Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove comes to visit ‘True Jews and Patriots’

August 12, 2015

Image credit: Peter Haskin AJN

The Museum was honoured to host a private viewing of the True Jews and Patriots: Australian Jews and WWI exhibition for Governor General Sir Peter and Lady Lynne Cosgrove, led by Museum director Rebecca Forgasz, Museum president Barry Fradkin and president of the Victorian Association of Jewish Ex & Servicemen & Women (VAJEX), Judy Landau.

A highlight of the tour was a viewing of the Sephardi-style Sefer Torah, given to the Australian Jewish Army Chaplain, David Freedman, by the leader of Egypt’s Jewish community, Moshe Catui Pasha. This object reflects both the Jewish diggers’ ability to keep their faith and the Jewish chaplains’ role during the Great War.

A former top military commander himself (General Cosgrove was chief of the defence force 2002-2005, and chief of army from 2000-2002, and is a retired general) the Governor General revealed a keen interest in the life and times of Sir John Monash, and was suitably impressed by the Monash exhibit.

Sir Cosgrove regaled his hosts with his rich knowledge surrounding Monash’s life, even relating a little known anecdote:

Did you know that during the war, the venerable General went on a rigorous diet, to achieve physical fitness, and maintain optimum physical and mental performance?

Describing the general as “the most famous Australian general ever,” the Governor General’ expressed wonder at the exhibition, relating how prior to his visit, he’d had “a layman’s idea of participation of Australian Jews in the struggle in WWI” But that True Jews and Patriots had proven to be “a real eye opener.”