The consecration of the tombstone of Gregory Michael Sher took place on Sunday, 13th September at Chevra Kadisha Cemetery, Victoria.
Greg’s family was joined by his many friends and members of the Jewish community who had gathered to dedicate the headstone erected in his loving memory. Also in attendance were Greg’s army friends, commanders and official representatives Lt-Gen. Ken Gillespie (Chief of the Australian Army), and Maj-Gen. Tim McOwan (Commander of Special Operations Australia).
Joe Krycer, head of JNF Victoria, spoke about the selflessness displayed by Greg as demonstrated by his sacrifice in the name of his country, Australia. He also spoke about the challenges faced by soldiers in the service of free nations.
The Jewish National Fund (JNF) sourced 24 Mediterranean Cypress trees that were to be planted along the path leading to the cemetery gates.
Rabbi Genende, Chief Rabbi to the Australian Defence Force, recited a prayer for the welfare of those in the military as well as a prayer for rain. This was accompanied by Rabbi Link’s blessing for trees.
At the conclusion of the prayers, those attending were invited to plant these 24 trees, including those donated by the Sher family, in order to honour the memory of Greg.
Mourners then proceeded to the graveside where Rabbi Genende conducted the official consecration service in cooperation with Rabbi Heilbrunn. The words inscribed on the headstone were read aloud to those present, emphasising the great loss felt by all. Greg’s father, Felix, conveyed on behalf of his family his thanks and gratitude to all those individuals and organisations who had attended or contributed towards commemorating the memory of Greg. He also recounted some memories of how Greg chose to live his life, highlighting his humble nature and inclination to help others. You can read the full speech here.
In an extremely generous honour bestowed upon Greg by his Commanding Officer (CO) and Regimental Sergeant-Major (RSM), he was posthumously presented with the very first example of the new beret to be worn by soldiers of the 1st Commando Regiment.
Following recital of the national anthem, some mourners placed a stone on Greg’s grave as a sign of their presence, while his army buddies laid poppies as a mark of remembrance and memorial for a fallen comrade.
Photos by Darren Milner