May 18, 2022
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.
Some use their skills to keep the Museum operating smoothly, working across our organisation from shop and admissions to the library and in our offices. Some guide our guests through the Museum, while some are Holocaust survivors who share their stories with people old and young, from different parts of the world.
While our volunteers do different work, they all contribute to the same mission: commemorating the six million Jewish people who were murdered in the Holocaust. They contribute to the illumination and preservation of Jewish cultural life and heritage in Sydney, ensuring that memory is honoured and history is researched.
Here are some quotes from a very small selection of our wonderful volunteers:
Michael Jaku, Eddie Jaku OAM and Andre Jaku. Two generations of volunteers. c 2015
“My father, Eddie Jaku said:
“A field is empty, but if you put in the effort to grow something you will have a garden. And that’s life. Give something, something will come back. Give nothing, nothing will come back. To grow a flower is a miracle: it means you can grow more. Remember that a flower is not just a flower, it is the start of a whole garden”.
This is how I see volunteering. To give back is to give life and it gives me great pleasure to give back to the Sydney Jewish Museum which continues to educate those about the Holocaust. The Sydney Jewish Museum was my father’s second home and volunteering allows me to keep his memory and legacy alive.”
Andre is one of Eddie Jaku OAM’s sons. He has been volunteering at the Museum for almost a decade and has been instrumental in the Museum’s fundraising efforts. Andre is part of four generations of the Jaku family who volunteer at the Museum.
“I’ve been coming to the Museum for nearly 30 years, standing in the same place, the same spot. It’s my second home. When I first came to the Museum to talk I couldn’t get the words out… but over the years I was encouraged to speak to young kids and you wouldn’t believe it; everything I was keeping inside me came out. Having the chance to tell people my story and what I went through all my life has helped me a lot.”
Jack, who is in his mid-nineties, has volunteered at the Museum every Thursday for decades. For many of those years, he struggled to talk about his experiences in Buchenwald, Auschwitz and Buna concentration camps, but he believes he has now finally found his voice.
“When I visited the Sydney Jewish Museum for the first time, I was touched to see stories like those of my German and Polish grandparents on display. I love that stories like my grandparents’ can be used in the Museum to teach about humanity and the rights of all.”
Tatiana has been volunteering with us since she arrived in Australia in 2018. She finds it meaningful to use her professional marketing skills to connect and feel closer to her roots.
“There are so many ways to contribute as a volunteer to the museum’s mission. I feel so lucky I can offer my creative time in this way”.
Louise has been volunteering her photographic skills and uploading products to the Museum’s online shop for several years.
” I just love it!”
Liz, who has volunteered at our reception for over a decade, says her favourite part of the job is meeting new people and seeing smiling faces.
“My parents were refugees who made a new life in Australia. It gives me satisfaction to know that I can give back to the community that gave them so much.”
Mary is a new volunteer driver here at the Museum. She admits that she’s constantly surprised by how deeply connected the community of volunteers are.