Menorah Awards honour volunteers

From left: Dr Peter Schiff OAM (chairman of the Menorah Awards committee), Bev Gelbart, Hilda Rosner, Leonid Shvartsman, Iain Messer, and Faye Haskin-Dubrowin (B’nai B’rith Victoria president). Photo by Dr Paul Gardner.

THE annual B’nai B’rith Victoria Menorah Awards have been presented to four members of the Jewish community, acknowledging their longstanding commitment to volunteering.

Hilda Rosner has been volunteering at the Lamm Library every Monday for 21 years, and has also given of her time to communal organisations including Hatzolah, Magen David Adom (MDA) and JNF.

She said she was “humbled and excited” to receive a Menorah Award.

“I was taken by surprise because I just do it for the labour of love,” Rosner, who is in her 80s, told The AJN.

“I’m happy to do volunteer work while I’m able to. It’s a real privilege because I’m really the beneficiary. I get a lot out of it.”

Iain Messer similarly said he was “chuffed” to receive the accolade.

Messer’s voluntary work has been both within and outside of the Jewish community. He has longstanding roles at the Boroondara Volunteer Resource Centre and Melbourne Tourism, while he is a former president of B’nai B’rith and has served its Courage to Care program for approximately 15 years.

“Volunteering is good for the volunteer and for the community … Especially if you’re retired. You’ve got to do something; you can’t sit and twiddle your thumbs,” Messer said.

Recipient Bev Gelbart enthused she has had the opportunity to work with many wonderful people through a variety of voluntary pursuits over the years.

Among these endeavours, Gelbart has held numerous roles with Kedem synagogue, been involved in the establishment of Mitzvah Day, volunteered at Stand Up, and been vice-president of the Union for Progressive Judaism.

“Both as a parent and as a teacher, the things I feel strongly about are education, community and the need to provide something for our future generations to build on,” Gelbart said.

“It has been by working with other people who feel passionately about something and are prepared to work together to make it happen, that I have also been motivated and able to contribute.”

Finally, Leonid Shvartsman has assisted organisations including the United Israel Appeal, JNF and MDA. He has also worked tirelessly with the Russian Jewish community, whom he paid tribute to in his speech.

PHOEBE ROTH