From the ASPJ President

Shalom, dzień dobry and welcome to our first edition of Haynt for 2024.

Although we had high hopes in our prior Rosh Hashana/Jewish New Year edition in September last year, for an upcoming happy & peaceful period for all. Little did we know what was about to occur. And now six months later, we are still  very much living with the ongoing trauma of the 7th October massacre in Israel and the subsequent war, with all its tragic challenges, consequences and losses, for the release of the hostages and elimination of the threat of further violence.

The accompanying surge in antisemitism, both overt and perhaps, more sinister, covert, here in Australia and throughout the world has been unexpected and shocking for many. Unfortunately, the ASPJ itself has not been immune with some members being subjected to doxing and public vilification. As we are all aware this increased social tension has caused much strain on interfaith and multicultural engagement between sections of the Australian community.

However, most pleasingly, at our November 2023 function, Polmission: Passports’s Secrets, the ASPJ was honoured to have the newly-appointed Ambassador of the Republic of Poland His Excellency, Mr Maciej Chmieliński, together
with the First Secretary of the Embassy, Mr Łukasz Graban, attend. We were also very pleased to host Consuls from twelve countries, whose attendance was very much appreciated as an expression of support for Israel and the local Jewish community.

The ASPJ also had the opportunity to meet Ambassador Benjamin Hayes prior to his deployment to Warsaw in late January 2024 as Australian Ambassador to Poland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania. The ASPJ also thanks the previous Ambassador Lloyd Brodrick for his contribution since 2019, particularly for his care and sensitivity towards Polish-Jewish relations and the great friendship extended to the ASPJ throughout his term.

Pleasingly, in March 2024, the ASPJ hosted a webinar, organised by Estelle Rozinski of our NSW branch, entitled “Unsent Postcards: Last Signs of Life from Lodz Ghetto”. Thus far, this webinar has been viewed over 500 times on our Facebook & YouTube platforms – which is an excellent response and shows the large potential reach of the ASPJ.

The ASPJ’s Statement of Purpose is “To preserve and promote the historical and cultural heritage of Jewish life in Poland and to foster understanding between current and future generations of the Polish and Jewish communities”.

The ASPJ Board is busy finalising an eclectic range of further high-class functions and events for the remainder of 2024, which that align with the full spectrum of the historical and cultural heritage of Jewish life in Poland and engaging with the Polish community.

As we are about to celebrate the festival of Pesach (Passover), one can only hope that, globally and individually, we all experience its central themes of liberation and& freedom. We now also stand on the precipice of periods of reflection and gratitude in the calendar. In the coming weeks, we have Yom Ha’Shoah (Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day) and, in the following week, Yom Ha’Zikaron (Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror),  immediately followed by Yom Ha’Atzamut (Israel Independence Day). Also, in Australia, we commemorate ANZAC Day.

All of these days should cause us to pause and reflect not only on the tremendous debt we owe for the sacrifice of so many of the generations before us to ensure that people, all peoples, can live today in peace, friendship and tolerance. But on the terrible suffering and devastation that can result when we do not.

It is our fervent hope that Australia will remain the welcoming land of opportunity – a country of religious freedom and protection, where people and communities of different religions, race, ethnicities all live together, without hate or fear in a vibrant, prosperous multicultural community that benefits us all.

Enjoy this latest edition of HAYNT and our thanks to our editor Izi Marmur for all his effort in producing yet another excellent edition.

Ezra May,

President, ASPJ.