Imagine being an Ephramite, about 3,000 years ago. You’ve just been thumped in battle by the Gileadites, and they are in hot pursuit. You are making a desperate dash for safety across the Jordan River (which probably had a bit of water in it back then) when you are confronted at the ford by yet more Gileadites. They are not sure if you are friend or foe, so they have you say the word “shibboleth”, and because you can’t say any word with a “sh” sound, you utter “sibboleth”, and are found out. And put to death. Along with 42,000 of your countrymen. Such is the blood-soaked history of one of the more interesting words classical Hebrew has bequeathed to our English language.
In our time, shibboleths are much less lethal, and yet equally as effective at determining who is in and who is out. You can tell when a person arrived in Sydney (or how old they are) by the name they use for the tower above Westfield in the city. Centrepoint. Sydney Tower. AMP Tower (that was shortlived), and no doubt sometime soon Westfield Tower.
Likewise in our community, you can tell certain things about a person – especially their age – when they refer to the Australian Jewish News, as the Australian Jewish Times (as it was for so many years). Though given the number of birthday cards I sign for JCA donors who turn 100, there are probably a fair few people around who still think of the paper as the Hebrew Standard.
Well last night I went to the 120th birthday party of our newspaper, and even though they are not a JCA member organisation, I think it is pretty clear that the Australian Jewish News is a remarkable and important piece of communal infrastructure. If there was any doubt, last night we were presented with a commemorative book celebrating the 120 years and I can promise you that it will be fought over across dinner tables for many a Shabbat. Get yourself a copy. And buy one for your uncle.
It seems a bit superfluous at someone’s 120th birthday to wish them, biz hundert un tsvantsik (you should live to 120). And the AJN is 20 years past the much more practical Yiddish advice: Biz hundert azoi ve tsvantsik (Live till 100, like a 20 year old). So rather than lots of words, we thought we would share with you the following pictures, which are on the walls of our otherwise very drab JCA boardroom. You can see that the partnership of JCA with the AJN spans many decades:
Looking back at those early campaign covers got us thinking. We are due for our first Thermo-clock competition for 2015 – for the first person to identify any of the children in these pictures. Of course if any of those kids all grown up, is reading this, we might have to find an even more special prize.
Speaking of 100’s, our Chairman of Marketing Garry Browne is involved in another centenary event – 100th Anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli – a special commemoration event will be held at The Great Synagogue in May. See the flyer below for more information on getting involved.
This week’s community in actions story is one that spans over a decade and will continue to span two lifetimes. Jonno and Dave met through JewishCare’s Big Brother, Big Sister program – this is their beautiful story.