Survivors, Jewish Holocaust Centre honoured at Government House

Szaja Chaskiel with Linda Dessau. Photo: Peter Haskin

Victorian Governor Linda Dessau and her husband Anthony Howard extended the hospitality of Government House to Melbourne’s Shoah survivors last Thursday, with guides and staff from the Jewish Holocaust Centre (JHC) invited to a morning tea.

“You, our guests this morning, are people that my husband Tony and I really want to thank for making an enormous contribution that for many of you, I recognise, is far from easy, and truly selfless,” said Dessau.

Noting that “we must be vigilant about our future”, the Governor reflected, “We can never fully understand where we’re heading if we don’t always remember where we’ve come from. And that’s why I’m so grateful to the Jewish Holocaust Centre, because for nearly 35 years now, you have helped teach Victorians about the Holocaust, and you have focused on the critical importance of memory and memorialisation.”

But Dessau noted that a special dimension to these messages is that “they have been so universal in nature”.

Around 30,000 people a year, Jewish and non-Jewish, have learned from the survivors they met at the JHC “of the need to combat bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, bullying and hatred”, she said.

“You’ve taught of the need to maintain a just society underscored by compassion and humanity, and the importance of cherishing our democratic institutions that really do characterise our Australian way of life.”

She added, “Having heard your stories first-hand, having seen and heard your strength, and having had reinforced to them what must never happen again, visitors leave your centre fortified in their desire to ensure that they contribute to Victorian and Australian communities being a haven of unity and respect that we all so dearly want.”

Melbourne’s Yom Hashoah commemoration will be held at Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University Clayton on Wednesday April 11 at 7.30pm.

For information and tickets, call the JCCV on (03) 9272 5566 or the JHC on (03) 9528 1985.

PETER KOHN