Can you help the Newcastle Hebrew Congregation?

Newcastle Hebrew Congregation

16 November 2021

Newcastle Hebrew Congregation

Dear Community,

We here at Newcastle Hebrew Congregation are in the process of updating our historical archives. Our Congregation is over 100 years old and our Synagogue will be 100 in 2027.

There have been many families and friends pass through our Shule over the years. They have been here for varying amounts of time, but the thing they have in common is they have shared a milestone event within our community. These events include –

  • Weddings
  • Brit Milah
  • Bar Mitzvah
  • Bat Mitzvah
  • Funerals
  • Engagements
  • Debutante Balls
  • Naming Ceremony

There have been so many of these and, unfortunately, our records have a few gaps.

Have you or someone you know been part of this community?

Have you or someone you know visited our Shule to be part of an event?

Do you or someone you know live in the Hunter/Newcastle/Central Coast Region and are not currently part of our community?

We want to hear from you!!

Please help us, we are interested in information, documents, photos, videos/film/audio recordings.

Please don’t hesitate. Contact us via email or phone.

Claire Tipper
p: 0403 220 194

Jacqui Orner
p: 0412 411 452

Best Regards,
The Board of The Newcastle Hebrew Congregation

Jewish youth to advance community mental wellbeing

Group of young people

30 September 2021

Group of young peopleJewishCare are looking to our youth who want to help strengthen the mental wellbeing of our young people.

“JewishCare’s new Youth Reference Group is a new initiative that aims to bring together a diverse group of 18-25 years, who are passionate about supporting young people’s mental health and wellbeing,” says Mimi Zilka, Manager, Youth Services.

The group will collaborate on projects, activities and events that promote positive mental health and wellbeing, challenge myths and stigma around mental ill-health, and ensure ease of access to support and services specifically aimed at young people.

JewishCare believes young people are the experts of their own experience and are inviting those aged 18-25 years to register their interest.

“Not only will group members have a platform to make a positive difference, but they’ll also receive some great job ready skills in marketing, communications, events, leadership and community engagement, with training opportunities also available,” says group leader Jamie Adams.

Members DO NOT need to have lived experience of mental health issues but should be passionate about making a positive difference.

According to the World Health Organization, “half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but most cases are undetected and untreated,” and “globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents.”

Help make a positive difference. Find out more, contact Jamie Adams on 0412 786 943 or

Jobs Open!

Community organisations JewishCare and Jewish House have formed a landmark partnership with the launch of Jobs Open! The joint initiative is designed to connect local employers with job seekers in the community, helping businesses and individuals to thrive during these difficult times.

Jobs Open! encourages employers to be open to employment diversity, helping place job seekers from all backgrounds, including those with a disability.

The collaboration has already produced some great results, with employers benefiting from advancing their corporate social responsibility and strengthening their workplace culture.

“When we were first approached by JewishCare to employ someone with a disability at Salon Lane, we recognised the unique opportunity to promote a workplace of diversity and inclusiveness,” said the business’ co-founder and CEO, Jared Keen.

“Rebecca has shown us the importance of seeing people’s abilities first. We are grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in her life and, more importantly, in the lives of all our employees, members and clients.”

Lisa and Adrian Saunders from Arnies Recon have also found the program beneficial.

“Thank you for introducing us to our new employee. We couldn’t be happier. The wisdom they bring and the questions they’ve asked are invaluable. Their experience means they’re ready to go from the start and bring a wealth of knowledge to the business. Plus, they are grateful to be here, super engaged and independently accountable.”

Job seekers have also provided excellent feedback.

“I was assisted and empowered to get a full-time job by genuinely caring and professional staff ready to help me. That included CV writing and interview practice,” said Liam. He has secured a full-time administrative position as a customer service consultant with an employment agency.

Jobs Open! invites companies to engage with this worthwhile initiative to boost employment outcomes in the community.

You can help by:
• Identifying available positions in your organisation;
• Contacting us for a confidential discussion; and
• Spreading the word about Jobs Open! to other employers and job seekers.

Find out more by contacting Shelana on 1300 133 660 or emailing

Burger Centre celebrates 30 years

A founder’s vision realised

As Burger Centre approaches its 30th birthday during an international pandemic, its apt to pause for reflection on where Burger Centre has come from.

Born from a group of wise men coming together, they had a vision of establishing a meeting place for that offered more than a meal, more than a bus and grander than the existing meeting place of Wolper Cottage that was located in the grounds of Wolper Jewish Hospital.

From these discussions, the backing of prominent community members and support from the Wolper Jewish Hospital and many volunteers, the Burger Centre opened its doors in Woollahra in 1991 complete with a gift shop, hair dressing salon, library, bus and a beautiful grand piano. Thirty years later Burger Centre has grown into the heart of the seniors’ community in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and beyond and still homes the original grand piano.

The establishment of the Burger Centre heralded the move by JewishCare away from purely migrant related issues and into the contemporary needs of the time. It was a turning point for the organisation and the whole community,” says David Lesnie, founding Board Member.

Those involved in the early days of the Burger Centre still speak of the aroma of honey cakes, cheese cakes and kugel that greeted everyone as they arrived to the Centre. As the needs change of the community change and expanded so has the Burger Centre.

JewishCare’s proud history of striving for best-practice and innovation remains core to its ethos today as Burger Centre continue to provide services to our much-loved community during the COVID-19 challenges with virtual Zoom programming, Call2Connect volunteer phone services and contactless supports.

“The founder’s vision has only been realised thanks to the incredible support and generosity of donors, administrators and our community over the years,” says current Centre Manager, Bronwyn Elbourne.

In fact, it was the foresight, commitment and fabled negotiations of original donors that enabled a block of land to be purchased for Burger Centre in Woollahra, where JewishCare stands today.
“There are some fascinating stories about how the then Board member, Steven Stux, managed to negotiate a very reasonable land price with the government of the day,” says Warren Hurst, JewishCare’s Community and Donor Engagement Manager (and unofficial historian).

The Board of JewishCare, which included the most prominent leaders at the time, including Rodney Rosenblum, Dr Joachim Schneeweiss AM and David Lesnie, was totally committed to the project and the site was secured in 1989.

Named after one of the major original donors, David ‘Zoli’ Burger AM, the Burger family remain strongly connected to the Centre today. Without the generosity of the Burger family, as well as other community members, Syd Field AM’s dream would never have been realised.

Opened by Norton Whitmont, the then President of JewishCare (previously the Australian Jewish Welfare Society), the Centre then flourished under the Presidency of the much loved and admired, Eva Fischl AM. Eva never missed an opportunity to celebrate special events and was shared a mutual love with the Burger Centre clients.

By the end of the 2000s, Burger Centre’s popularity had surged and outgrown its premises in Woollahra and JCA encouraged JewishCare and Montefiore to become joint owners of the Burger Centre and to move the Centre into a custom-built facility in the Montefiore precinct in Randwick. The new centre, with an expanded and improved range of activities and facilities, opened in 2007.

Today, The Burger Centre is a vital resource that will serve the community for many years to come. With professional and friendly staff, a dedicated volunteer community and a vast array of activities, Burger Centre is perfect for people wanting to meet new people, remain active and be connected to the community, as well as for carers wanting safe and inclusive respite programs that offers purpose, enjoyment and a sense of belonging with culture and Yiddishkeit.

Our clients enjoy Russian speaking programs, excursions, aqua exercise, art classes and can take advantage of Montefiore’s onsite Hair and Beauty Salon, Café, luxury cinema and dental clinic, plus so much more.

We invite you to visit when lockdown is over to see our spacious, accessible and sunlit spaces and enjoy a tour of the campus. We hope to hold a community celebration post lockdown. Please see the website for updated information – or call 02 8345 9147.

A new direction for JewishCare

10 July 2021: The first six months in any job is always dynamic, but when it’s the top job of an established community organisation like JewishCare, operating in the middle of a pandemic, the challenges are tenfold and effective leadership is critical for agility, change and growth.

We took a moment to chat to Gary Groves, CEO of JewishCare, to reflect upon his first six months in this pivotal role, gain insights for his plans ahead and hear his thoughts on what it takes to be an effective leader.

We are inspired with his leadership and excited for the future direction of an integral part of our Jewish community.

What has impressed you the most during your time at JewishCare?
The sense of community support was overwhelming and the willingness of employees to go that extra mile to make a difference for our clients. They are our engine room at JewishCare. Their commitment to our culture, the family mentality and their expertise and knowledge has really inspired me.

Being new to the Jewish community, I also feel privileged to have met with so many of our community partners and generous donors who are willing to collaborate for the greater benefit. I think we’re going to see some great traction over the next six months that we can all be excited for.

What changes are ahead for JewishCare?
JewishCare has built strong foundations since its inception in 1937, with various iterations along the way as its responded to changing needs. My vision for JewishCare is to build upon these initial building blocks to enhance our customer experience, contemporise our practices and ensure we’re positioned to not just meet the needs of our community today, but planning for how JewishCare ensures we’re supporting our community to thrive in the future.

For example, we embarked on a very ambitious Mental Health Scoping Project which will identify what gaps there are in the community, address clinical needs and provide contemporary services for all age groups in partnership with other likeminded organisations.

It sounds like you’ve got quite a transformation agenda, how will you see that come to fruition?
Having a sound strategic plan is obviously important, but I am also fortunate to have an innovative and supportive Board who have endorsed my vision. However, it’s our people who help realise vision. A strong organisation enables its current leaders, but also nurtures its future leaders.

Throughout my career, I’ve identified future leaders by their ability to generate new ideas and build an inspiring vision of the future for those around them. They tend to have a natural drive, are passionate about continuous improvement and have high levels of emotional intelligence, they can recognise their own strengths and weaknesses and lead by example.

They have integrity, and are respected by others for their fairness. They are “people-people,” my favourite quality for leaders who work in human services. They have a positive and motivational energy, and their enthusiasm is contagious.

I like to call it the “star” quality. Difficult to define, but easy to recognise.

How do you describe yourself as a leader?
People often describe my leadership as transformational, balancing visionary concepts, with sound strategy and a pragmatic approach to getting the work done operationally. I like to challenge the status quo to deliver and design better products, systems and outcomes to stimulate innovation and continuous quality improvement to ensure our clients are receiving the best care possible.

I pride myself on being authentic in what I do and my interactions with people. I think it’s important for any leader to regularly connect with their clients and employees at all levels to ensure the organisation remains relevant and responsive.

What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
I believe leadership is one of the most courageous journeys a person can undertake. It will challenge you, inspire you and occasionally knock you back. It’s never a straight line, but what’s important is ensuring you’re learning along the way.

A leader will consistently invest in others by enabling them to achieve while intentionally challenging both themselves and others to pursue goals that stretch their skills. Their focus on the greater good, will see them collaborating and fostering interdependence.

They demonstrate and invest in emotional intelligence, regularly expressing compassion and empathy which I believe are underrated qualities across all industries, not just care services. While many assume being a boss means having all the answers, courageous leaders engage employees to share their ideas and solutions before jumping in. These days, people demand authenticity and transparency within the workplace.

What is the biggest challenge facing JewishCare?
Our biggest challenge is to remain contemporary in an everchanging society. We must be vigilant and be prepared to embrace innovation and new ways of delivering services. Dealing with technological disruption is as much an issue for the not-for-profit sector as it is for mainstream organisations.

There are opportunities for JewishCare to more effectively deliver on our strategic vision by being nimble and embracing technology. COVID has taught us to provide services very differently and align ourselves with the digital world.

Another challenge will be to maintain and grow our workforce on the frontline. We need to diversify our skills and be prepared to provide new clinical models of care to our most vulnerable. The expectations of customers, clients and communities are set to change in a world of consumer-directed funding and choice.

Care before the crisis

Worrying about the welfare of ageing loved ones can be hard, approaching the conversation of home support can be even harder.

For some people the concept of getting an Australian Government Home Care Package is confronting, deterring families from having conversations around their concerns and changes that may be occurring.

However, waiting until a health event or crisis can result in rushed decision making, delayed support and unsatisfactory outcomes according to home care provider JewishCare.

“We’re often asked about when someone should start home care and our advice is it’s wise to start the process well before you think you need it,” says JewishCare’s CEO, Gary Groves.

With Australian Government waiting lists currently extending over 12 months, planning ahead is certainly a wise move and important for peace of mind.

“Our free ‘Home care packages: Start the conversation’ booklet doesn’t just outline how to approach a conversation, but also provides some signs of what to look for to know when a loved one may need a little extra help,” says Gary.

You know your loved one best, so it’s important to trust your instinct if you think things aren’t quite right at home. Some common signs that extra support is needed includes:

• Changes around the home – you might notice the house is less tidy than usual, there’s more cobwebs or linen isn’t getting changed as often.
• Changes with the person – mood changes, an increase in cuts and bruises or reduced personal appearances can all be indicators of the need for a little extra help.

Applying for a home care package can often be equally as daunting! With many people finding the home care package application process confusing, JewishCare have created a free guide to help people navigate the home care package process.

JewishCare’s ‘Home care packages: How to get a package’ provides a clear four step process on what you need to do to get started.

Both free resources can be found at

JewishCare’s have been helping the community since 1936, so have more experience, more expertise and more practical solutions in providing a helping hand. Pease contact their Customer Experience team on 1300 133 670 or email for a confidential discussion.

Generous bequest heralds a new era for JewishCare

JewishCare has received a bequest in excess of $25M from Julianna (Julie) Lowy which is one of the largest bequests our community has ever seen.

Jason Sandler President of JewishCare said “we are honoured to have received this bequest. It will enable JewishCare to continue to fulfil its role as the major service provider in the community while greatly reducing the organisation’s annual allocation from JCA. The JewishCare Foundation Trust was formed in 2011 with the aim of making JewishCare more self-reliant and Julie’s generosity will help this to become a reality”

Julianna Lowy (nee Szilas) was born in Budapest, Hungary in September 1922 and passed away in August 2019.

Like many Hungarians who lived during this time, Julie and her family were victims of two extreme political systems.  They were persecuted firstly as Jews by the Nazis and then by the communist regime.

Despite these extreme hardships, she left an incredible legacy which changed many lives as well as the cultural landscape of Sydney.

Julie married, Pista known as Stephen Lowy a successful restauranteur in Budapest in January 1949 and they emigrated to Australia in 1957 and opened the Rhapsody Cafe in Kings Cross which became a instant hot spot for Europeans, artists and journalists.  The Cosmopolitan followed in the 60s which helped establish Double Bay as the epicentre of the Eastern Suburb’s Hungarian community.

Following this Julie and Pista together with Ervin and Lotte Vidor, opened the Glenview Hotel on the North Shore with the Bellevue Restaurant fast becoming the go to place for the best European food on the North Shore together with renowned Hungarian Gypsy musical evenings.

Despite their commercial success Julie and Stephen chose to live a comfortable but never extravagant life.

Their earlier years of persecution strongly shaped their views and indeed her fears of any form of extremism.  Scars of a Communist regime remained and in 1970s her fear of socialism led to her to become involved with the Liberal Party.  Former Prime minister John Howard said “Julie Lowy was a generous and enthusiastic supporter of the Liberal Party.  She and her husband were great examples of people who put the horror and persecution of war time Europe behind them and built impressive and happy lives in Australia.”

Her Darling Point home was a far cry from Communist Hungary. Beyond the spectacular harbour view and expensive postcode there was a “no frills” humility about Julie that many found captivating.

Former President of JewishCare Allan Vidor said “Julianna had a beautiful and undemanding presence and a sincere kindness. She touched so many lives and was always concerned with the welfare of others, always avoiding any focus on herself. Not only will her bequest help JewishCare to help people in need, but equally importantly, it demonstrates the faith and trust that the community has in JewishCare”.

Gary Groves JewishCare’s Chief Executive Officer said “ The financial generosity of people like Julie, as well as our 500 volunteers and 300 dedicated staff, enables us to provide a wide range of high quality services now and into the future of which our community can be very proud”.

Gary Groves announced as new CEO of JewishCare

Gary Groves

Following a comprehensive recruitment process the Board has announced the appointment of Gary Groves to take over from Claire Vernon as Chief Executive Officer of JewishCare.

Claire announced her decision to vacate the position after 14 highly successful years in the role and Gary will be commencing in February 2021.

Gary has been a senior executive of the NSW Government with a superior track record of providing strategic and operational leadership while creating environments that build and empower individuals to achieve organisational goals.

JewishCare’s President Jason Sandler said “We are grateful to Claire for her many years of outstanding service and are glad to have found a leader of Gary’s calibre to replace her. We are confident that Gary is the right leader for our next phase of development. Gary is dedicated and culturally aligned and is very excited to take on this new opportunity.

Over the last 22 years Gary has dedicated his public service career to protecting the most vulnerable in our community, especially vulnerable children and young people in the areas of trauma, sexual abuse, domestic violence, disability, carers, out-of-home care and Aboriginal disadvantage. He has worked in numerous roles within the NSW Police Force, the Ombudsman, Department of Family & Community Services (FACS), Department of Communities and Justice and has been at the helm of numerous major reforms in NSW Government.

Gary said “I am extremely excited to be joining JewishCare.  I’m really keen to continue with Claire’s legacy and grow, innovate and deliver the best services to the Jewish Community that provides amazing outcomes to clients and a high level of staff satisfaction.   Listening, observing and working with frontline staff, the management team and members of the Board will be my top priority.”

For more information call Warren Hurst, Executive Officer 93028005

Jayne’s Story

Sadly it is inevitable that sometimes a client passes on while we are supporting them.

Jayne wanted the world to know how we changed her life.

Big Brother Big Sister Video

Please click on the link below to view our latest Big Brother Big Sister Video proudly produced and directed by a former Big – Ben Strum.