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In Gratitude: Saul Same AM z”l

Decades of generosity and leadership

​Melbourne, Australia

Keren Hayesod mourns the loss of Saul Same AM, of Melbourne, Australia

Born in Beer Tuvia (Eretz Israel) as Avshalom Shmulewitz in 1918, at the end of the First World War, Saul moved to Perth, Australia, with his family as a child. A successful businessman and close advisor to top Australian Labor leaders, Saul was a Member of the Order of Australia. He accompanied former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke on several visits to Israel, contributing greatly to the bilateral relations between the two countries.

One of the most extraordinary figures in the world-wide Keren Hayesod-UIA family, Saul created many social and educational projects in Israel. In 1992, he was awarded Keren Hayesod’s Israel Goldstein Prize, the highest distinction conferred by our organization, for his distinguished leadership.

Saul Same

President Shimon Peres z”l and Saul Same AM z”l meet at the “Yakir Evening”, as Saul’s Grandson, Joshua, looks on

The Keren Hayesod family in Jerusalem and Australia will greatly miss Saul’s leadership, endless generosity, and unswerving commitment to Israel and the Jewish people.
May his memory be a blessing.

Saul Same

At the KH World Conference in Jerusalem, in June 2012: Saul Same AM z”l with Irit Barash, KH Director of English-speaking Countries and his grandson Joshua.

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

“Every Jew is my family”

We meet Saul Same at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, where he is staying with his grandson Joshua. He has just returned from the Yakir Award ceremony, held as part of the Keren Hayesod-UIA annual World Conference. His handshake reminds you that in his youth, he was a great sportsman, a rower for 9 years in Western Australia.

“I’m pleasantly surprised by Israel today”, he says. “if you had seen life here before, in the early years . . . “. Saul was born in Beer Tuvia in 1918 as Avshalom Shmulewitz, at the end of the First World War (hence his name “Avshalom”, meaning “father of peace”). When he was about five, his family immigrated to Perth, Australia, where they bought a 3,500-acre farm, which eventually grew to 130,000 acres. Mr.Same has fond memories of the farm: “I enjoyed it very much. We had a large number of horses. It was really huge. To go to school, we had to walk five miles each way, every day, and four of those miles were on our property”. The farm is still in active, under his nephew’s management.

Mr. Same became a very successful businessman, as well as a close advisor to top Australian Labor leaders. His close relationship with former Prime Minister Bob Hawke (1983 to 1991) is well-known. He accompanied the premier on several visits to Israel, contributing greatly to the bilateral relations between the two countries. “I was once in the USA”, he recalls, “when Bob Hawke called. He told me he was going to Israel, and asked ‘Would you like to join me’? At first I said I couldn’t, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I didn’t fight too hard either, so we traveled together. I still remember how we celebrated Australia Day at the King David Hotel”. On another occasion, nine people arrived to the house of Bob Hawke to write a birthday greeting for the Lubavitcher Rabbi. Mr Hawke only wanted five people in the room and insisted that Saul will be one of them.

The two are still in touch, and when Mr. Hawke wrote his memoirs, he dedicated the copy he sent to Saul with the words “To the nicest person in Australia”. When Queen Elizabeth II visited Australia for the inauguration of the new Parliament House in Canberra in 1988, Mr Hawke presented Saul to her as “the most honourable man in Australia”.

As a first-line Keren Hayesod-UIA leader and donor, Saul was honoured, in 1992, with the Israel Goldstein Prize for distinguished leadership, the highest distinction conferred by our organization. “I admired Israel Goldstein so much”, he recalls. “He was a wonderful man, very open. When I received the prize, his widow was there. I remember my granddaughter, dressed very elegantly, presenting her with a big bouquet of flowers”.

Saul Same created a lot of social and educational projects in Israel, some of them together with Isador Magid z”l, another Goldstein Prize recipient (1982). He has visited Israel numerous times. The deep emotion he feels when he recalls his 1991 visit during the First Gulf War, when he visited the places where the Saddam Hussein- launched Scud missiles fell, is palpable: “A terrible sight”, he says more than twenty years later.

When we ask him about the young generation of Jews, Saul Same expresses both concern and confidence: “They are doing a magnificent job”, he says. “Much better than we did, because they have mechanized everything, so it’s much more efficient. Still, I think that the face-to-face dimension of the Campaign has been somewhat eroded. The lesson I draw from so many years of activity is that face-to-face canvassing has helped me to build a better relationship with people.

In one case, I remember that I stopped seeing a long-time large donor who had gotten sick and could not receive me anymore. His daughter told me that because of my close relationship with her father, she would continue giving. In another instance, by personally canvassing a Jewish businessman who was not very involved in Jewish and Israeli affairs, I persuaded him to contribute. Furthermore, some of his non-Jewish partners in his business gave too. This is by all means the best way to deal with people and to win their hearts”.

Time has flown and we have to free Saul for other appointments. “I have a lot a family in Israel”, he says as leaves, “but in truth, every Jew is family to me.”

We have had the privilege of spending a fascinating hour with one of the most extraordinary figures the in worldwide Keren Hayesod-UIA family, and in the Jewish world in general. We all wish him to enjoy his large family in good health and happiness!