What is it?

In 1994 two sizeable bequests were made to Beth Shalom for two connected yet different purposes.  The first was a bequest of $15,000 by Rudi Byttiner, a Holocaust survivor and long standing member of Beth Shalom “to benefit the Hebrew School”.  The second, for $20,000 was by Alice Erman

From its conception until late 2009, $30,000 has been awarded to Beth Shalom members.

Although on their own these amounts may appear relatively small, by combining the two bequests we have been able to ensure that many people have benefitted.  It is important that we remember these benefactors.

The time is appropriate as we have just passed the point where the total money awarded from the fund has passed the $30,000 mark. The money came from the interest earned on the bequests.

Rudi Byttiner

Sonja Rosen and Norma Delgarno provided me with their memories of Rudi.  Rudi arrived in New Zealand at the same time as Sonja’s Dad Jack Rosen, in 1933, having come originally from Austria. After a time in a shirt making business Rudi worked at Farmers in the Menswear Department.  He was at the Rosen household every weekend for many years and became a close friend of Jack’s.

Originally he attended the Auckland Hebrew Congregation but after the formation of the Beth Shalom community he joined and became a “regular” at Shabbat services.  Rudi very much enjoyed being part of the community and he apparently was a meticulous dresser who had a dry sense of humour.

His first wife was a photographer who worked under the name of “Bettina”.  Selma Han, a medical doctor from Czechoslovakia, was his second wife.  She was a survivor of the Nazi camps, coming to New Zealand after the war and had to go to Otago University to requalify in medicine before she could practise here.  Rudi and Selma married in the late 1950s.  Selma’s beautiful engraved candlesticks were donated to Beth Shalom when Rudi died and are used from time to time.

Alice Erman

Alice Erman was also a Holocaust survivor and she left the bulk of her estate to the Auckland Zionist Society in what is now known as “The Erman Trust”. This trust helps fund young NZ Jews go on courses in Israel.  As well as this larger amount of money, Alice Erman also left $20,000 to Beth Shalom as well as many other charitable organisations within the community. Community organisations such as  the Auckland Cancer Society and Friends of the Deaf also benefitted from her generosity.

Born Alice Löwy in Vienna, Austria in 1902, she married Julius Charles Erman in 1936, also born in Vienna and together they immigrated to Kenya.  In 1972 they came to New Zealand to join Alice’s only living relatives, her sister Leontine and husband Dr Reishmann.  The Ermans lived in Victoria Avenue, Remuera and in 1990 Alice moved to Lady Alice Rest Home.  Husband Julius died in 1979, while Alice herself died in 1994. Alice was the beneficiary not only of her husband Julius, but also of the Reishmanns.  In her earlier years Alice was a kindergarten teacher and her favourite pastime was reading.

The community has much to thank her for. Neither Rudi nor Alice had any children.

Community meeting decided how to set up the structure

At the time the bequests were received, a community meeting was held to agree on a framework under which this fund would operate.  It was agreed that only the interest in any year be spent and that as far as possible, the allocation of funds should roughly reflect the purpose of each bequest.

Money for the Hebrew School has been used to buy books and resources, assist in sending teachers to Limmud Oz and on other courses of learning for professional development and assisting with costs associated with seniors’ trips to Wellington.

Interest on the “Erman money” has been used to assist many of our young people going on courses to Israel, about 12 at last count.  Money has also been used to help meet expenses of people who have been brought to Auckland to give workshops, community events and the like.

The Precious Legacy exhibition at the Auckland Museum was another beneficiary of this fund, since it was deemed to come within the context of “Jewish education” for the wider community.  One of the criteria for receiving funding is that the Beth Shalom or greater Jewish community should benefit from the recipient’s course of learning in some way.  All members of Beth Shalom and their families are eligible to apply for funding.  However, money will not be granted for instance where an applicant wishes to pursue a personal course of study.  The community must benefit in some way.  Recipients can choose what they do for the community and the area of their commitment is matched to the skills and interests of the beneficiary wherever possible.

How to apply to the fund – deadlines

The Fund is administered by a committee, currently made up of Jude Berman, John Pezaro, David Robinson and Claire Bruell.  As a sub committee of the Board of Management, all decisions made are subject to the approval of the Board.  Because there is a process to be followed when making an application and in the interests of streamlining the application process, there will be 3 cut off dates in each year which is the date by which applications must be in for funds required in the following 4 months.

These dates are the 31 October, 28 February and 30 June.

That means that any person applying for funds needed between July and October, must have their application in by 30 June and so on.  Any person considering going on programmes to Israel in 2010 should have their applications in by 31 October or earlier, even if their other arrangements are not yet in place.  There are application forms which can be obtained from the Shul office or from Jude Berman or Claire Bruell.

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