1.   Which Jewish organisations and what involvement did you have in Jewish life when you were a teen and what organisations are you involved now?

I was born in Williamstown, a western suburb of Melbourne on the other side of the Westgate Bridge, and lived there till I was 20.

My parents both came from traditional Jewish homes but moved there for my father’s business – but this now placed us in a totally non Jewish environment. Actually when I started at the local Primary then High Schools I was the ONLY Jewish student and there were no Jewish teachers.

Needing a Jewish Social Network and a Cultural Connection I had to look outside my neighbourhood. Fortunately for me I joined Habonim Youth Movement at about 10, and was soon very involved. This was paramount to me feeling a sense of Jewish Community and a connection to Israel. I have many friendships that have lasted till current day. The MOST IMPORTANT one being that I met my husband John at Habo when I was 17 and we’re approaching our 47th Wedding Anniversary.

My grandparents lived in Carlton and were Yiddish Speaking and I spent my weekends with them so it was important that I learn to converse, read and write Yiddish, so as well as Carlton Habonim I spent Sunday mornings at Peretz Yiddish School. Although I often grizzled about having to get up early and do extra homework, I value having the language that connected me to my Jewish History and enabled me to converse with overseas family where it was the only common language. I used it meeting Jews to Old Synagogues through Europe. I still have some Yiddish postcards I wrote to my Booba and Zaida from Habo Camps.

We belonged to a small Shteibel (shul) in Carlton. My Zaida regularly took my sister and I. After he passed away we became involved with East Melbourne Shul.

Only as an adult did I get involved with Maccabi. I wasn’t sporty in my youth (other than supporting and attending Carlton Football Club) but our son David started playing Table Tennis at Maccabi and I soon found myself fundraising, accompanying Junior teams to various Maccabi Games in America and Israel.

My Paternal grandmother was a Caterer providing kosher meals for single men who came to Australia after the Second World War before they could bring out their families. Maybe this lead me to be attracted to The Giving Kitchen here at Chabad Malvern. It’s been very fulfilling to work and support the Program  beside Velly, Rivkah and the generous women in the team. Not only to provide Challahs and food to those in need but to educate attendees about the importance of Giving and Supporting others.

Lastly and most recently I  joined the Friends of King David School committee. Currently we’re working to support music scholarships and the completion of a designated Recital Room.

2.   What was your proudest Jewish moment in your life?

It’s hard to single out one moment, but my proudest Jewish moments are simple ones that involve my family and their significant Jewish milestones.

Our Nicole and David’s Bat and Bar mitzvahs. Celebrating them with John’s parents who were Holocaust Survivors were truly emotional simchot as they had no such celebrations in their childhoods. 

Walking our children  under the chuppah to marry their wonderful partners, and then the 2 Bar Mitzvahs of our grandsons Jackson and Hayden here at Chabad Malvern, and  seeing them prepare with Reuvi’s classes, study Torah, and start to develop their own Jewish identities are significant highlights.

My heart swells with pride as I watch our Traditions, Religion and Culture being passed on to the next generation of our Zalcberg/Carew/Baskin family.

BH we’ll celebrate Blake’s Bar Mitzvah here in 3 years with the same naches.

I have to include seeing the boys in shul with their grandfathers, and on the occasions we have our little girls from Sydney with us, being able to bring them to shul for a Purim Party or Hamantashen Bake or helping me make challahs at home for a family Shabbat Dinner here or in Lorne. I love watching the children help me prepare for Passover – the costumes, the plagues or the games that Velly has provided instructions for, during his great pre-Pesach  Shiur.

I feel very blessed and very proud of the family and their Jewish values, that John and I have produced.

3.    With your knowledge today, what would you have done differently?

I would have loved to have gone to a Jewish Day School and lived closer to a Jewish Community. This may not have changed my path but I often felt a bit isolated and I was coping with balancing two identities. Monday to Friday in a totally secular world where I wasn’t facing Antisemitism , but just an ignorance of what it meant to be Jewish. While everyone else at school was having Christian Religious Instruction class, I was sent out of the room to the library. I didn’t socialise at school dances etc. Instead I studied a lot, spent weekends surrounded by Jewish Life in Carlton. It would have been nice to be that comfortable all week long.

My other regret is that I wish I’d have taken the year off after year 12 and gone on 12 month program to Israel. To have gone with friends on Machon or Shnat haksharah with Habonim. I would have loved to live and work on a Kibbutz, doing Ulpan to learn Hebrew and immerse myself in the Country’s Culture, being able to explore the Country and its history as a teenager with all the energy and enthusiasm of youth. To see how amazingly Israel has evolved and created such an incredible agricultural and technologically forward thinking nation.

I have been to Israel as an adult, and we have taken our children, but I missed this youth experience, and I hope now my grandchildren will soon undertake such an adventure through the great programs being offered by their school and community initiatives.


1.    Who would you like to meet from Jewish history?

If I could meet anyone from Jewish History, I think I would choose King David. He had a major role in the history of the Jewish people, and what interests me is his Complicated Relationship With God, as well as the amazing courage he showed throughout his life to achieve both his greatest personal goals and also the goal of uniting the 12 tribes of Judea under his single rule.

His earliest prestigious victory was as a simple shepherd, when he slayed Goliath, the leader of the Philistines, with nothing but a rock in a sling-shot. This is an example of his courage and foreshadows how powerful a leader he would soon become.

He became a very powerful fighter, and created a very strong army, which is why he had such amazing military success. He fought 66 battles and never lost any. I find it so intriguing just wondering how he did these things….. if it involved strenuous hours of masterful strategic planning, or the ability to command the respect and devotion of his army, or was it simply a feat of strength?

As I said, he had a complicated relationship with God, because he performed various righteous acts, but some of his actions throughout his time in power  were immoral. One of these was that he committed adultery with Bathsheba, as well as sending her husband, Uriah, to the front lines during a battle so that he would be killed. This personal conflict between good and bad is another thing that I’m curious about. If I were to meet him I would ask him about this inner dilemma.

He often uses his closeness to God to benefit himself as well as his people, although God said that because he had killed so many "he had blood on his hands" and wouldn’t allow him to build a Temple.

I’m wondering if he considered himself a good example of a king, and therefore worthy of constructing the Temple.

There are other major figures in Jewish history I would also find interesting to meet, especially through more recent times such as the holocaust, including my own great grandparents.

2.   What is your favourite Mitzvah

My favourite Mitzvah to do and celebrate is that of giving Mishloach Manot on Purim. This Mitzvah really expresses the essence of giving and supporting each other within the Jewish Community.

It is written in the Book of Esther that Purim is "Days of feasting and Gladness, and sending portions of food to one another, and the poor.

The giving of these Mishloach Manot is meant to ensure that everyone has enough food for the Purim feast and to increase love and friendship amongst Jews and our neighbours.

I enjoy preparing these Purim baskets with extra treats and Hamantashen for my friends and family then enjoying the celebration of Purim. It’s something we do as a family activity and it feels good knowing that we have done a good deed and act of kindness towards one another.