Sender Burstin (1903-1986)

Sender Burstin

Staunch advocate for the use of Yiddish in Australia and tireless social welfare worker for the Jewish community, Sender Burstin was born in Makov, Poland in 1903. From his earliest years Sender was committed to the socialist ideals of the Bund. In pre-war Poland he held a paid position for a period of time for Tsukunft, a Bund youth organization founded in 1919 which organized summer camps, drama clubs and various cultural activities.

Unable to secure more regular employment and in search of better opportunities, he decided to immigrate to Australia, arriving in 1928. On arrival he was met by the ‘Welcome Society’ and spent his first night on Australian soil in a room above the Lipski cafe in Carlton. His wife, Fajge, joined him one year later. Sender initially worked with Meir Silman in sock manufacturing and later went on to establish his own sock manufacturing business.

On arrival in Melbourne Sender immediately became involved in the Yiddish community. He was an inaugural committee member of the Bund in Melbourne in 1928. In 1931 he co-founded the Gezerd, a group that operated alongside the Kadimah for a number of years. In 1935 he was on the founding committee for the establishment of the I.L. Peretz Yiddish Sunday School. He remained involved in the Yiddish school movement for the next forty-nine years and held the presidency of the I.L. Peretz School from its establishment until its closure in 1985. Sender was one of the six founding donors that helped to establish the Sholem Aleichem College.

In October 1947 he joined the inaugural editorial committee of Unzer Gedank the Bundist publication. Between 1952 and 1975 Sender held various positions on the Board of the Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society, including the vice presidency in 1967­­-1968. He was also  active on the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies. Sender Burstin served as a President of the Bund and was President of the Kadimah for a total of fifteen years from 1953-1973.

He died on 24 February 1986. He had three sons, Ben, Maurice and David.

Sources:  A Celebration of Yiddish, published by the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University, 16 October 2004; Rodney Benjamin A Serious Influx of Jews, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1998; David Burstin (son).