Respected Doctor, Veteran, OAM, Lou Levy 1912-2002, obituary by Michael Danby published in the Australian Jewish News, 16 August 2002.
One of Adelaide’s longest practicing doctors Lou Levy (Elijah Haim Levy) died in Darwin while on a family holiday. His passing followed shortly after he celebrated his 90th birthday at a party organized by his daughters Carmela, Naomi and Sharon.
This event was a memorable gathering of medical colleagues, former nursing staff, neighbours, family and friends from South Australia, Melbourne and overseas. His late wife, Esther, was there in spirit and in a portrait of her as a three year old, painted by Boris Pasternak’s father Leonid, in Moscow in 1920.
In his native Latvia, Lou’s father, Reb Moshe, and his mother, Batsheva, foresaw the world conflict sparked by Hitler. Moreover Jews in Latvia were barred from studying professions in Riga’s universities. So Lou was sent to Scotland where he gained entry to medical school and perfected his precise English.
In November 1939 Lou traveled across a devastated Poland to Germany, then through Austria to Fascist Italy in order to board the ferry from Trieste to British-mandated Palestine. Even the implacable Lou must have sweated on this journey, with his magic pudding tucked under his arm. That pudding, or pie, contained money baked into the middle by his mother. Lou missed the Trieste ferry by a few hours. Somehow he survived the week without money and finally made it to British-ruled Palestine.
There, in Tel Aviv in 1940, the vivacious Esther caught his eye. They pledged their love to each other but as he could not obtain a landing permit for his parents he continued on his journey. “I decided to try my luck in Australia, having an entry permit to that country,” he wrote in his memoirs. His brother Len was already in Melbourne.
Soon after his arrival he proposed by letter to Esther. Weeks later, after having flown on one of the last Catalina flying boats to cross Asia before the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbour and Singapore, Esther arrived in Adelaide in December 1941. The marriage took place at Adelaide synagogue on January 4, 1942. Instead of enjoying a prolonged honeymoon, Lou, who took his duties very seriously, joined the Australian Army taking him away from his new bride for several years.
Lou created a new life in the Australia that he immediately grew to love for the opportunities that no other country had provide him; he was instrumental in establishing and building a number of new institutions, including a large family medical practice and Jewish educational organizations. He deservedly earned the love, respect and honour of both the Jewish and wider communities, who in 1992 bestowed on him the Order of Australia Medal for his services to medicine and the Jewish community.
As his daughters concluded in their obituary: “We all expected and wished him to live forever. It is still difficult to believe that he was unable to rally one more time. There are no words to express the profound pain and depth of his loss to all of us”.