A Love Letter to Our Volunteers

May 15, 2020

In Hebrew, natan means ‘he gave.’ There’s something beautiful about this word in both original script and transliteration, as it can be read forward and backward – the idea being that when we offer something of ourselves it’s as much about giving as receiving.

The Jewish Museum of Australia is fortunate to receive the gift of time, insight and commitment from over 100 volunteers across all aspects of our activity. From the earliest days at Toorak shule and even now when our lights are dimmed, this group has sustained us. For National Volunteers Week, we give back by saluting them.

Jessica Bram
Director & CEO

Eleni Papavasileiou, Senior Curator & Collection Manager

Volunteers are invaluable to museums – they offer their expertise, enthusiasm and love for collections, history, art and community. Our small team includes those who transcribe and translate; location audit, photograph and rehouse artefacts; and create inventories of archival and family history material. When it was decided that the Museum would temporarily close, we made a conscious decision to engage our volunteers remotely. This experience has been so positive; maintaining engagement with our collection providing a sense of normality and connectedness to others.

Alexandra Davis, Education Project Officer

Our volunteers are the heart and soul of our education programs at the Museum. I’m in awe of the wisdom they hold, and the passion they display each time they start their journey in our Timeline of Jewish History gallery and end by leading a Kabbalat Shabbat. No matter how many times they’ve done it before, they know they only get one chance to instil a sense of wonder, respect and understanding of Judaism in the students who visit.

Tamar Simons, Education & Programs Manager

Our walks volunteer is a living treasure! For years, she’s dedicated her Sundays to guiding the most wonderful tours that uncover how the Jewish community has contributed to this city we call home. Her generosity in sharing stories enlivens the experience for our visitors, and we are eternally grateful for her.

Katherine Bruce, Visitor Services & Volunteer Coordinator

As two parts of a whole, we’ve been hit hard by COVID-19: our volunteers have been forced to stop what provides them with fulfilment, and we’ve lost the capacity to share their stories. But we’re excited to engage our amazing volunteers with the plans we’ve developed while working from home, and see them once more involved with the programs that bring joy to their lives and those of visitors alike.