Blog

Shining a spotlight on our volunteers

Hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life and backgrounds have dedicated their time and hard work to support the Museum since our inception 30 years ago. Here’s a spotlight on some of the generous volunteers who work with us.

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Survivor Portraits – Lucy Chladek

Lucy Chladek was born in 1937. Even after surviving the Holocaust, she and her family were still not safe.

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The stories behind the pink triangle

On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia we reflect on the untold testimonies from the persecuted LGBTIQ community during the Holocaust.

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A three-month job that’s lasted nearly three decades

In 1994, a librarian named Tinny Lenthen took what she thought was a short-term job opportunity at the Museum’s newly opened library. 28 years later, Tinny still sits behind the library desk. She remains one of few constants in a space that has been totally transformed over three decades.

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Uncovering an exhibition that was never seen

Last July, Wendy Sharpe took to the walls of the Museum to paint a large mural titled “Vu iz dos Gesele?” Sadly, due to Covid lockdowns, the mural would never be seen by Museum visitors, until now, with the release of a new documentary by Joshua and Karly Marks about the exhibition. Here’s what the filmmakers had to say.

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“This year in Jerusalem”: the story of a Seder plate

This Seder plate from our collection was given to Samuel Steif in a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany in 1948. It depicts the emancipation of the Jewish people from slavery – a meaning that would have taken on a deeper significance right after the Holocaust. It is engraved not with the traditional saying “Next year in Jerusalem”, but rather, “This year in Jerusalem”.

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Telling the Holocaust through poems

For many Holocaust victims and survivors, poetry was used to convey experience in ways that traditional language simply could not. Holocaust poems have emerged as an important medium to express emotions of suffering, despair and even hope.

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Gandel Survey finds a quarter of Australians don’t know about the Holocaust 

A recent Australia-wide survey by the Gandel Foundation found that a quarter of Australians don’t know about the Holocaust. Our Head of Education, Dr Rebecca Kummerfeld provides some important insights.

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On Mice and Men: The banning of Art Spigelman’s “Maus”

The recent banning of Art Spigelman’s “Maus” books by a US school board prompts Sydney Jewish Museum Educator, Dr Breann Fallon, to ask: what is more dangerous, a book itself or the action of banning it? 

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In love and Auschwitz

Bully and Gerda became engaged after meeting in the Berlin Jewish Youth movement in 1937, but the burgeoning romance was almost cut short when Bully was deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1939.

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Uncovering a family’s last letters

This new donation to our collection will keep our curators and a Yiddish translator busy for at least three years.

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Survivor Portraits – Peter Gyenes

Peter Gyenes was born in 1941 in Budapest, Hungary. His story highlights the power of kindness and compassion.

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Regina Zielinski: Escape from Sobibor

Regina Zielinski: Escape from Sobibor By Roslyn Sugarman, Head Curator Every year on 14 October we remember Regina Zielinski, Australia’s only Sobibor death camp survivor. Regina (Riva) was born on …

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Holocaust ‘fashion’

Holocaust ‘fashion’ By Dr Jonathan Kaplan, 2021 Museum Research Fellow Despite the horrific conditions of the Nazi camps, prisoners tried to maintain control over their own bodies in whatever ways …

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Survivor Portraits – Alice Loeb

Alice Loeb was born in 1943 in Zurich, Switzerland. She was born stateless, as her parents escaped from Austria in 1938 after the Nazis invaded.

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“An eye for an eye”

“An eye for an eye” By Emeritus Professor Konrad Kwiet, Resident Historian “Jewish Youth!… Do not be led astray. Of the 80,000 Jews in the ‘Jerusalem of Lithuania’ (Vilna) only …

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Lucky the cat

Beate Beer escaped Nazi Germany to England on the Kindertransport. Separated from her parents, she had to adjust to a new life with her foster family.

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Kamianets-Podilskyi and the 1941 massacres

Wendy Sharpe’s mural features the historic city of Kamianets-Podilskyi, but its iconic fortress holds a dark history. The massacres perpetrated by the Germans and their collaborators on the site exactly 80 years ago destroyed the thriving Jewish world of Kamianets-Podilskyi, and with it dos gesele, the little street. 

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Heinrich and Hermine

The rag dolls and teddy bear on display in the Sydney Jewish Museum were made in Italy by a Jewish refugee known only as ‘Skalla’. Instead of being made as a toy for children, they were made as a substitute for lost children, a way to memorialise and remember her children who did not survive the war.

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“My beloved little Inge, I wish you all the best for the New Year”

In time for Rosh Hashana and the high holidays, we share a series of letters in the Sydney Jewish Museum’s collection, written to Inge-Ruth Herrmman.

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An interview with Wendy Sharpe

An interview with Wendy Sharpe One of Australia’s favourite artists, Wendy Sharpe recently spoke to us about the process of creating a large-scale mural of her family history in the middle of a pandemic …

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A friendship book rescued from a second-hand bookshop

A small ‘autograph book’ or ‘friendship album’ kept by a young German girl came into our possession in 2015: it had been rescued from obscurity from a second-hand bookshop in Bondi in the mid-1980s. How it came to be there one can only speculate.

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Preserving a lost religious world

These silver Judaica items tell a story of a lost religious world. They survived the Holocaust and post-war communism, and were smuggled out from Hungary to Australia, one by one, in the 1980s.

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4 lessons you can learn today from Holocaust survivors

If you are in need of inspiration today, here are words from four Holocaust survivors on resilience, perspective, happiness and humour.

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Survivor Portraits – Maurice Linker

Maurice Linker was born in 1930 in Czernowitz, Romania. Maurice and his family survived the Holocaust with the help of the Mayor of Czernowitz.

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Survivor Portraits – Beate Stricker

Beate Stricker was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1930. Beate’s father sourced the necessary papers for the family to leave immediately after Kristallnacht. Their destination was Australia.

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Kapos: collaborators, perpetrators or victims?

Kapos: collaborators, perpetrators or victims? By Emeritus Professor Konrad Kwiet, Resident Historian Jewish Kapos played a pivotal role in the history of the Holocaust. Imprisoned in concentration camps, Kapos were …

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Survivor Portraits – Anne Heilig

Anne Heilig was born in Berlin, Germany in 1935. Hitler had already come to power and the persecution of the Jews in Germany had begun. Anne and her parents were lucky enough to receive a visa to Australia.

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Brothers in arms

Brothers in arms Two orphaned brothers, separated after the deaths of both their parents, were reunited after more than a decade in the trenches of the Gallipoli battlefield. The story …

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Honouring the dead

Honouring the dead Author: Emeritus Professor Konrad Kwiet, Resident Historian Jews follow religious laws and traditional rites of burying and honouring the dead. The deceased are thoroughly washed as an …

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Survivor Portraits – Vera Kertesz

Holocaust survivor Vera Kertesz was born in 1933 in Czechoslovakia. She was an only child and believed if her parents had had more children, the family would not have survived.

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A firefighter’s charms

A firefighter’s charms These small metal charms in the Sydney Jewish Museum’s collection were made in the Theresienstadt Ghetto. They belonged to Pavel Thorsch, a member of the Feuerwache (FW); …

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Passover and modern day slavery

Passover and modern day slavery Every Pesach or Passover, Jews throughout the world are commanded to tell the story of their emancipation from slavery in ancient Egypt. However, while retelling …

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Juden Raus! Out with the Jews! – The Anschluss of Austria

Juden Raus! Out with the Jews! – The Anschluss of Austria By Emeritus Professor Konrad Kwiet, Resident Historian On 12 March 1938, Hitler’s army marched into Austria. The subsequent Anschluss …

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The Women on Exhibition

The Women on Exhibition On International Women’s Day, we take a walk through our exhibitions to highlight the strong women whose stories are central to the history we teach and …

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Reminders of humanity: Jacqueline Dale’s birthday cards

Reminders of humanity: Jacqueline Dale’s birthday cards Bordered by blue tape and creased by decades of history, the birthday cards given to Jacqueline Dale (nee Feldman) on the occasion of …

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Survivor Portraits – Leon Milch

Holocaust survivor Leon Milch was born in 1932 in Podhajce, Poland, a vibrant town of 6000 people, of which half were Jewish. He and his brother lost both of their parents in the Holocaust.

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The hidden ink sketches of Chaim Uryson

The hidden ink sketches on Chaim Uryson A collection of eight ink sketches recently piqued our curators’ attention once more. These sketches in our collection were done by Polish Jewish …

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Survivor Portraits – Peter Reismann

Holocaust survivor Peter Reismann was born in 1939 in Budapest, Hungary. At 4 years old, he remembers hurrying into a dark and small bunker.

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The perpetual markings of Auschwitz

The perpetual markings of Auschwitz By Emeritus Professor Konrad Kwiet, Resident Historian Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and marks 76 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. Only in Auschwitz …

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