By Ruth Thomas…
Ted Friedlander’s death in January was a loss not only to the Dunedin Jewish community but also to the business and arts community.
Ninety-five-year-old Mr Friedlander was awarded the prestigious Union of Progressive Judaism’s Ner Tamid award for unsung Jewish heroes late last year. When asked about what he had done for the Dunedin Jewish community, his answer was “Everything.”
And it was “everything.” From 1955 to 2008 he served as secretary under seven congregation presidents. He was also the welcoming face for the congregation, the communications person, the treasurer and dealt with all external communication. In the 1990s, with the then president he helped bring a Russian immigrant family to Dunedin and settle into the community.
Perhaps one of his most important acts was to do with the synagogue building. He organised the maintenance of the old synagogue and was part of the group who supervised the shift to Dunedin’s third new synagogue. He also set up a trust that administers bequests to the community for the continued maintenance of the synagogue building and Hebrew School.
This set the tiny Dunedin community up financially and left them mortgage free.
“He will be sadly missed,” a longtime Dunedin congregation member said. “It was Ted we turned to in times of difficulties. He was a superb statesman and his advice was always sought.”
It will not only be the Jewish community who will miss Ted Friedlander’s contribution.
The son of Max Friedlander and Enid Hallenstein, he started work as a 17-year-old sweeping floors and cleaning windows at Hallensteins’ Octagon branch.
He was the fourth generation of his family to work for Hallensteins and worked as a salesman before managing stores in Hamilton and Hastings. In 1954, he became an executive director and managing director and chairman of the board in 1977 until retiring in 1989.
During that time, he expanded the business to 50 stores with a branch in every New Zealand town with a population of 20,000 or more. Later he oversaw the formation of Hallenstein properties Ld and the amalgamation with Glassons, the genesis of today’s Hallenstein Glassons Ltd.
He was also a director of DIC and president of both the Otago and NZ Retailers Association and in 1995 his achievements in business were recognised with his induction into the Business Hall of Fame.
In 1987, Mr Friedlander was awarded an OBE for services to the community. He felt the reason for this award was his work in ensuring Olveston, where he used to play in the grounds as a boy, as a historic home for the city.
However, he also served for a long period on the Dunedin Art Gallery council and was president for two years. Educated at John McGlashan College, he maintained a connection throughout his life serving on the school’s board for 36 years and was chairman for 14 years.
He is survived by three children, eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren.