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    Neil Glasser MVO – a tribute


    Within days of our landing in Sydney at the end of 1972, Marian and I met Nina and Neil Glasser.

    We still have a vivid memory of our first visit to their home and, to be honest, our sheer wonder and incredulity as we listened and could hardly get a word in edgeways.

    Life in Australia would have been far less exciting – and unpredictable – if the Glassers had not been part of our congregation and indeed of the texture of Sydney as a whole.

    One of the first (and last) things which we discovered was that you couldn’t say No to Neil. Maybe only a third of his ideas were workable, but you had to listen to him and be carried along by his exuberance and persuasiveness.

    We suspect that Buckingham Palace knew that too, and when he came to London and asked the Queen to let him display the Crown Jewels at the Queen Victoria Building, she probably realised that she would need a very sound excuse if she had to say No.

    To this day our children – now in their 40s and 50s – realise exactly who is meant when we talk of Uncle Neil. Neil actually tried to get one of them to establish a business in Israel selling Pose’s Pickles from Melbourne, and I never had the courage to admit to him that we didn’t take the samples to Israel with us in case the jar broke and pickle smells imbued our clothes.

    But maybe I made up for it one Friday night at a Shule dinner just before we left on a trip to Israel when he made me put on his tie, which read, “Happiness is being a grandfather.”

    Only Neil could begin every conversation, “Greetings and Salutations”. Only Neil could leave a package of smoked salmon on our doorstep when he passed by. Only Neil could make a tour de force of finding a statue of Queen Victoria in Ireland and persuading an airline to transport it to Sydney.

    Only Neil could sit at our table on a Saturday night captivating the company with his adventures with British royalty whilst the Israeli Ambassador, Yehuda Avner, was regaling us with his years with Israeli prime ministers. Of course Neil and Yehuda were both talking at the same time!

    Generosity was Neil’s second name all his life. The family know what he did for them. But countless others, whether high-ups like Sir Roden Cutler or thousands of ordinary people, have their own reasons to be thankful for his thoughtfulness.

    He had his favourite people; top of the list is certainly the Queen, whose feeling for Neil was represented by his MVO.

    He had his favourite places, especially in Sydney – the QVB, which would never have recaptured the affection of Sydney’s citizens without Neil; the Town Hall; and certainly the Great Synagogue. When Neil came to Shule the place had an electric feeling.

    When the Shule needed help and support, no-one but Neil had so many brilliant and visionary ideas. To this day I regret that I did not take up a Neil idea to make the Rabbi Falk Memorial Library – named for Nina’s father – one of the real wonders of the world.

    Neil and Nina enriched so many lives, not least their own. We send Nina and the family our loving condolences.

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