Educators Israel-bound for Holocaust studies
MELBOURNE – School and university teachers from across Australia are setting off
for Israel to take part in an intensive course designed to broaden their knowledge of the Shoah.
The members of the 20-strong delegation are participants in the inaugural Gandel Holocaust
Studies Program for Australian Educators.
Conducted by the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem, the
initiative is a long-term course to educate and mentor the group, beginning with an intensive training seminar in Israel, followed by a year-long program back home.
“This is an extremely important initiative and we are delighted to be involved,” John Gandel said upon announcing the successful scholarship recipients.
“The participants will come home to intensify and broaden their study of the Holocaust in their work and to raise awareness of the Holocaust within their communities. We believe their visit to Israel and attendance at the Yad Vashem course will be a highlight of their professional careers and their life in general.”
The Gandel Charitable Trust has provided scholarships for 10 educators, with Yad Vashem sponsoring a further 10 people.
The director of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, Dorit Novak,
said that the group of Australians would become a part of a “cadre” of educators from around the world with “the knowledge and tools for meaningful Holocaust education”.
They would also become a part of a worldwide network able to share and exchange information about Holocaust education initiatives.
“The Holocaust is a part of the shared identity of our civilisation - certainly part of our
shared identity as Jews, but also part of the shared identity of our modern civilisation,” she said.
“Educators are in the unique position to be a part of building and strengthening the shared
values that underpin our civilisation and that were undermined during the Holocaust, and can infuse it with meaning when transmitting it to their students.”
According to Novak, the Gandel Holocaust Studies Program will also enable a meaningful, long-term relationship between Australia and Yad Vashem.
“Yad Vashem has worked with Australian educators in the past, but the new Gandel program will transform periodic seminars into a comprehensive, sustainable program.
With Australia expected to mandate Holocaust education in the schools beginning in 2011, this project is perfectly timed to prepare educators to meet the challenges of meaningful, multidisciplinary Holocaust education in the new century.”
Student web site bans anti-Israel group
SYDNEY – A popular student website has banned an anti-Israel group from using its
site after a spate of anti-Semitic postings were uncovered last week.
The comments were published under a group registered as “BoS anti-Israel League” on the
Sydney-based site, www.boredofstudies.org, which in recent years has become a well-known resource hub for students sitting their HSC exams.
Among the threads was a post about finding synagogues in Sydney and featured information on how to make a Molotov cocktail. Another thread, titled “F- Israel”, included a posting from a blogger, which read: “Kill all da f-ing Jews . f-ing hate every single one of them . I hope Iran nukes them big time.”
Deenu Rajaratnam, a spokesperson for the site, this week said he was alerted to the offensive material on December 16 and immediately moved to delete it and ban the group from its site. He has also spoken with moderators and taken steps to tighten their surveillance.
“Obviously, we don’t endorse anything of that nature,” he said. “It’s not something we think is acceptable.”
“It was a good wake-up call,” he added. “It’s the first time that it has happened. We’ve decided to be a lot more serious about action and pay more attention to it.”
Further investigation however, uncovered additional anti-Semitic comments and postings that had not yet been removed.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff, who originally brought the material to the
publisher’s attention, applauded their quick action, but said “it is clear that vigilance is needed”.
“It was unfortunate that a respected forum, which is designed to assist students with their
studies, could be hacked into by people with a racist agenda,” he said.
He also called on other internet publishers to be more vigilant. “All publishers should exercise care to prevent such damaging material appearing on their sites and to remove it immediately if it appears.”
Liberal leader calls on action against racist web sites
SYDNEY – New South Wales Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell has called for a review of
laws in all states to combat racial vilification on social networking and blog websites.
“We must ensure that the laws are up to date,” he told Jewish leaders gathered at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s annual meeting last week.
“Unless we’re conscious of the threat and adapt those laws to meet the varied ways in which
vilification can be pursued in this age, we will fail those who rely on us.”
O’Farrell’s comments came immediately after a report, released at the same conference,
indicated anti-Jewish propaganda in fringe publications and from extremist organisations remains an “ongoing concern”.
Earlier this year, O’Farrell called on Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard to take a stance
against anti-Israel messages posted on the taxpayer-funded blog Khaldoun, which is run by
academic staff at Sydney’s Macquarie University.
So far, however, no action has been taken, and the site continues to operate without any review.
O’Farrell said it was an ongoing dispute and content on such sites was “just as evil today .
as it was in 1938 in those dark days in Europe”.
O’Farrell appeared at the conference as a last-minute replacement for former federal
Liberal head Malcolm Turnbull, who was forced to remain in Canberra longer than expected.
The embattled leader was ultimately ousted by Tony Abbott in a party room ballot.
O’Farrell reassured the audience that Australian Jewry and its interests wouldn’t suffer under a new leader.
“The Jewish community doesn’t lose because [the leaders of the] Liberal Party are strong friends of Israel and supporters of the Jewish community,” he said.
In that same spirit, he reaffirmed his own support for the State of Israel.
“Until we see those who oppose the legitimacy of the State of Israel and understand the only
solution is a two-state solution, there is frankly no great optimism that can be held as to
what’s happening in the Middle East,” he added.
Reviewing a Yiddish Holocaust story
MELBOURNE – Documentary The Sleeping Book, about the translation of a book first
published by a Holocaust survivor in 1948, was shown on ABC-TV’s Compass on Sunday.
It tells of Melbourne ophthalmologist Henry Lew’s mission to revive a story written by Rafael Rajzner that meticulously described Bialystok, its 60,000 Jewish residents and their destruction by the Nazis.
The Sleeping Book follows Lew’s quest to have Rajzner’s work translated from its original
Yiddish into English - with the title The Stories our Parents Found too Painful to Tell - in no conventional manner.
Lew appealed to the international Yiddish speaking community, sending 10 pages to people in countries all over the world.
What resulted was the translation of a true story that began in Poland almost 70 years ago, quietly landed in Melbourne for 60 years before taking off around the world from New York to Canada.
Young Soccer star aims high
CANBERRA – Six months ago, Steve Solomon was the lightning-quick skipper of
Australia’s junior Maccabiah football side, who did a bit of sprinting on the side at school.
Now, after blitzing all before him in the state and national school athletic championships, the 16-year-old has been scouted by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).
He will train in Canberra during his school break, before spending the year in Athletics
Australia’s under-19 talent squad in Sydney.
Having been hand-picked by the sport’s roof body, Solomon now has his eyes firmly on the track, and aims “to represent my country, hopefully at the Rio Olympics”.
The meteoric shift from soccer enthusiast to Olympic sprint aspirant comes on the back of a phenomenal athletics season.
Representing the Cranbrook School, Solomon won the long jump and broke the Combined Associated Schools’ (CAS) longstanding 200-metre record, while also setting a new best in the 400-metre event.
He began turning heads when he went to the NSW State Championships and broke the 400-metre hurdles record in his first attempt at the race, while also winning the 400-metre flat race.
He collected another booty of gold representing NSW at the Australian All Schools in Hobart, winning his pet 400-metre event in the under-17 division, while also collecting a win in the 4×400-metre relay. In just his third hurdles race, he was pipped on the line to claim silver.
Solomon will now enjoy the benefit of the AIS’ resources - an exciting proposition given that
he has hardly trained beyond his school’s seasonal athletics program and runs a personal
best of 48.32 over 400 metres, and 53.70 in the 400-metre hurdles event.
“I’m completely open-minded to it and willing to give everything a go to see how far I can take it,” Solomon enthused.
“I’ve always been running, but this year everything has fallen into place. I was quietly
confident, only because I knew I’d beaten the other competitors before, but was very surprised at the same time - particularly with the hurdles. It was only my third hurdles race.”
So near and yet so far
MELBOURNE– The Maccabi AJAX First XI fell agonisingly short of victory with Cheltenham
clinching the win with just two wickets in hand.
A brilliant bowling performance from skipper Dave Gelbart, who snared 4-37 from his 24 overs - including a staggering 12 maidens - wasn’t enough to get the Firsts across the line in the last game before the break on December 19.
All-rounder David Fayman (2-20) was the only other multiple wicket-taker.
In a thrilling finish to the hard-fought contest in Melbourne, the Firsts needed three wickets, while Cheltenham needed 15 runs.
Gelbart got the breakthrough for his side, but it was the visitors that prevailed with a stubborn ninth-wicket stand that went on to post 42 runs.
Cheltenham resumed on 3-23, needing 135 for victory. A wicket to Gelbart and a freakish catch to David Majtlis, which rebounded off a close infielder, lifted the home side. Fayman then snared two wickets in an over to have Cheltenham reeling at 6-69.
Majtlis had another wicket just after the lunchbreak, but it wasn’t to be for the Firsts,
which could only watch as Cheltenham went on to register 169.
With 27 overs left in the day, Rowan Bricker showed class and resolve with an unbeaten 32, as the Maccabi AJAX side finished on 5-85.
The Second XI suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Cheltenham, losing outright. Having
already conceded first-innings points on day one, after being dismissed for a paltry 75, the side followed up with an even worse performance in its second dig, posting just 66.
Darren Bloch (31) and Jason Webb (13) looked solid early, progressing the score to 2-40, but Webb’s wicket sparked a collapse from which the side never emerged.
The Seconds needed to dismiss their opposition for under 54 runs to get the points, but
Cheltenham, needed just 16 overs to record a massive win.
The Third XI secured a convincing home win against McKinnon. Resuming at 3-71 and needing just 37 more runs to win, the Thirds passed the required score and kicked on to a healthy 7-181 before declaring for a chance at an outright win. The visitors saw out the day on 4-73.
The Fourth XI crashed to an outright defeat at McKinnon. With a lead of 101, McKinnon declared at the start of the day and managed to bowl the Fourths out for 103. Adam Wiser (20) and Tim Fone (18) were the standout performers with the bat.
In its second innings, McKinnon chased down the three runs required for outright victory.
Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World