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Over 30 volunteers attended our first Volunteer Morning Tea of the year to catch up with each other and hear from two inspirational individuals. Our first speaker, Upstander Talya Rotman founder of Loom for Life showed us that no one is ever too young to make a positive impact in our community.

Empowered by the belief that age is no barrier to making a difference, Talya walked into her 7-year-old daughter’s room soon after the October 7 terror attacks in Israel and suggested that they raise money for Israel as way to deal with their own sadness and trauma. Realising the need for a village, Talya and Asher summoned their friends to join them and what began as a modest weekend project evolved into something greater.

The “loom band” embodies a single rubber circle, evolving from the circle of life into a bracelet when hand linked. This concept empowered kids to create and sell bracelets, providing a meaningful channel for those wanting to support Israel. It engaged the next generation in fundraising, highlighting the impact of collective efforts.

Proudly, the kids raised over $8,170 by selling 1,000+ handmade loom bracelets, contributing 100% of the funds to Magen David Adom, United Israel Appeal, Arava Project, and CSG for their respective causes.

Building on the success, another initiative, “Loom for Light,” was launched. During a special 8-day event over Chanukah, The Victorian Jewish community joined forces, connecting over 11,000 blue and white loom bands into 110 one-meter looms. Utilizing all the looms, a magnificent mural for peace will be curated (see image below of the mural in progress).

The mural’s objective is to secure an extra $18,000 for WIZO Victoria, allocating 100% of the funds to construct a new sensory motor room in an Israeli daycare center. This will provide aid and support to children navigating trauma, addressing a critical need amid the current situation in Israel.

If you would like to support Loom for Life you can click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

Our second speaker was our very own Peter Gaspar OAM. Peter has just returned from Hong Kong where he was the keynote speaker at United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Day on 25 January. Peter, accompanied by his wife Lesley also visited schools and community centres where Peter shared his story of survival with 100’s of students.

Peter was highly impressed with the respect and decorum of the students he met at his presentations. Peter’s schedule was jam packed and he did not miss an opportunity to present his story despite the emotional toll it can take on him. Peter is a volunteer in the true sense of the word, always going the extra mile whether it be in Melbourne or Hong Kong. Our volunteers enjoyed hearing from Peter about his encounters with students and the Hong Kong school system particularly given the influence of the mainland Chinese Government.

Peter was also interviewed by various media outlets, and you can watch a video of Peter’ speech at the UN Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony by clicking here.

As one of our volunteers remarked: about the volunteer morning tea: “enjoyed today’s volunteers morning and listening to Talya and Peter- both inspirational in their particular ways of volunteering.”

We were also very lucky to have all three of our volunteers Barbara Kessel OAM, Peter Gaspar OAM & Lesley Gaspar OAM in attendance at the morning tea. This was a lovely opportunity to acknowledge them all in person since being recognised on Australia Day and to wish them a hearty mazeltov!

Please enjoy the images below from this special morning.


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