Rabbi Shalom Coleman In The News

9 December 2021

 

Perth’s Rabbi Dr Shalom Coleman celebrates his 103rd birthday

 

Rabbi Shalom Coleman – 103! – Mazeltov!

With long standing friends from the Bloemfontein days, Barney and Myra Wasserman, taken last week at the Perth Jewish Centre.

Here are photos and items reposted from my previous posts

The People’s Rabbi

Rabbi Shalom Coleman

Who Am I!

Watch Video:

Source: youtu.be/bD4pm_sQ1HE

Coleman

Source: elirab.com/Coleman.html

SHALOM COLEMAN – RABBINIC DYNAMO

by Raymond Apple, emeritus rabbi of the Great Synagogue, Sydney

 Bio about 10 years ago

Small in size but a giant in stature – that describes Rabbi Shalom Coleman, who changed the face of Judaism in Western Australia. Thanks to his refusal to give up or give in, a sleepy, distant community was set on the path to becoming a lively centre of orthodoxy. Rabbi Coleman is now over 90, hopefully with three more decades of work ahead until the proverbial 120.

Born into an orthodox family in Liverpool on 5 December, 1918, he was both a student and a man of action from his youth. At the University of Liverpool he gained a BA degree with honours, plus a Bachelor of Letters in Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages and Egyptology. His education was interrupted by World War II when he served with the Royal Air Force as a wireless operator/air gunner on missions in France and Western Europe, and in 1944 he was recruiting officer in England for the Jewish Brigade Group. He returned to university in 1945 as tutor, review writer and librarian.   At Jews’ College, he gained rabbinic ordination in 1955.  He also undertook postgraduate studies in Semitic languages at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

In 1947, at the suggestion of the then Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Dr Louis Rabinowitz, he went to the Potchefstroom Hebrew Congregation in the Transvaal and then served the Bloemfontein Hebrew Congregation in the Orange Free State from 1949-1960.  Whilst in South Africa, he gained an MA at the University of Pretoria and a PhD at the University of the Orange Free State for a thesis entitled “Hosea Concepts in Midrash and Talmud”.

He was chairman of the Adult Education Council (English Section) of the Orange Free State and vice-president of the Victoria League, and introduced essay and oratory contests for schools. As a military chaplain he was active in the ex-service movement and was awarded the Certificate of Comradeship, the highest award of the MOTHS (Memorable Order of Tin Hats). He edited a Jewish community journal called “HaShomer” and an anniversary volume for the 150th anniversary of the Orange Free State.

In 1961 he came to Sydney as rabbi of the South Head Synagogue. He was a member of the Sydney Beth Din, vice-president of the NSW Board of Jewish Education and director of the David J. Benjamin Institute of Jewish Studies, for whom he edited three volumes of proceedings. He established a seminary for the training of Hebrew teachers. He lectured at the University of Sydney and wrote a thesis entitled “Malachi in Midrashic Analysis” for a DLitt.

In 1964 he received the Robert Waley Cohen Scholarship of the Jewish Memorial Council, using it for research into adult education in South-East Asia, Israel and the USA. In 1965 he became rabbi of the Perth Hebrew Congregation in Western Australia.  He held office until retirement in 1985.

He determined to turn Perth into a Makom Torah. He obtained land as a gift in trust from the State Government for a new synagogue, youth centre and minister’s residence in an area where the Jewish community lived in Mount Lawley, replacing the original downtown Shule.   At that time few members were Shom’rei Shabbat. Further initiatives led to a kosher food centre in the Synagogue grounds; a mikveh; a genizah  for the burial of outworn holy books and appurtenances; a Hebrew Academy where high school students met daily, and extra classes four days a week at a nearby state school.

He taught for the Department of Adult Education of the University of WA and served on the Senate of Murdoch University. He was an honorary professor at Maimonides College in Canada, led educational tours to Israel for non-Jewish clergy and teachers, lectured to religious groups, schools and service organisations, and wrote booklets so people of all faiths could understand Jews and Judaism. Talks with the Minister of Education led to a Committee of National Consciousness in Schools, which he chaired; the Minister called his work “invaluable”.

Known as “the rabbi who never stops”, he was a member of the Karrakatta and Pinarroo Valley Cemetery Boards and wrote two histories for them to mark the State’s 150th anniversary in 1979 and the Australian Bicentenary in 1988. He was a member of the Perth Dental Hospital Board and chaired the Senior Appointments Committee and then the Board. The North Perth Dental Clinic is now known as the Shalom Coleman Dental Clinic.

A Rotarian since 1962, first in Sydney and then in Perth, he was President 1985/86 and Governor 1993/9, representative of the World President in 1995, and representative of WA Rotary at the UN Presidential Conference in San Francisco in 1995. He was co-ordinator of the District Ethics and Community Service Committees and chaired the Bangladesh Cyclone Warning Project, which saved the lives of 40,000 residents of the chief fishing port of Bangladesh. He received a certificate of appreciation as District Secretary of Probus Centre, South Pacific. He has spoken at conferences all over the world and is a patron of the Family Association of WA. He has been a vice-president of Save the Children Fund since 1967.

He was a foundation member of the Perth Round Table and their first lecturer. He is still an honorary military chaplain and was on the executive of the Returned Services League and edited their “Listening Post” from 1989-91. He holds high rank in Freemasonry. He is honorary rabbi at the Maurice Zeffertt Centre for the Aged and was made a Governor of the Perth Aged Home Society in 2004. After several years as president of the Australian and New Zealand rabbinate his colleagues made him honorary life president. Several times he went to NZ as interim rabbi for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. He shines in the pulpit, and is a fine chazzan.  He has received awards from the Queen and the Australian Government. The University of WA gave him an honorary LLD in April 2000.  He is still, despite his age, a prolific speaker and writer; travels widely and his services are in constant demand.

In 1942 he married Bessie Anna Daviat, who died in 1982.   He has a son in Melbourne, a daughter in the USA, grandchildren and great- grandchildren. He married Elena Doktorovich in 1987; she died in 1997.

Small in stature, Rabbi Coleman is a giant in energy, enterprise and enthusiasm, and is one of Australia’s best known figures. Largely thanks to him, Judaism is strong in Perth, with five synagogues, a Chabad House, a Jewish school, a fine kashrut system, and many shi’urim; his own Talmud shi’ur is legendary. No longer is it a struggle to be Jewish in Western Australia.

The Community Rabbi
With Rabbi Dan Lieberman
With Rivka Majteles
With Rabbi Dovid Freilich and the Blitz Family
With Rabbi Marcus Solomon, Eli Rachamim & Eli Rabinowitz
With Eli Rabinowitz & Joanna Fox

Spiritual Treasure – Book Launch at the Perth Hebrew Congregation

Source: elirab.me/spiritual-treasure-book-launch-at-the-perth-hebrew-congregation/

Rabbi Coleman and The Bloemfontein Reunion

Rabbi Coleman and Bloemfontein Reunion

Rabbi Coleman reminisces about his time in Bloemfontein as Jewish Spiritual Leader – 1949 to 1959.  Perth, Australia 3 February 2016

Watch Video:

Source: youtu.be/GVUN1PtPD0g

 

Rabbi Shalom Coleman 103! Mazeltov!

5 December 2021

Rabbi Shalom Coleman – 103! – Mazeltov!

With long standing friends from the Bloemfontein days, Barney and Myra Wasserman, taken last week at the Perth Jewish Centre.

Here are photos and items reposted from my previous posts

The People’s Rabbi

Rabbi Shalom Coleman

Who Am I!

Watch Video:

Source: youtu.be/bD4pm_sQ1HE

Coleman

Source: elirab.com/Coleman.html

SHALOM COLEMAN – RABBINIC DYNAMO

by Raymond Apple, emeritus rabbi of the Great Synagogue, Sydney

 Bio about 10 years ago

Small in size but a giant in stature – that describes Rabbi Shalom Coleman, who changed the face of Judaism in Western Australia. Thanks to his refusal to give up or give in, a sleepy, distant community was set on the path to becoming a lively centre of orthodoxy. Rabbi Coleman is now over 90, hopefully with three more decades of work ahead until the proverbial 120.

Born into an orthodox family in Liverpool on 5 December, 1918, he was both a student and a man of action from his youth. At the University of Liverpool he gained a BA degree with honours, plus a Bachelor of Letters in Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages and Egyptology. His education was interrupted by World War II when he served with the Royal Air Force as a wireless operator/air gunner on missions in France and Western Europe, and in 1944 he was recruiting officer in England for the Jewish Brigade Group. He returned to university in 1945 as tutor, review writer and librarian.   At Jews’ College, he gained rabbinic ordination in 1955.  He also undertook postgraduate studies in Semitic languages at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

In 1947, at the suggestion of the then Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Dr Louis Rabinowitz, he went to the Potchefstroom Hebrew Congregation in the Transvaal and then served the Bloemfontein Hebrew Congregation in the Orange Free State from 1949-1960.  Whilst in South Africa, he gained an MA at the University of Pretoria and a PhD at the University of the Orange Free State for a thesis entitled “Hosea Concepts in Midrash and Talmud”.

He was chairman of the Adult Education Council (English Section) of the Orange Free State and vice-president of the Victoria League, and introduced essay and oratory contests for schools. As a military chaplain he was active in the ex-service movement and was awarded the Certificate of Comradeship, the highest award of the MOTHS (Memorable Order of Tin Hats). He edited a Jewish community journal called “HaShomer” and an anniversary volume for the 150th anniversary of the Orange Free State.

In 1961 he came to Sydney as rabbi of the South Head Synagogue. He was a member of the Sydney Beth Din, vice-president of the NSW Board of Jewish Education and director of the David J. Benjamin Institute of Jewish Studies, for whom he edited three volumes of proceedings. He established a seminary for the training of Hebrew teachers. He lectured at the University of Sydney and wrote a thesis entitled “Malachi in Midrashic Analysis” for a DLitt.

In 1964 he received the Robert Waley Cohen Scholarship of the Jewish Memorial Council, using it for research into adult education in South-East Asia, Israel and the USA. In 1965 he became rabbi of the Perth Hebrew Congregation in Western Australia.  He held office until retirement in 1985.

He determined to turn Perth into a Makom Torah. He obtained land as a gift in trust from the State Government for a new synagogue, youth centre and minister’s residence in an area where the Jewish community lived in Mount Lawley, replacing the original downtown Shule.   At that time few members were Shom’rei Shabbat. Further initiatives led to a kosher food centre in the Synagogue grounds; a mikveh; a genizah  for the burial of outworn holy books and appurtenances; a Hebrew Academy where high school students met daily, and extra classes four days a week at a nearby state school.

He taught for the Department of Adult Education of the University of WA and served on the Senate of Murdoch University. He was an honorary professor at Maimonides College in Canada, led educational tours to Israel for non-Jewish clergy and teachers, lectured to religious groups, schools and service organisations, and wrote booklets so people of all faiths could understand Jews and Judaism. Talks with the Minister of Education led to a Committee of National Consciousness in Schools, which he chaired; the Minister called his work “invaluable”.

Known as “the rabbi who never stops”, he was a member of the Karrakatta and Pinarroo Valley Cemetery Boards and wrote two histories for them to mark the State’s 150th anniversary in 1979 and the Australian Bicentenary in 1988. He was a member of the Perth Dental Hospital Board and chaired the Senior Appointments Committee and then the Board. The North Perth Dental Clinic is now known as the Shalom Coleman Dental Clinic.

A Rotarian since 1962, first in Sydney and then in Perth, he was President 1985/86 and Governor 1993/9, representative of the World President in 1995, and representative of WA Rotary at the UN Presidential Conference in San Francisco in 1995. He was co-ordinator of the District Ethics and Community Service Committees and chaired the Bangladesh Cyclone Warning Project, which saved the lives of 40,000 residents of the chief fishing port of Bangladesh. He received a certificate of appreciation as District Secretary of Probus Centre, South Pacific. He has spoken at conferences all over the world and is a patron of the Family Association of WA. He has been a vice-president of Save the Children Fund since 1967.

He was a foundation member of the Perth Round Table and their first lecturer. He is still an honorary military chaplain and was on the executive of the Returned Services League and edited their “Listening Post” from 1989-91. He holds high rank in Freemasonry. He is honorary rabbi at the Maurice Zeffertt Centre for the Aged and was made a Governor of the Perth Aged Home Society in 2004. After several years as president of the Australian and New Zealand rabbinate his colleagues made him honorary life president. Several times he went to NZ as interim rabbi for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. He shines in the pulpit, and is a fine chazzan.  He has received awards from the Queen and the Australian Government. The University of WA gave him an honorary LLD in April 2000.  He is still, despite his age, a prolific speaker and writer; travels widely and his services are in constant demand.

In 1942 he married Bessie Anna Daviat, who died in 1982.   He has a son in Melbourne, a daughter in the USA, grandchildren and great- grandchildren. He married Elena Doktorovich in 1987; she died in 1997.

Small in stature, Rabbi Coleman is a giant in energy, enterprise and enthusiasm, and is one of Australia’s best known figures. Largely thanks to him, Judaism is strong in Perth, with five synagogues, a Chabad House, a Jewish school, a fine kashrut system, and many shi’urim; his own Talmud shi’ur is legendary. No longer is it a struggle to be Jewish in Western Australia.

The Community Rabbi
With Rabbi Dan Lieberman
With Rivka Majteles
With Rabbi Dovid Freilich and the Blitz Family
With Rabbi Marcus Solomon, Eli Rachamim & Eli Rabinowitz
With Eli Rabinowitz & Joanna Fox

Spiritual Treasure – Book Launch at the Perth Hebrew Congregation

Source: elirab.me/spiritual-treasure-book-launch-at-the-perth-hebrew-congregation/

Rabbi Coleman and The Bloemfontein Reunion

Rabbi Coleman and Bloemfontein Reunion

Rabbi Coleman reminisces about his time in Bloemfontein as Jewish Spiritual Leader – 1949 to 1959.  Perth, Australia 3 February 2016

Watch Video:

Source: youtu.be/GVUN1PtPD0g

 

For the Life of Me

Pete lives in LA. He is an experienced TV Commercial, Documentary Executive & Filmmaker
This is his very personal documentary about the discovery of both his heritage and his family’s history, “For the Life of Me”

Film Synopsis

Following a heart attack, fifty-year-old Peter Vanlaw is haunted by questions about his family.  He delves into his father’s long-held secret and discovers that his family is Jewish.  Upon the death of his parents, he uncovers hundreds of family photos and reels of 16mm film. This wealth of material leads him to family stories of pathos and danger dating back to the early 1900s.

Ultimately,  all are woven into a  film about the discoveries of his heritage, of close relatives he never knew, of the ravages of his mother’s mental illness, of a grandparent’s suicide, and of the lasting damage caused by the Holocaust. His story takes us from California to pre-war Germany, Europe, Asia and beyond.

Blog: stories researched by Pete when developing his film:

Lesson Plans

In two parts. The first is the lesson plan for grades 3 thru 12, and the second is for upper level students (USA). Contact Eli: eli@elirab.com

Film – 45 mins

 

The Marvellous Mr Maisel!

Australia has adopted the IHRA definition of Antisemitism.
In his video announcing this, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, highlighted  my dear friend and Litvak survivor, Phillip Maisel.
Here is the short video with the announcement:

Scott Morrison – IHRA – Phillp Maisel

Morrison IHRA Maisel

Source: youtu.be/bsG8B7MFMGI

 Phillip Maisel has  just turned 99 – a survivor from Vilnius.
His book – The Keeper of Miracles, was published in time for his 99th birthday.
Phillip filmed over 1000 interviews with survivors!
Phillip Maisel thought he?d lost his twin sister during the war. Finding her again by sheer chance is just one of the things for which this (nearly) 99-year-old is thankful.
Phillip was a friend of Hirsh Glik, the Litvak who wrote the Partisans’ Song, Zog Nit Keynmol, in 1943.
Glik was killed in Estonia in 1944.
Phillip has provided me with invaluable input for my own project – the We Are Here! Foundation.

WE ARE HERE! – For Upstanders – Founded by Eli Rabinowitz

WE ARE HERE! – For Upstanders – Founded by Eli Rabinowitz

For Upstanders – Founded by Eli Rabinowitz

Source: wah.foundation

Here is a short but powerful interview we did in 2017:

Why Zog Nit Keynmol is so important!

Why Zog Nit Keynmol is so important!

Phillip Maisel talks about Hirsh Glik and Zog Nit Keynmol. Melbourne, Australia 22 August 2017

Source: youtu.be/3vYDXOQ_lSk

Phillip telling Sholem Aleichem students about Hirsh Glik

Introduction to the Partisans’ Song : Phillip Maisel

At most Holocaust commemorations we sing the Partisans’ Song, Zog Nit Kein’mol, composed by Hirsh Glick. Hirsh Glick was my friend, and I was privileged to be the first, together with two others, to whom Hirsh read the words of the song.

My name is Phillip Maisel. I work as a volunteer at the Jewish Holocaust Centre where I am responsible for the testimonies’ department. I am a Holocaust survivor.

In 1941 I was managing a stationery store in Vilna when the Soviet Union occupied the city. At the same time Hirshke Glick was working in a similar store. I was 19; he was 21. Both of us were members of a Soviet trade union and  we attended a compulsory weekly Communist indoctrination meetings at 8:00 pm each Thursday evening. Hirshke and I became friends, and after each meeting we would walk along the banks of the Wilia River where Hirshke, already well known for his work as a poet, would discuss his poetry with me.

The two of us were young, and wanted to build a new world.

Hirshke was a very interesting person. He was quiet, dreamy and always very introspective. He told me that he would compose complete poems in his head, as it were, and write them down only when they were finished– and then never change a single word.

In June 1941 the Germans occupied Vilna. In September they created the ghetto. In the ghetto I maintained contact with all my former trade union friends, including Hirshke. He, however, was sent to work at a camp called Rezsche, but brought back later to the Vilna ghetto after that camp was liquidated. It was then that he wrote the Partisans’ Song, Zog Nit Kein’mol.

He first read it to three of us – in a cellar located in Straszuna Street.  I was present with my sister, Bella, together with Maishke, who had been the secretary of our trade union. We sat there and Hirshke read to us in the light of a candle placed on top of a box. He subsequently read the poem to fellow members of a literary society. The tune to which he then sung the words was composed by Russian Jewish composers, Dmitri and Daniel Pokrass.

On 1 September 1943, on the first day of liquidation of Vilna Ghetto I was deported to Estonia. I was attached to a mobile garage and was working as an automotive electrician for the Germans. The workshop travelled all over Estonia.. One day we were sent to a camp – Goldfilz – where I stayed for two nights and where Hirsh Glick was imprisoned. Even in camp he was respected as a poet. When we met, the first question I asked Hirsh was: “How can I help you?”  His response was: “I need freedom.” When I replied that unfortunately I could not give him freedom, he asked me if I could by any chance give him a spoon. In camp, a spoon was a treasure. It enabled him to eat his soup, the main meal in the camp. I gave him my spoon which had a sharpened handle and which could serve as a knife.

During his captivity Hirsh continued to compose songs and poems.  His death, however, was always shrouded in mystery. The historical records state that, In July 1944, with the Soviet Army approaching, Glick escaped, that he was never heard from again, and that it was presumed he had been captured and executed by the Germans, reportedly in August 1944. However, as a volunteer at the Jewish Holocaust Centre where I record Holocaust survivors’ testimonies, I interviewed a Mr Samuel Drabkin in 1993. He told me that he and his four brothers were in the camp with Hirshka. He described to me in detail how Hirshka perished. One night, he said, while returning from work to the camp, Hirsh and his fellow prisoners, among them Samuel Drabkin and his four brothers, noticed that there was a hive of activity in the camp and the Camp Commandant was drunk. Forty prisoners, including Hirsh Glick, entered a toilet block, climbed through the window, broke through the camp’s wire enclosure and escaped.  Estonian guards fired at them, and of the 40 escapees, only 14 survived. Hirsh Glick, however, did not survive: Mr Drabkin’s brother saw him shot and killed.

It has been said that Hirsh Glick wrote the Partisans’ Song while the Warsaw Ghetto uprising was taking place. I believe, however, that the song was actually written for a specific partisan – a young Jewish partisan girl with whom Hirshke was in love. But no matter. Hirshke’s song – the Partizaner Lid – sung so long ago  by Jews in the Vilna ghetto, has become the anthem of those of us who have survived the Shoah.

Zog Nit Kein’mol – es vet a poyk ton undzer trot: mir zaynen do! “Our step beats out the message: we are here!”

80th Anniversary of the Keidan Massacre

By Aryeh Leonard Shcherbakov
Dear friends,

Since a few of our Keidaners, who do not speak Hebrew, asked me to write this report, I’m writing it this time in English. I apologize in advance to my Hebrew readers. 

This year, a number of Keidan descendants – both from Israel and the USA – intended to come to Lithuania for the 80th anniversary (August 28, 1941) of the mass slaughter of our families and the whole Jewish community of Kėdainiai. For most of them, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this appeared to be too complicated. Nevertheless, the commemoration meeting by the mass grave in Daukšiai village is already a tradition in Kėdainiai, so it took place as usual in recent years. Like back in 1941, this year also, the day of August 28 fell on Saturday. For this reason, the commemoration meeting was moved to August 29.

The last time I was standing in this Valley of Slaughter[1], on this particular commemoration day, was August 29, 1971, exactly 50 years ago, a few months before leaving Lithuania to Israel. It was also Sunday – as our parents were coming to this place once a year, on the first Sunday following August 28 (in the Soviet Union you couldn’t take a day off on any other day). At that time, we were sure that if we ever manage to leave Lithuania, we will never come back to this place. But time passed, the world map and our minds have changed, and we came to Kėdainiai again.

Thanks to the efforts of Rimantas Žirgulis, a director of the Kėdainiai Regional Museum, who actually became our spokesman and representative versus Kėdainiai district municipality, and readiness of the municipality mayor, Valentinas Tamulis, to cooperate, a few changes were made at this mass murder site and the old Jewish cemetery of Kėdainiai:

  • the memorial erected in 1957 by the generation of our parents, Holocaust survivors, was renewed
  • a new memorial plaque was installed (the controversial number of victims was removed. It was added there by the local authorities at the end of the 70s, and was based on the infamous K. Jaeger’s report, disclosed by Soviets in 1963. Since there are other testimonies, and the actual number is difficult to prove now, 80 years after the massacre, it was decided to remove the number at all). The plaque was funded by the Association of the Keidan Jews in Israel
  • the whole site was cleared, a small area around the memorial was paved and a staircase leading to the memorial was constructed
  • the fallen and inclined tombstones at the old Jewish cemetery were raised to the upright position. So, the cemetery, cleaned from weeds and wild vegetation (and freshly mowed before the commemoration day) looks now completely different

Almost 50 people participated in the commemoration.  Among them:

  • a group of people from the Kėdainiai municipality, including the vice mayor Paulius Aukštikalnis
  • a group of fellow workers from the Kėdainiai Regional museum, including its director, Rimantas Žirgulis, and a head of its Multicultural Center, Audronė Pečiulytė
  • a group of teachers and students from the Kėdainiai Atžalynas gymnasium, among them the teachers, Laima Ardavičienė and Aušra Aksomaitytė-Ščiukienė 
  • I‘m sorry not to mention all those whom I do not know yet personally, but must note, that not only people connected to the museum or municipality came to the meeting, but apparently not related people arrived as well. Thus, a young couple, Loreta and Linas Pankūnai with their teenage sons arrived with two national flags of Israel.
  • because of COVID, the Jewish representation at the commemoration was more limited: David Kagan with his daughter Talia arrived from New York, another representative of the Kagan family, Aryeh Leonard Shcherbakov with his wife Mila, came from Israel, Sender Girshovich came from Klaipeda and two representatives of Shneider family – Vitaly David and his son Igor came from Vilnius. Last, but most important, a leading singer of the Lithuanian National Opera, Rafailas Karpis, arrived from Vilnius to take part in the meeting.

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As the vast majority of participants were Lithuanians, the meeting was held – except for the prayers recited in Hebrew – in the Lithuanian language. 

Because of this, I try to translate (not literally, but so as to preserve the essence of the talks) and present here a summary of things being said.

The commemoration meeting was opened at 15:00 by Rimantas Žirgulis. He told that Kėdainiai had seen many tragedies in its history, but this mass murder which happened here 80 years ago, was undoubtedly the most horrible, bloody and brutal event in its history – when a few dozens of Kėdainiai townsmen murdered from two to more than three thousands of Kėdainiai, Šėta and Žeimiai Jews only because they were Jews. „Those people, who lived in our town for more than three hundred years, who were our neighbors, who created this town with us, built it, traded in it, bought in the same shops, who were an integral part ofKėdainiai, Šėta, and Žeimiai communities and their economic life. Because of a crazy idea of some madmen that these people have no right to live, on one single day in the course of a few hours, a few dozen of our Lithuanian fellow citizens guided by several German Nazis drove all those people to this pit – 100 meters long, 3 meters wide and 2.5 meters deep.“ 

To honor the martyrs, Rimantas declared a few minutes of silence. We knew that at that moment, other Keidaners joined us in different parts of the world.

Flowers were put on the memorial and candles were lit. 

Rimantas continued by telling that 10 years ago, on the 70th anniversary of this tragedy, when the memorial iron boards holding the names of the murdered, were erected here, a Jewish Keidan descendant, prof. Mira Sklarew from the USA participated in the commemoration.  A singer Vilma Merkytė performed then „The Songs of Orphans“. Hearing the song, Rimantas felt, that Kėdainiai became orphaned after the war. “Fortunately, out of thousands murdered, a handful of Kėdainiai Jews survived the Holocaust. Therefore today we have a possibility to be with our guests, their descendants, who came from Israel and the USA[2]. Their visit and relations we keep with them are very important for us” – said Rimantas. “Despite all the horrible things that happened here – following which some people totally cut off their ties with Lithuania and Kėdainiai – they came to participate in this commemoration together with us. Moreover, the Israel Association of Keidan Jews brought a present – a new memorial plaque, funded by them and now installed on the memorial. This memorial was erected here by Kėdainiai Holocaust survivors in 1957. It was recently renewed by the Kėdainiai municipality and the whole place around the memorial was ordered and reorganized, looking today completely different, more decent and civilized than it looked for dozens of years, and I want to thank the municipality for this.” 

 On behalf of the Israel Association of Keidaners, I tried to talk in Lithuanian, which I didn’t use for the last 50 years. Because of this and because I didn’t want to repeat things that were already said, I changed my introduction, so the talk went stumbling, but it can be approximately summarized as follows. I told that I’m glad to see that so many people gathered here. “When I came to Lithuania for the first time, 15 years ago, I saw that nothing changed here from the time I left. Nobody took care of Jewish heritage, there were almost no signs that Jews ever lived in Kėdainiai. But about 10 years ago, I’ve discovered two new friends here – Rimantas and Laima, and today, looking at the people who gathered here, I see that we have many more friends in Kėdainiai.  And this is exciting.”

“Each time, when this day approaches (and in recent years we commemorate it simultaneously in Israel and Lithuania), I recall the Hebrew saying of Passover: ‘On this day each of us must see himself as if he came out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom’. On such a day as this, on the contrary, I see myself standing among my family members and other Keidan Jews in this death pit, and with time this feeling becomes more painful. Sometimes people wonder – why to be occupied with these old memories, with those people who are dead for so many years, and nobody can help them today? Then I always recall a book, which I received as a present on my 10th birthday. The book was named ‘The Legend about Till Ulenspiegel and his Adventures’ [3]. It was written in an easy-going manner, as if for the children, and published in the children’s publishing house. But it talked also about hard things, and among others, about Till’s father, who was burnt at stake following a false denunciation by his neighbor. At night, Till sneaked to the execution place, picked up a handful of ashes of his father, and filled with it a small bag, which from that time he always carried on his chest, like a medallion. Whenever anybody started talking to him, Till’s first words were: ‘My father’s ashes are pounding on my heart’, irrelevant of the circumstances and the topic of the conversation. And this is exactly what I want to say here: ‘All these years the ashes of the murdered are pounding on my heart’, and I‘m unable to forget them.”

“I want to add that in all those years after the war, Jewish pain was totally denied by Soviet authorities. It wasdiscarded to such an extent, that the word ‘Jew’ wasn’t allowed to be written on memorials at the mass graves all over Lithuania and the Soviet Union. The same happened in Kėdainiai – ‘To the Victims of Fascist Terror’ was written there for many years. Only by the end of the 70s, a new inscription appeared, saying that Jews were murdered here.”

“Two things are important to us: acknowledgment of the Jewish suffering and pain, and preservation of Jewish memory in Kėdainiai.

Coming in recent years to Kėdainiai, I see more signs of the former Jewish presence in the city, and I want to thank all Kėdainiai people who are responsible for this. First of all – Rimantas Žirgulis from the Kėdainiai Regional Museum, then – Valentinas Tamulis, the Kėdainiai district mayor, Audrone Pečiulytė from theKėdainiai Regional Museum and Laima Ardavičienė from the Kėdainiai Atžalynas gymnasium for their most important educational activity – so that the young Kėdainiai generation knew that other people also lived once in this town, that they were innocently murdered, and that such atrocities should never happen again in the future.“

Finally, according to the old Jewish tradition, I recited psalms and El Male Rachamim to those lying in the common grave.  

The vice mayor of Kėdainai, Paulius Aukštikalnis, greeted all those who came for the commemoration. He told that it is very difficult to talk on such occasions, to find proper words for such tragedy. “This is mainly done by historians. The birch tree by the memorial with an iron rod of the fence passing through its trunk symbolizes brothers and sisters who fell into this pit when lead bullets pierced their hearts. Such tragedy is like a severe burn for a human being. We must always remember this. The second tragedy would be to forget such events. So, we must thank people like Rimantas, Audrone, and other members of this community who do not allow us to forget, who each year remind us of what had happened here, and who organize such commemorations. We will not have proper knowledge of how to create a future without remembering the painful events that burnt us. Forgetting history can lead us to great errors. Although 80 years passed and the blood is soaked deep in this ground, remembering this event is very important to all of us. Politicians should be brought to such places and shown that such things should not happen. Such gatherings and sincere discussions will only strengthen us as a society and allow us to proceed further into the future. You, Rimantas, don’t have to thank the municipality for upgrading this place, but we must thank you for telling us what should be done – so that the history will not disappear. I wish all of us to leave this place remembering what had happened here and reminding the young generation what shouldn’t be done. Only in this way, we will not destroy ourselves.”

Rafailas Karpis concluded the meeting with a breathtaking performance of Kaddish.  

 

An hour later, being accompanied by Darius Mažintas (piano), he gave a beautiful concert of Yiddish songs in the Town Hall of Kėdainiai. This was one of the best performances of Yiddish songs (in clear Lithuanian Yiddish) I ever heard. 

To get an impression of the event, here’s a link to a set of photographs:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/hdc44o9gh5eTjSLE9

The following report was broadcast the same day during the evening news on Balticum TV – the cable channel covering the whole Kėdainiai district:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_fXYM0RtWI 

It includes excerpts of short interviews, given separately by Rimantas and me before the event. Although, for those who do not speak Lithuanian, there is a problem…

As a continuation of this memorable day, on September 17, 2021, another event took place in Kėdainiai: “The Road of the Memory 1941-2021”. It was a part of the similar commemoration events in several other small and large towns of Lithuania – marking the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania in 1941, when almost the whole Lithuanian Jewish population was brutally annihilated in the course of a few summer and autumn months.

It included a memory march, starting in the park (the former estate, where Jews were kept for almost two weeks before their bitter end) and walking to the slaughter place at Daukšiai village, where the commemoration meeting took place.

In addition to our Kėdainiai friends, who already participated in the commemoration of August 29, Tomas Bičiūnas a member of the Lithuanian parliament from Kėdainiai, Ronaldas Račinskas, from Vilnius, a chairman of the international commission for evaluation of crimes of the Nazi and Soviet occupation regimes in Lithuania, Gercas Žakas, a chairman of the Kaunas Jewish community, and several new other people joined the march. Children from the six Kėdainiai schools (one class from each school) were invited as well. The weather was cold and very windy. It was raining the night before, so part of the road was muddy and slippery. Still nobody complaint. Somebody said: “our inconvenience because of the weather is nothing compared to what suffered Jews walking their last road”. One of the large posters had the following text: “We love the Jewish people. We are in pain because of the Holocaust”.

The commemoration meeting took place by the mass grave. Borisas Kiržneris played violin. Israel ambassador to Lithuania, Yossi Levy, and a cultural attaché of the Federal Republic of Germany, Anja Luther, came from Vilnius to take part in the event:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/xoudCe3ZQRxuruvv5 

————————————————————- 

A few days ago we received a new present from Laima Ardavičienė and her students.  

In recent years, the Lithuanian Radio and Television (LRT) authority created a series of documentaries about Lithuanian towns and shtetls and their lost Jewish communities.  

The layout of all these documentaries is similar – two young people are walking around the town, discussing various aspects of its Jewish history. 

One of these documentaries was about Kėdainiai.  Unfortunately, there were no English subtitles. In the last months, Laima and her students worked hard to dub this documentary into English. Here you have a result of their work: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv0X25bOJ4Y 

With best regards,
Aryeh Leonard Shcherbakov
a secretary of the Association of the Keidan Jews in Israel
0527-909-743

[1] Jeremiah 7:32 

[2] In fact, a few descendants from Lithuania participated in the meeting as well, but we didn’t know that at that moment. 

[3] More precisely: “The Legend about Till Ulespiegel and Lamme Goedzak and their Adventures Heroical, Joyous and Glorious in the Land of Flanders and Elsewhere” was authored by a Flemish writer, Charles de Coster in 1867. Published in Russian in 1956, the book described the Flemish struggle against Spanish oppressors in the 16th century. The atmosphere in the country (Holland) strikingly resembled the one in the Soviet Union under the iron fist of the KGB. It’s a miracle that the book was published there at that time.  

KehilaLink:

https://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/kedainiai

Aryeh Leonard Shcherbakov

Muizenberg Memories

Muizenberg Memories

By Marlene Davis Stanger
My mom, Pearl Davis, at her engagement party to my dad, with her parents, Esther Bryna (nee Friedman, from Zemelis, Lithuania) and Morris Herman (Moshe Zelig Woznica) from Poland
Abe & Pearl Davis Wedding 1948
Muizenberg kids at Betar meeting with Madrichim David Lazarus and Alan Pick. I am in pigtails with hand at heart
Marlene with friend Gillian Mansfield on left and the late Clem Stoltz on right. Taken lunch time one summer while working at Tockar’s pharmacy
Muizenberg memories
Marleme with Eunice Baartman on a picnic in Simonstown
Muizenberg Corner stone steps
With Dr Stan Davis St James Beach on one of regular Mzb to Kalk Bay walks whenever there
Dad – Abe Davis at “Stanette”
Dad & Sister
The six Davis grandchildren on the wall at Stanette , Windermere Rd, Muizenberg. Two Davis girls, two Stanger boys and two Simantov boys.
The Muizenberg KehilaLink:

managed by Eli Rabinowitz

eli@elirab.com

A Fairy Tale Of Two Cities

In memory of my parents

By Marlene Davis Stanger

This story is written as a tribute to my late parents, Abe and Pearl Davis, who lived in Muizenberg for 56 years before moving to Highlands House, Oranjezicht, in 2005. Abe passed away October 22, 2007 aged 94 – less than a mile from where he was born – and Pearl passed away on July 24, 2016, aged 92.

My granny, Mrs. Esther Bryna Herman, from Malvern by way of Vilnius, had a friend called Sonya Blechman.  My dad, born at 2 Prince Street, Gardens, had an aunt called Tilly Josman.   Mrs. Blechman told her friend, Aunty Tilly, about the beautiful daughter of her friend and Aunty Tilly thought, “Ahh, time for my nephew Abie to settle down…enough of the post-war gallivanting…”  So next time Abie was up in Joburg – Roodepoort to be exact, to see the relatives – Aunty Tilly invited Mr. and Mrs. Herman and the Blechman’s and Pearl came along too.

Abie was smitten. The blond, blue eyed, water-polo playing Davis boy could not stop thinking of the dark-haired, tall, thin and elegant Pearl and when he got home to Cape Town, he wrote her a letter.  It was written on thin, air-mail paper on two pages on the letterhead of his brother, Simon’s company that was simply called Simon Davis.  But he had crossed out the name Simon and replaced it with Abe.

It was a love letter and said he believed they could have a happy life together. An engagement followed and Pearl, an only child, flew down to Cape Town to meet the Davis family.  She wore a new white suit and a new stylish hat but by the time she arrived, air-sick and disheveled, she felt anything but stylish. Abe brought her to the family home at 7 Marais Road, Sea Point.  There she met “Mother” (Chaya Itil “Annie” nee Josman) and “Father” (Hyman Davis formerly Melnick in the old country prior to telling Cape Town customs that his name was Chaim Dovid….).  This is how the Davis children referred to their Yiddish speaking parents.  The children consisted of Abe and his siblings, who were Simon, Louis, Issy, Ethel, Harry, Alfred and Lily.  Pearl was welcomed into the fold and soon found out about the gregarious, sporty, movie loving boys – all fast eaters –  and the sisters, the older one sassy and irreverent and the baby, sweet and adored.

The wedding took place at Marais Road shul and Pearl and Abe had to decide where they wanted to settle down – Camps Bay, where brother Alfred and his wife Rae (nee Katzeff), had set up home, or Muizenberg, where Simon and Rose and Issy and Rose lived.  Muizenberg it was. 1948 – what a year!  As Hedy no-relation-Davis aptly stated, veritable Shtetl by the Sea.  They moved to Clevedon Cottage in Clevedon Road and had their first baby, Stan, in 1949.  The following year they moved to Windermere Road and in 1951, baby number two, Annette was born.  They named their house “Stanette.”

I came along in 1954.  And what do I remember?  I will first of all say that Bobba Bryna Herman was living with us by that time, since Morris Zelig (after whom I was named Marlene “Masha” Zelda) had passed away suddenly while on holiday in Muizenberg a few years before.  I remember the promenade walks on summer nights, the ice-creams at the Milk Bar in the pavilion, the Sunday trips to Mr. Raad’s café for toffee apples and Tex bars, the egg-salad sandwiches at Sunrise beach on balmy February evenings when we all went swimming after dad came home from work, the Kushners next door, playing in the park across the road from shul, playing at the park near the vlei, playing marbles on the field next to the Liebrecht’s house – all under the loving protection of Abe and Pearl, and of course, Bobba.  There were the Sunday drives through Tokai, stopping to buy Hanepoort grapes when in season, to see Zayda in Sea Point and have tea with the extended Davis family.  The large dining room table surrounded by uncles, aunts and first cousins.

By then, my dad had his own business importing home wares from China and traveling on sales trips.  He had a driver, Courtman, who taught me Xhosa and who named his firstborn Stanley.  Then Abe’s fortune changed and he lost the business.  I remember the anxious day when a man came to meet with my parents to talk about the insurance business.  He was with Sun Life of Canada. My dad joined them and continued through to Liberty Life, leaving only in his 80’s.  The young staff by that time called him Uncle Abie.  My mom got a job as well. I was six.  She was secretary at Floyd and Emery, prominent architects in their day.  Zayda (my dad’s “Father”) died round that time as well. His tailor shop, Davis and Stevens, on Long Street, purveyors of fine cloth and excellent taste, had the distinction of making the graduation gown for Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) when she received her honorary Doctor of Laws degree from UCT in April, 1947.  He also rode a Harley with a side car and was the tall, handsome patriarch, rocking in the chair at 7 Marais Road, always dressed impeccably with his pocket watch an object of fascination for all the grandkids.

School, cheder, the beach, the freedom to play, catching the train to town on a 21c ticket to go to lunch at Garlicks and a movie and still having change from R1, and the knowledge that the world had an order defined by a fine moral compass and the love of family. It was a village. It took a village.

Then there was the music.  Dan Hill and his orchestra, Frank Sinatra, Buddy Holly, always music.  And standing in my parent’s room at my mom’s dressing table watching her get dressed to go dancing with my dad on a Saturday night.  The beautiful brocade dress with roses on the waist sash, the purple satin dress with the built in petticoat, the impossibly small waistline… I learnt about perfume behind your ears and on your wrists…

Into the teens.  Socials at the Herzl Hall in Wherry Road. How embarrassing for me that my dad and others on the shul committee who had organized the event were in the kitchen selling Fanta, Coke and Bar Ones…didn’t want him to see me slow dancing with Joburg and Durban boys in Muizies for the season.  Bands were Shag and Jimmy Retief and the Idiots.  Jimmy used to play the guitar with his teeth…

My mom always had an expanding Shabbat table.  When my dad came home from shul, we never knew how many Navy boys he would bring with him on a Friday night.  Another incentive to look nice for Shabbat! My mom also had a remarkable, expanded vocabulary and I called her my walking dictionary.  She graduated from Jeppe Girls’ High and her leather bound prize books which I cherish attest to her brilliance. First in Latin, First in Math, First in class.  She could have been a doctor like her Reichman cousins in Joburg, but instead she learned to type.

Baking, collecting rummage, organizing meetings – always involved in the community.  My dad, shul chairman or president for as long as I can remember.  Both life members of the shul.  Charity and acts of loving kindness were part of the fabric of my home, with early lessons about helping others very clearly imprinted in my mind.

Overall, we made one another happy and laughed so much.  I watched Monty Python with my mom at the Empire and by the time the opening credits for And Now For Something Completely Different came on the screen, we were already in tears from laughing so much.  I learned about fun and laughter, music and dancing, from my parents. I learned about reading voraciously and hard work, from my parents. I learned about faith and loyalty and relationships from my parents.  When Stan, Netty and I remember our father, we go : “He he he” (the e like staccato air without the r.)  We learned about happiness and contentment, the riches of good family relationships, from him.

I cannot even begin to tell the whole story of who they were and what they meant to me and those who knew them. My beloved parents, village elders who held the community in their hearts.  Both in Muizenberg where they lived their halcyon years and at Highlands House where they lived their final years, together there for a short time and now together again. Joburg girl and Cape Town boy with Muizenberg their medina.

So when I walk on the beach in Del Mar or Torrey Pines and I wear the floppy hats I brought home with me after burying darling Pearl next to her Abe, I will think of those who wore the hats before me on the sands of Muizies and walk tall and happy knowing that their spirits are both alive and flowing in me.  The music, dancing, fun and reading, learning, working and giving will continue.

Wherever you may be, Mrs. Blechman and Aunty Tilly – thank you for the great mitzvah.

With love,

Marlene

https://stanger-immigration.com/

The Muizenberg KehilaLink:

managed by Eli Rabinowitz

eli@elirab.com

The World Belongs To Me

N E W  M U S I C A L  T H E A T R E  P R O D U C T I O N ,

T H E  H O L L O W  C A U S E ,  R E L E A S E S   O F F I C I A L  S I N G L E :

“ T H E  W O R L D  B E L O N G S  T O  M E . ”

The Hollow Cause cast teamed up with The West Coast Philharmonic Orchestra to perform “The World Belongs to Me”–the first song release from the upcoming musical, The Hollow Cause. Filmed at The Perth Hebrew Congregation, the clip features the dynamic and powerful voices of Vin Trikeriotis (Jesus Christ Superstar) and Morgan Cowling (Phantom of the Opera USA Tour), singing a love ballad between two headstrong main characters that allow themselves to become gradually more vulnerable as the song progresses. 

The West Coast Philharmonic Orchestra’s conductor, Sam Parry, became involved when The Hollow Cause musical production creator, Keshet, reached out simply for professional revision. Parry was so impressed with the quality and freshness of the music that he suggested a collaboration between the stage musical and The West Coast Philharmonic Orchestra. 

When asked about the selection of the largest WA synagogue, The Perth Hebrew Congregation, as the choice for the video clip setting creator Keshet responded; 

“Our location was selected for two reasons: 

1) Orchestral music tends to be recorded in big halls, and churches are quite a popular choice but recording in Synagogues is not something that is explored much. The Synagogue provided unique acoustics for our song recording. 2) The Hollow Cause is a Jewish tale of surviving during the Holocaust. We felt that recording in a Jewish sacred place, coupled with the fact the stage we performed on was donated by an Auschwitz survivor, created an amazing connection to the music we generated.” 

The official clip is being released  today, 21 May 2021

The World Belongs to Me – The Hollow Cause Cast feat. The West Coast Philharmonic Orchestra

The World Belongs to Me – The Hollow Cause Cast feat. The West Coast Philharmonic Orchestra

The cast of The Hollow Cause and The West Coast Philharmonic Orchestra have united to capture “The World Belongs to Me”; performed at the historic Perth Hebr…

VIDEO – Source: youtu.be/-zo0hblniTA

The song will also be available from May 21st on all streaming platforms, including BandCamp. 

CONTACT 

For more information please email hollowcauseopera@gmail.com

Eli Rabinowitz

eli@elirab.com

The Perth KehilaLink

 

Ray @ 102 Colorized

Celebrating what would have been my mother Raele (Ray) Zeldin Rabinowitz’s 102 birthday. Ray was born on 11 May 1919 in Dvinsk, now Daugavpils, Latvia.

These colour photos were originally in b/w. I used MyHeritage.com’s Colorized to bring them to life!

 

  

The photos below are in their original colour.

Ray passed away on 24 July 2001 in Cape Town.

The last photo