26 April 2019 - 21 Nisan 5779 - כ"א ניסן ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Jewish philanthropist receives Australia’s highest honour Print E-mail

Australian Jewish philanthropist Pauline Gandel received the country’s top honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia, in January.

The award is equivalent to a knighthood in the UK, and honours Gandel’s support for the arts, education and Jewish causes. Gandel’s husband John received the same award in 2017. The Melbourne-based couple is one of Australia’s most prolific benefactors to both the secular and Jewish communities. Gandel Philanthropy has distributed over US$100 million to charitable causes since 1978. Beneficiary organisations have included Keren Hayesod, Yad Vashem and Tel Aviv University. Among the few other married couples who have received the award have been opera singer Joan Sutherland and her husband, the conductor Richard Bonynge.

The annual honours are announced on 26 January, which marks Australia Day.

(Issue Mar 2019)

Much-loved Israeli-born giraffe at Singapore Zoo dies while giving birth E-mail

One of the Singapore Zoo’s resident giraffes died while giving birth on 5 February, despite the efforts of the zoo’s veterinarians to save her. The calf also died.

Lucy, a 14-year-old giraffe originally from The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Israel, was confirmed to be pregnant with her first calf in April 2018. A giraffe’s gestation period is about 15 months, and Lucy had been expected to give birth in January.

However a Facebook post by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) on 4 February said: “Lucy went into labour over the weekend. We were hoping to share some joyful baby news, but things are not going smoothly for our firsttime mum. Lucy’s care team, consisting of keepers and vets, are monitoring her around the clock and assisting her with medication to help her deliver.”

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Chiune Sugihara honoured as a saviour of Yeshiva students E-mail

During an event commemorating International Remembrance Day in January at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Chiune Sugihara was posthumously honoured at a ceremony in a joint initiative of the IsraelClaims Conference and Limmud FSU, an international Jewish education organisation.

The event honoured the man who saved so many – close to 6,000 Jews – an act that has been officially recognised and honoured. In an attendance was his son Nabuki Sugihara, who said: “He saw human beings in danger and he decided to help them.”

Chiune Sugihara was the Japanese vice consul in Lithuania during WWII, issued visas to Lithuanian Jews for transit through Japan, saving thousands in the process. Then an independent state, Lithuania was overtaken by the Nazis, who began their policy of transferring Jews to the death camps.

Sugihara, who, according to his son, knew practically nothing about the Jews and their history, felt he couldn’t just ignore what he saw. “He saw on the first day 20 people, Jews, standing in front of his office, waiting for a sign to get some help,” recalled the son. “On the following day, they were 30, and then 40 and so on. He just couldn’t stay there and do nothing.”

Nabuki revealed that his father, who died in 1986, never spoke about what happened when he was consul, but that “today it is known in Japan, his action is told, more people know and learn about it.”

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French national rail company to build a Holocaust museum at station E-mail

The French national rail company SNCF has announced that it has allocated US$2.3 million towards the creation of a Holocaust museum at one of its abandoned train stations.

The museum is scheduled to open in 2020 at the former Pithiviers station in eastern France. The first concentration camp in Nazi-occupied France, Pithiviers station predated the most infamous deportations of French Jews and the murder of Jews en masse in Auschwitz. CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, will be a partner in designing the museum, the France Info news website reported.

With SNCF’s logistical support, some 16,000 Jews were sent to be murdered in death camps from Pithiviers station and the neighbouring camp of Beaune-la-Rolande in eight transports between 1941 and 1943.

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More tourists from Myanmar welcome to the Holy Land Print E-mail

The Israel Tourism Festival, held at the Novotel Hotel in Yangon, Myanmar, on 13 February, aimed to encourage tourists from Myanmar to visit the country.

Israel’s embassy in Myanmar was involved in organising the Festival. At the event, Israel’s Ambassador to Myanmar Ronen Gilor said: “Today is a celebration of the Israeli tourism industry. Tourism is very important. Israel opened its embassy in Yangon to bridge the relationship between the two countries and two peoples.” Israel, which has tight visa rules, is currently negotiating with the Myanmar Government to encourage tourism.

“With the different landscapes, Jerusalem is in fact a huge museum, a history of the Middle East, its culture and economics,” the ambassador added. Currently only a few tourists from Myanmar visit Israel, and it costs over US$10,000 for each traveller. According to tourism operators in Myanmar, most tourists from Myanmar visit Israel on a religious tour, usually as part of a package tour that includes Egypt and Jordan.

(Issue Mar 2019)

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