Jewish man feared dead in fires is found


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A 90-year-old Jewish man feared dead in Australia’s worst bush fires has been found.

Eugene Goodvach had visited his country property in Marysville, a small Victorian country town reduced to smoldering ash in the firestorm that killed more than 180 people, on Feb. 7.

Goodvach’s family was unable to contact him a week ago and feared the worst. But they learned over the weekend that he was evacuated by emergency personnel to a nearby town, according to reports.

Officials expect the death toll to top 230 because many people are believed to have been incinerated in the inferno. Among the dead is John Barnett, a Jewish academic, who died with his wife, Jenny, as they tried to flee the fire in their car.

Marysville, which is less than 100 miles north of Melbourne, has become known as the ground zero of the inferno; about 100 of the town’s population of nearly 500 were killed in the firestorm.

Orthodox Jews have celebrated Passover in Marysville for the past two decades at a local retreat that has been razed.

Meanwhile, Australians have raised more than $65 million for the disaster relief fund. The Westfield Group, owned by Holocaust survivor Frank Lowy, donated $650,000, as did the Gandel Group, owned by Jewish philanthropist John Gandel.

Richard Pratt’s family foundation pledged $165,000, and will match his Visy Group employees’ donations. Jewish National Fund patron Harry Triguboff, who won a court battle this week saving him $130,000 in land tax, said he would donate the amount to the fund. Leonard Cohen, who has been touring Victoria, also donated $130,000.

Special prayer services were held in synagogues in Melbourne on Feb. 12 and 13, and included a recital of Kaddish for the victims.

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