From Alex to Zelda… Happy Pesach to all our Humans of JCA


We’ve got an army of editors here at JCA, and the strong advice for this week’s @jcatoday, is keep it short. Pesach approaches. Seder tables are set. Haggadot are at the ready. Elijah’s cup is filled. And Afikomen are waiting to be hidden. Nobody’s got time for a JCA megillah (especially since that’s the wrong festival anyway). But there are one or two things that happened this week that you really should know about, especially in case one of the kids asks you this evening, “Why is this community different from all other communities?” So here goes:

Monday night saw the launch of our 2016 Campaign, Humans of JCA: OUR people OUR stories OUR community. Over 130 communal leaders, workers and volunteers packed into the Linz Family Drama Theatre at Moriah College to hear JCA President, Stephen Chipkin, outline this year’s thinking and theme:

This year, we wanted to focus on the heart and the faces of the human beings who help make our community what it is.

And so for the Campaign this year we look at our community through the lens of Humans of JCA (an inspiration from the successful Humans of New York project). It is all about our people and our stories.

To do that, we arranged for 25 volunteer photographers, some professional, some young amateurs to take more than 50 photographs and to capture the faces and inspirational stories of our community. You will see some of the photos in our Community Source Magazine, you will see the rest of them at our events. We ask you to come and see the people and to hear the stories. Bring your family and your friends too, because we all need to hear the stories, see who we are and take pride in what we stand for.

Stephen then introduced two of the many stories we will feature this year: Zelda Feigen OAM, who at 88 is one of the builders of this community, and continues to volunteer for COA Sydney (and very probably is delivering a few last minute kosher (le’Pesach) meals on wheels to some of our frail and aged as you read this). And Alex Ryvchin who at 32 represents the strong future of our community as he advocates on all our behalf in his role at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Both Zelda and Alex arrived in this community as children, fleeing anti-Semitic totalitarian regimes in Eastern Europe, albeit half a century apart. If you want to fully understand the meaning of Zman Cherutaynu– the Time of our Freedom, make sure to watch Zelda before your Seder.

Following the launch, copies of the Community Source Magazine started to land in all your mailboxes. And we have been heartened and humbled by the flood of positive comments and feedback received as you thumb through this year’s beautiful publication. It is a true picture of our wonderful community and the impact your philanthropy has on countless lives. If you haven’t yet received your copy, we may have your wrong address (unlikely, as that joke about a Jew on a desert island, is actually for real). No worry, please get in touch and we’d love to send you a copy, or as many as you like, for your friends and family and communal networks. We need you to help us spread the word.

We also need you to come to our events, which will all be held in our Pop Up Gallery at Bondi (plus another in St Ives) in May and June. We also hope to do something down in the ACT a bit later this year. Invitations will be sent out shortly, but in the meantime, check out this sneak peek video. We need as many people as we can to be ambassadors, invite their friends and stand up to be counted. Look around your Seder table tonight and realise that the future of this community is in your hands, and then contact the office next week on 9360 2344, or email

Shabbat Shalom and Pesach Sameach,

Daniel Grynberg

PS. Despite our army of editors, and our best efforts to check and recheck the donor lists in the Community Source Magazine, each year there are unfortunately a handful of errors that creep in. It would be wonderful to be able to issue an erratum, for those donors who wanted to be included but were unfortunately left out (often due to changed publication preferences). Harder to fix are the donors whose names are listed, but who wanted anonymity. And then there are those who despite our best efforts are not published completely correctly. In this regard, we send our apologies and a special Chag Sameach to Mervyn and Lorraine Basserabie, whose incredible gift to our community last year of $1,000,000 broke our typesetting machine.