Russian Oral Histories Launch

(4pm 26 July 2011, Surry Hills Library)

Thank you, Alan Vidor, president Jewish Care and good afternoon, everyone.
I would like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and I pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.

This small book marks a big step forward for the Russian-Jewish community in our City. For the first time, your stories are being told, and told in a way which will reach not only Russian-speakers, but our English-speaking communities as well.

They are powerful stories - full of heartbreak, of persecution and suffering. But they also speak of endurance, of courage, of hope and compassion even in the darkest times.

Despite the darkness in so many of these stories, the book is called "I Love Life" - a title which tells us a great deal about the strength and the spirit of the people whose stories it tells.

For despite Stalin, despite the horrors of the Second World War, despite food shortages and denial of opportunity, so many of you have triumphed. You have not only survived; you have survived with hopes and humanity.

Sydney is a city of migrant people - more than 200 nationalities in this small local government area.

We are proud of our multicultural society and we work hard to support and build bridges across this diverse community.

One way of doing that is to share stories, as you have so generously done in this book.

The City was proud to support it and I thank Jewish Care, Lois Pollock and all those involved in collecting and editing these stories which provide such a unique window into your world.

Above all, I thank all of you who have shared your stories. I hope they help preserve your past for the future and that in sharing them, you help us understand your lives and that you feel that you have a welcome place in this city.

I am pleased to launch this book today, and once again, I thank everyone who has contributed to it.