Eddie Jaku OAM z"l. Photograph by Louise Kennerley/SMH.
It was with immense sadness that we, along with the whole Australian Jewish community, learnt of the recent passing of Eddie Jaku OAM z"l, at the age of 101. A stalwart of the Australian Jewish community, Eddie was known for his exuberant and infectiously joyful approach to life (which he often credited as the reason behind his good health and longevity), despite the inconceivable horrors he endured during the Holocaust.
Eddie was steadfast in his refusal to return to Poland and/or Germany and although he declined numerous invitations to join us on March of the Living, we were most honoured and privileged to have him speak to our Student and Adult delegations on many occasions prior to their departure, where he shared his life's story, testimony and life messages and lessons so openly, honestly and sensitively, as he did with so many people for so many decades.
In tribute to Eddie, we are honoured to share some moving thoughts we received from members of our MOTL community about Eddie:
"Eddie Jaku was a very close friend of mine and we spent many hours chatting on various topics.
Eddie was adamant that we Holocaust Survivors should teach upcoming generations not to HATE.
He would say "Hate is a disease" - hate destroys others, but in the end it poisons you and destroys you in the process.
He extended his friendship to others free of prejudice and animosity. Anyone coming in contact with Eddie walked away as his friend.
It was my privilege to be Eddie's friend."
- George Sternfeld (Child Holocaust Survivor)
"On behalf of the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors & Descendants, I am privileged to take part in the tribute to Eddie Jaku OAM z"l organised by March of The Living, Australia...... It was Eddie's passion and obvious enjoyment imparting his story to others which endeared him to us and everyone who met him. His message is timeless, and his memory will live long in the world well beyond the Jewish people."
- George Foster,
President of the Australian Association of
Jewish Holocaust Survivors & Descendants
"Even though I have never met Eddie, I feel like I know him through his book, 'The Happiest Man On Earth'. He had many quotes that touched my heart as well as educating me with everyday life. One quote/paragraph that really stayed with me is: "We used to be invited to parties. They would have a buffet and I would wait till everybody had eaten. I would never push myself first. My wife would say 'Kuba, why don't you go and eat?' Because I had been in camp waiting for food. I don't have to do that anymore. I am in a country with enough food. Why should I fight for it?"
This quote has a lot of meaning as do a lot of other quotes Eddie shared. I have learnt a lot."
- Fross Driscoll (2019 Adult Participant)
It is difficult, if not impossible, to wholly represent the incredible life and legacy of such an inspiring person – in the absence of doing so here, we humbly offer the below video, a TED talk Eddie delivered in May 2019 in Sydney, which so succinctly and eloquently encapsulates his amazing life's journey and inspirational approach to life itself. To quote Eddie:
"…a wish from my heart to all your hearts: May you always have lots of love to share, lots of good health to spare, and lots of good friends that care".
We extend our sincerest and deepest condolences to Eddie's entire family, and wish them much strength and inner peace at this difficult time. May Eddie's legacy, memory, life and light be a blessing to us all.