EIGHTEEN Australian Jews had a right royal reason to celebrate this week after being named among almost 500 Australians to be honoured on the Queen’s birthday.
From service to medicine, business, the arts and the Jewish community, the honours ranged from Australia’s highest civic honour, the Companion of the Order (AC), awarded to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel to Officer of the Order (AO) awarded to Chief Judge of the County Court of Victoria Justice Michael Rozenes.
Among the Jewish recipients of the Member of the Order (AM), was inaugural president of the Council of Orthodox Synagogues and founder of kosher Meals on Wheels, Dr Saul Weiner, who received the honour for his pioneering work in the field of anti venoms. The 86-year-old told The AJN he’s just pleased he’s been able to give something back to the country that gave him a home.
“I was very elated about receiving such an honour from the Queen,” he said. “But I was just happy that I managed to do something in my active life to pay back the Australian people for giving me refuge in this country.”
Also receiving an AM was former NSW Board of Deputies president David Knoll who, having embarked on his communal involvement while still a student, has dedicated three decades of his life to Australian Jewry.
“I am very please and quite honoured,” he said. Knoll received the honour in recognition of his service to Australian Jewry through a range of peak, religious and educational organisations, and for the promotion of interfaith relations.
Similarly, Dr Ron Weiser received an AM for his service to the community through leadership roles with the Zionist Federation of Australia and the promotion and development of Australia-Israeli relations.
“It gave me a great buzz and I’m honoured to receive the award because the things I did just seemed like something anyone would do in the role,” Weiser said, insisting that his honour belongs as much to those he worked with as to himself.
Justice Linda Dessau, Dr Gene Sherman and Dr Alex Wodak rounded out the Jewish member of the order recipients.
A further 10 Jews were awarded a Medal of the Order (OAM), among them, Jonah “John”¬† Goldman¬† who “felt humbled and more than surprised” to have received the award.
Currently vice president of the Brisbane Hebrew Congregation, the grandfather of four has been a volunteer with the Brisbane Chevra Kadisha since 1974, and has also served as director of the Maccabi National Carnival Committee, treasurer of the B’nai B’rith Youth Association and as a committee member of the Jewish National Fund and the United Israel Appeal.
Despite his contributions to various Jewish organisations, the modest 64-year-old says he doesn’t feel worthy of the honour, which he received for his ongoing service to the community.
“It’s easy to accept the award, but somebody has gone to trouble to nominate me. They’ve done a lot of work, so they deserve it,” Goldman told The AJN.
After decades of community involvement and philanthropic contributions, Sydney community stalwart Barry Smorgon was also recognised with an OAM. The Maccabi Australia chairman and board member was honoured for his service to the community, particularly through the Jewish sporting organisation, and to the business arena in general.
“It’s a lovely honour. You don’t do volunteer work to be recognised but it is very gratifying to be honoured,” he told The AJN.
Similarly, Pauline Rockman was recognised for service to the community, particularly through Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre where she is president. She described the honour as “humbling”.
“I feel proud to be an Australian, proud to be a Jew and proud to be a woman,” she told The AJN. “It’s a wonderful sense of recognition. I have done the work because I’ve been passionate about it, never for the recognition.”
Other OAM recipients were Dr Onn Ben-David, Sandra Benjamin, Michael Cohen, Noel Levin, ¬†Jerome “Jock”¬†Levy, Dr Harry Mond and Ivan Visontay,
WITH JOSHUA LEVI AND CASSILEE KAHN AND DALIA SABLE