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Celebrating 175 Years – Iconic Acland St Cafe Scheherazade started with a Jewish Care loan

Jewish Care Victoria 2 mins read

Media Release


8 August 2023


Celebrating 175 Years - Iconic Acland St Café Scheherazade started with a Jewish Care loan


For 175 years, Jewish Care has responded to community needs and provided care and support to the most vulnerable in the Victorian Jewish community. Jewish Care will celebrate its 175th Anniversary on 19 November 2023 and is the oldest continually running philanthropic organisation in Melbourne.


The Melbourne Jewish Philanthropic Society was founded in 1848 by Jewish philanthropists at the Rainbow Tavern in Swanston Street to support Jewish immigrants arriving in Melbourne – when the community only numbered 200 people.


Professor John Zeleznikow's family received help from the Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society when they arrived in Melbourne as refugees from Europe in 1951. Volunteers met them as they disembarked at Station Pier and helped them find accommodation and work.


“My parents, Avram and Masha Zeleznikow z’l received an interest-free loan from Jewish Welfare to purchase a cafe in St Kilda and called it Café Scheherazade – which became an iconic cultural institution in St Kilda and a refuge for many Holocaust survivors,” said Professor John Zeleznikow.


“This financial support was pivotal to my parents establishing a successful and profitable business which enabled them to give back to the community that supported them.”


Professor John Zeleznikow has volunteered with Jewish Care for an incredible 50 years and in 1973, he was the youngest person at 23 to be appointed to the Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society Board, one of Jewish Care’s predecessor organisations. Today, John sits on Jewish Care’s Quality & Service Review Board Committee.


An avid athlete, John has completed 200 marathons since 1971 in many countries around the world and has raised thousands of dollars for Jewish Care in the process.


Jewish Care Chief Executive, Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly said “We are extremely lucky to have dedicated community members like John, who donate their valuable time to improve the lives of others in our community.”


“The success of Jewish Care can be attributed to the support it receives from the close-knit community and its ability to adapt and evolve to ensure it remains relevant to the needs of the Jewish community,” added Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly.


In the 2022 financial year, Jewish Care received over 13,000 calls for assistance and provided 222 families with financial aid to cover essential expenses.


“This year, the Jewish community donated an incredible $3.84 million dollars through Jewish Care’s Annual Appeal, which supports vulnerable members of the community experiencing housing insecurity, unemployment, financial issues, family violence, mental health issues and parenting concerns,” said Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly.


These programs receive little or no government funding and it is through the generosity of the community that Jewish Care is able to provide these essential services


Today, the Jewish community numbers 50,000 as a result of post-war immigration. Priorities have shifted from initial resettlement to supporting the community with social services, residential and community-based aged care, disability support and Holocaust survivor programs.




Professor John Zeleznikow is available for an interview until 19 August and a longer story is available on request.


Media contact:

Rosanne McMaster, Communications Specialist

Tel. (03) 8517 5718 / 04141805434   Email:


Website: : Twitter @jewishcarevic






Key Facts:

For 175 years, Jewish Care has responded to community needs and provided care and support to the most vulnerable in the Jewish community.

Contact details:

Media contact: Rosanne McMaster, Communication Specialist 

0414805434 or


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