On 18 July 2013 at 4.30pm, President Judy and VP Ben drove their cars through one of the worst storms in recent history to attend a meeting with Dr Danny Lamm. The purpose was to request room in the Lamm Jewish Library of Australia for VAJEX Australia to use as our Headquarters.
What had happened to our long-standing HQ at Avoca Avenue Elwood? The previous year, Ben was told that we could no longer use our former headquarters that had been available to us since 1929. We were left homeless with our archives and collection spread at various locations around Melbourne. A solution needed to be found.
In his usual problem-solving way, Danny sat back in his chair and said, "VAJEX needs a home!" He picked up the phone and rang Library Director Leonie Fleiszig and asked her to meet with Judy and show her two rooms which might be suitable. If you have ever had the pleasure to meet Leonie, you'll know what is meant when it is said that she is a warm and accommodating person, generous in giving her time to make you feel welcome and valued. She made it easy and a room was selected.
The first thing that struck Judy on entering "our" room was how it was filled with light from the large north facing windows. The second was that it was EMPTY! Oh my goodness, we would have to get everything for this room...and so the challenge began. We needed filing cabinets, window furnishings, an air conditioner and office furniture. But where would the money come from?
That's the thing about the Jewish community. We help each other. VAJEX volunteers give freely of our time to visit our ageing members and also to honour the memories of those who fell in war as well as those who passed away after their service was finished. Every year we hold services which frankly, takes us away from precious family times. Why do we do it? Because we never want to forget the service and sacrifice of our own who fought that we could live in freedom. It is a labour of love and gratitude.
Judy was on a mission. Many, many thousands of dollars needed to be raised as she didn't want to use the modest existing VAJEX funds, as the future funding and running of services could never be compromised. So off she went...email after email was sent out requesting assistance. In came some donations but there was still not enough to cover the costs. A letter requesting donations from the membership went into our magazine PARADE and even more donations came in. The target has nearly been reached!