Harvey Livschitz fits the description for a Ner Tamid award winner perfectly.
The Union of Progressive Jewish Associations’ award goes to the “unsung heroes” of the community.
“Unsung heroes” are defined as those members of a congregation in Australia or New Zealand perform exceptional service to their community.
It took several attempts to get Harvey Livschitz to talk about what he had done for the Beth Shalom congregation over the 20 years he had lived in Auckland.
“It’s the way I am. I just do it,” he said.
Eventually, he started to talk and with the help of other Beth Shalom contacts, his contribution was revealed.
His favourite responsibility was being involved with outreach. Busloads of Catholic secondary school students come to Beth Shalom to see and learn about the synagogue, sometimes two a day.
Harvey showed them around, informing them about what they are seeing. He did this job for all his years in Auckland and had “quite a following” among the students.
Another activity was heading the congregation’s ritual committee, especially doing the large amount of organization required for the high holydays. He also did lots of work around the building making sure all the small maintenance jobs were done.
The list goes on. He organized the supplies of hallah for he synagogue. When the commercial supplier went out of business, he found a community member to make the hallahs.
“I’ve always insisted that the community comes first,” Harvey said. “If I can direct a small job to someone who needs the money, rather than a commercial concern, that’s important.”
Then there were the other things, like organizing a bike riding group for members of the community.
And arranging for the inscriptions on Beth Shalom’s striking tree of life. The tree of life hangs in the foyer at Beth Shalom and publicizes important life events of congregation members.
Harvey, his wife Jenny and daughter Sarah have recently settled in Wellington and are now members of Temple Sinai.
His quiet contribution to the Auckland community will be missed so that it is fitting that his Ner Tamid award will be presented next year at Beth Shalom.
Article by Ruth Thomas