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In Gratitude: Max Shnider z”l

2000 Yakir Keren Hayesod Award recipient

Melbourne, Australia


As we mark the  shloshim of the passing of Max Shnider z”l, a great leader of Keren Hayesod and UIA Australia, we bring you two messages from UIA Victoria leadership.
Max was a person who everybody turned to for good advice, a friendly conversation or an incisive analysis of Jewish and Israeli affairs. We already miss his energy, enthusiasm and inexhaustible love for Israel.

Max Shnider

Jerusalem, June 2012: KH Annual World Conference – from left to right: Max Shnider z”lLeida Shnider and KH Director for English-speaking countries Irit Barash.

A message from UIA Victoria President Shlomo Werdiger:

The UIA community is saddened at the loss of one of its statesmen and campaign veterans. Over the years Max has been campaign Chairman, Yakir award recipient, canvasser, counsellor, nurturer and a team player both here and in Israel, who often achieved results through his respect for all, his dignity and of course his tireless and unconditional commitment to Israel. His wise counsel will be sorely missed. His legacy lives on in the people he inspired and nurtured to work for and give to UIA and of course the beneficiaries of his own philanthropy.

A message from former UIA Victoria President and 2007 Yakir Keren Hayesod Award recipient Jack Smorgon AO:

I have had a long association with the late Max Shnider. I was not involved directly with the Executive of Keren Hayesod during Max’s term as Chairman of UIA Victoria, so my major involvement with Max was after I became involved on the Executive in 1995 and became Chairman the following year. At that time, I started to visit the KH meetings in Israel and also attended with Max meetings of the Jewish Agency for Israel. In addition to both of those organisations, Max was the inaugural Co-Chairman of the Arava Australian Partnership, under what was then called Partnership 2000 and today goes under the name of Partnership 2Gether (P2G). I used to go down to the Arava with Max and attend the meetings of the Steering Committee and when Max was unable to visit Israel more than once a year due to Leida’s condition, I was fortunate enough to take over from him each of the roles that he had been performing in the Partnership, KH and the Jewish Agency. I learned a lot from Max during the time we spent together and valued his friendship very dearly. In addition to the meetings in the Arava, we were also both involved with the Arava Partnership in Australia and attended many meetings together. I considered Max to be young for his years and it was a great surprise and disappointment to hear that he was so ill with cancer. He did not last long and I think it was a blessing that he did not suffer. I will remember his friendship and our relationship for the rest of my days.

As a tribute to his memory, we again bring you an interview he gave to our website two years ago, during his stay in Jerusalem for the 2012 KH-UIA Annual World Conference.

We meet Max Shnider at the KH World Headquarters on a hot June day, but it seems that nothing can suppress his energy and vigour. Max is making his annual trip to Israel and we chat about his decades of leadership at UIA Victoria and UIA Australia in general. “I started working for Keren Hayesod in 1968”, he recalls. “Everybody was euphoric after the Six-Day War and the liberation of Jerusalem”. Max became a first-line leader in no time, was amongst the founders of Partnership 2000 and established the partnership between UIA Australia and Central Arava, which is still active and producing impressive results.

Max has very deep roots in Israel: his father’s family settled here in the 19th century, and his mother’s ancestors came already in the 18th. His parents relocated to Australia when he was a baby, but as he puts it: “Every trip to Israel is like coming home”.

To Max, the issue of Jewish continuity is central. “For my generation, supporting Israel was as natural as breathing. For my children and grandchildren, it’s also natural, because of my connection to Israel. They have visited the country and are in close contact with their family here. The younger generations, however, are acculturated and the dichotomy between their nationality, the country they live in, and their responsibility to Israel becomes ever more apparent. You see that very strongly in the USA, for instance”. Max says that he is “afraid that without some concrete way of tying the new generations to Israel, they will lose their personal connection to the Jewish state”. This is exactly where Keren Hayesod steps in, however. “Keren Hayesod has all those important projects about aliyah and Jewish continuity. Once you stabilize that bond, things will keep going on a steady basis”.

The long relationship between Max Shnider and Keren Hayesod is very strong: “Personally, I’ve had an enormous amount of satisfaction working for KH, and not only as a donor; it’s a very rewarding feeling to know that you’ve been doing something useful with your life. KH has kept me young, mentally alert, and with a good reason to get out of my bed in the morning”.

Max was awarded the Yakir Keren Hayesod Award in 2000. A honourary life Governor of UIA Australia.
The worldwide family of Keren Hayesod thanks him for decades of generosity, leadership and vision. May his memory be a blessing.