1947 when the historic WWII Memorial was unveiled at the Melbourne General Cemetery, and before that in 1924 when the original WWI Memorial was unveiled by Sir John Monash. Our very own Jeffrey Rosenfeld has today followed in the steps of Monash by unveiling the twin of the historic Memorial in Carlton, for our Community.

    Please charge your glasses and be upstanding if you can. I propose a toast to our association formed in 1929, to all our current and past Patrons, Presidents and Office Bearers, members not well enough to be with us today and to those departed. To VAJEX Australia and absent friends.

    IMG 4247
    Book of Remembrance Reception
    Written on Sunday, 15 November 2015 17:51 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 1784 times
  • New WWI & WWII Victorian Jewish Memorial Unveiled

    New WWI & WWII Victorian Jewish Memorial Unveiled 15 November 2015

    November 2011 was the last Remembrance Day Commemoration service held at the Melbourne General Cemetery at our Historic Memorial known as "The Obelisk." Our ageing veterans found it too far to travel.

    After more than two years research by President Judy Landau, it was proven that 15 WWI names on the Historic Memorial were not Jewish or were not found as casualties. Therefore were not included on the new Memorial. Those on the Historic Memorial who, during the research period, were not found to have a connection with Victoria, were included on the new Memorial as there was a possibility that the connection was there but not found at the time. Twenty two newly discovered WWI names were added.

    It was proven that one WWII name on the Historic Memorial was not Jewish. Therefore was not included on the new Memorial. Those on the Historic Memorial who, during the research period, were not found to have a connection with Victoria, were included on the new Memorial as there was a possibility that the connection was there but not found at the time. Sixteen newly discovered WWII names were added.


    Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.

    This service is different from any that my generation has seen before. I won’t be acknowledging our honoured guests by name as would normally be done, because today’s event is to honour the names of the fallen Victorian-connected Jewish heros of WWI and WWII.

    The acknowledgements that need mentioning right now are of the generous major sponsors who enabled this magnificent Memorial to be constructed.




    I offer to the sponsors, the grateful thanks of the community which includes the bereaved families of our fallen, whose names are etched onto the Monument.

    Thank you to the CoPP and Heritage Victoria for offering the site for the Memorial and thanks to Advanced Stone for the fabulous job you have done in making and erecting the Monument.

    Looking around, I see the faces of some family members of the men behind the names on the memorial. There is a son representing his father from Sydney whose brother was a WWII casualty; a son whose father is buried in New Guinea; a nephew whose uncle is buried in New Guinea; great nieces and nephews whose fallen are buried in far away places such as Gallipoli and France; we have two first cousins twice removed here, of an unrecovered war casualty on the verge of being identified, having been KIA at Fromelles and buried in a mass grave; 3rd St Kilda scouts are present to honour the memories of their ten former scouts who didn’t come home. Wesley College staff are here with a wreath containing many names from both World Wars and Melbourne Law School representatives have come to honour one of their fallen graduates.

    These are but a few bereaved families and groups demonstrating that this Memorial is a vital link for many, and relevant to us even though it is so long ago when those memorialised were tragically killed. It also paints a picture of the devastation and grief that our small community suffered and still suffers and struggles, with the losses. 

    Unlike today, the bodies of our dead from both World Wars were not repatriated back home, so for the vast majority, there are no graves in Melbourne to visit for remembrance and mourning. Until now, all these families had was the historic Memorial at the Melbourne General Cemetery (which from my in depth research, uncovered that it was missing many names). Now this twin Memorial is updated and very much closer to where we live, and is a place where families and friends of our fallen can come to honour the memories of our own who did not come home.

    The men behind the names. We will remember you!

    Lest We Forget

    IMG 3932

    Written on Sunday, 15 November 2015 17:29 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 1870 times
  • Governor-General Visits Joint JMA & VAJEX Australia Exhibition

    "At the Jewish Museum of Australia, St Kilda, the Governor-General and Lady Cosgrove, were guests of the Director and CEO, Ms Rebecca Forgasz, President, Barry Fradkin OAM and President VAJEX Australia, Dr Judy Landau, viewed the ‘True Jews and Patriots: Australian Jews and World War One exhibition."

    The above statement appears on the Governor-General's website:

    Judy Landau writes:
    I had a chance to explain about my research for the new WWI & WWII Memorial and how DNA was sent only last week to hopefully identify one of our youngest casualties who was killed in action at the tender age of 16. It is thought that his remains have been found in a mass grave at Fromelles and his second cousin, who is a new VAJEX Australia member, supplied the DNA.

    The WW1 names for the new Memorial are printed on one of the walls of the exhibition and after hearing the story of the young soldier, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret'd) took a pebble and placed it in memory of him. It was a very special moment. Her Excellency Lady Cosgrove placed a pebble in memory of one of the newly discovered soldiers. This is a memory I will always treasure.

    As they were about to leave, Sir Peter asked if there were any Jewish nurses amongst the Australian nurses who went over to the battlefields. What a pity he didn't have time to hear my reply because there were five Jewish nurses with a Victorian connection who served in World War One. Some time ago I made a DVD on this topic with a pamphlet to accompany it and with Julie Leder, gave a talk to a women's group about women in the Armed Forces.

    Photo: Peter Haskin

    cosgrove 3

    Written on Monday, 27 July 2015 22:19 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 1903 times
  • Anzac of the Year!
    Anzac of the Year!

    Five minutes ago, our Patron-in-Chief MAJGEN Jeffrey Rosenfeld AM OBE KStJ was awarded the prestigious ANZAC of the Year Award by MAJ GEN David McLaughlin AO Ret'd, State President of the RSL.

    From the RSL Website:

    In its desire to honour those who serve in peace as well as perpetuating the memory and gallantry of those who served in war, the Returned & Services League of Australia has established a series of National Honours - the ANZAC Awards.

    The ANZAC Awards are, the ANZAC Peace Prize, only one of which is awarded to an Australian individual or group for outstanding efforts in promoting international understanding and peace, and the ANZAC of the Year Awards, seven of which may be awarded each year to Australian individuals or groups for service to the community in a positive, compassionate and selfless manner.   

    Mazal Tov!

    Photo courtesy Julie Leder

    Written on Wednesday, 01 July 2015 10:48 in VAJEX Australia Category Read 1749 times
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