By Mia Singer


The letter below was sent to Jewish Care by 9 year old Mia Singer. Mia recently donated her birthday money to Jewish Care, specifically to our Housing Services. We share this letter with you to show that making a positive impact on your community can begin at any age.

At my school our unit has been NEEDS and WANTS. We have been learning the differences between needs and wants and how needs can be met in different ways. Like for example, a need is something that you can’t live without where as, a want is something that you can live without. Like saying, compare a toy to clean air, clean water, shelter, food and so on. You can definitely live without a toy but you definitely can’t live without the other things.

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Lack of Affordable Housing in the Jewish Community

By Hugh Cattermole & Melinda Kidgell  


Addressed in Pro Bono Australia’s article on 18 January, ‘NFPs Warn Moving On the Homeless Does Not Make Them Disappear’, the open letter signed by 36 funded Victorian homelessness, housing and social services organisations is a powerful commentary on the root causes and stigma surrounding homelessness.

Jewish Care is an unfunded provider of housing services to our community. Jewish Care addresses the root causes of homelessness, and provides transitional housing support to those experiencing homelessness, or those at risk of homelessness.

Each issue raised in the letter parallels the experience of being on the front line of the current affordable housing crisis in the Victorian Jewish community. We also urgently need more housing – the numbers just don’t add up. There have always been long waiting times for public and community housing, however what we have seen escalate in the previous 12 months is the numbers of people in the Victorian Jewish community being squeezed out of the private rental market. This has had a significant impact on the poor and those on a fixed or low income.

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A Spotlight on Responding to Homelessness


By Marilyn Kraner, Manager Individual & Family Services

As today is the start of National Homelessness Week 2016 (Aug 1-7), The Jewish Care Individual and Family Services team have had cause to think deeply about what it means to be homeless and what we can do about it. This is a tricky process for all of us; client, worker, supervisor and organisation, as what meaning we make from how we define ‘the problem’ necessarily dictates or points to what we think ‘the solution’ is.

For example, if you think a person is homeless because of a lack of money, you might approach this by providing a monetary solution. Whereas if you think a person is homeless because they are mentally unwell you might approach ending their homelessness through pursuing hospital or psychiatric services in the first instance.

The reality for the I&FS team recently is that we have been supporting 6 people experiencing primary homelessness, some have been moving from night to night through various low cost accommodations. Some are sleeping in their cars and others are more visible, sleeping on the street.

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Shelly’s Story

Close Up Portrait Of Smiling Brunette Woman Outdoors

Shelly* always thought she was in control. She was a super mum — working full time, raising four children, cooking and cleaning and partaking in home renovations. Her husband also worked very hard and together they earned a decent living.

Soon after moving to Australia from New Zealand, they bought their first house. It was quite small and required work but luckily, they had experience in renovations and everything seemed fine.

One day, Shelly fearlessly climbed a ladder to plaster the ceiling, only to fall on the tiled floor seconds later. She was rushed into the emergency room with a broken shoulder, rib and teeth.

Shelly couldn’t return to work for 3 months and had to undergo expensive treatments and occupational therapy in order to drive, run her home and return to work.

Meanwhile, the bills were piling up. She was becoming more and more anxious. With the loss of her income, she had no idea how they were going to cope.

Then Shelly approached Jewish Care following a friend’s advice. Jewish Care’s social worker and financial counsellor Josh* patiently sat with Shelly to work through her challenges, bills and extensive paperwork. Josh also negotiated with external organisations on her behalf to alleviate urgent debts. In addition, Shelly received an interest free loan to consolidate her debts.

Shelly was truly grateful for the help she received from Jewish Care at the time of need and registered as Jewish Care’s volunteer to help others.

* Names and image were changed to protect client privacy

To find out more about Jewish Care’s Community Services, please visit jewishcare.org.au, email info@jewishcare.org.au or call (03) 8517 5999


Mary Fisher: A Warrior for the Wellbeing of Older People


Mary Fisher Z’L, an author and a passionate community activist

Mary Fisher (nee Malka Boltiansky) was born in the town of Tokmak, Russian Empire in 1912.

During this turbulent time between the Civil War and revolution, many pogroms took place forcing the Boltiansky family to sell their belongings and move to Israel.

Back then, a 12-year-old Malka loved her new home in Tel Aviv. She attended school for the first time as there was no school in her home town Tokmak. As the family had little money, they could not afford to buy Mary shoes so she had to walk to school barefoot across hot sand each day. Mary was so thrilled about going to school she did not mind burning her feet to get there. She soaked up the education and quickly learnt Hebrew.

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Exploring Creativity Through Cooking with Jewish Care’s Disability Residents

By Sarah Bendetsky           

D8E_5007Galit Ben David’s cooking passion started at home.

Both of her parents, of Persian and Moroccan background, were excellent cooks who taught Galit the love for fresh ingredients, vibrant spices and varieties of tastes.

“One of my first childhood memories,” said Galit, “is of my great-grandmother who lived with us. She used to sit down in front of a huge silver dish to make couscous dough from scratch. She was in her early 90s.” Continue reading

The Power of Volunteering

By Olivia Benkel, Volunteer Resource Program Campaign Coordinator at Jewish Care Victoria

Olivia Benkel

A look, a touch, a smile, can create the most unimaginable heartfelt moment. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time at Jewish Care’s Residential Aged Care Homes.

Having never visited residential facilities before, I had a feeling of uncertainty and fear as to what to expect and what emotions I might feel. I was not sure what I could offer and whether I had any skills that would be beneficial.

On my first day exploring one of the homes, I saw a resident walking past and gave her a friendly smile. Her eyes lit up and I immediately realised that an act so simple as a smile of acknowledgement had given her a positive interactive moment. All of a sudden, the fear and doubt I had just minutes before disappeared and I realised that I could make a difference. Continue reading

Remembering Outstanding Friends of Glen Eira House

In March, we were fortunate to launch The Coppel & Piekarski Family Disability Respite Centre in Caulfield. Even though the centre planning process started only a few years ago, we owe much gratitude to the pioneers of social inclusion in our community who helped build the foundations of our Disability Services over 40 years ago.

Back in the mid-70s, the Victorian Jewish community was powering ahead with a myriad of communal organisations led by long-term community members, refugees and Holocaust survivors determined to rebuild their lives and establish a future for their children.

However, hidden from view, there was a group of children and adolescents with disability who needed community support while the government funding was still years away.

Willing to change the situation, their parents decided to unite and make a difference. Continue reading

The Greatest Loss

Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) begins in the evening of Wednesday May 4th and Jewish Care is honoured to be able to release a brand new video to commemorate this solemn day.

‘The Greatest Loss’ is a gripping 15-minute short film that features interviews with 12 Holocaust survivors who have a relationship with Jewish Care as clients, aged care residents, volunteers and donors. They emotionally recount their loss of childhood, family, identity and freedom at the hands of NAZI Germany and its collaborators.

Each person tells their own heartbreaking story of how they managed to survive the atrocities they witnessed and experienced.

This is the first video in a new Jewish Care series titled ‘Rising From The Ashes’  that documents the thoughts and memories of survivors on a number of different topics. Continue reading

Reflections of World War II

Jewish Care’s aged care residents participated in a significant photographic project called Reflections, aimed at creating compelling photo memories of Australian WWII veterans.

Organised by the Australian Institute of Professional Photography, the project encouraged the veterans to take part in a free professional photo shoot, commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.

Thanks to Sav S Photography who volunteered his time to capture the portraits of Jewish veterans, the project became a truly emotional experience for everyone at Jewish Care.

Each veteran received a printed and mounted photograph which they proudly displayed in their rooms. The collection of photos was donated to the National Archives of Australia and the Australian War Memorial and will be published in the official historical almanac titled ‘Reflections’, along with 4,000 other photos of the Australian veterans residing nationwide.

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