Woman Fink, Miriam

Charity Worker
Alternative Names
  • Fink, Mina

Written by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University

Mina Fink was born in Poland in 1913, the second of three children of merchant, Nathan Waks and his wife, Freda. Orphaned at the age of eight she was raised by her grandparents and completed her secondary education prior to marrying merchant, Leo Fink, in 1932, and returning with him to Melbourne. The mother of two children she also assisted her siblings to migrate to Australia.

Fink became involved in assisting the Jewish community during World War II, as director from 1943 of the United Jewish Overseas Relief Fund. As president of its Ladies Group from 1945 she co-ordinated the fund-raising and relief to be despatched overseas, met refugees on their arrival at Port Melbourne and supervised the hostels established for their initial reception. She took a particular interest in child refugees, and was known as the 'Mother of the Buchenwald Boys' who settled in Melbourne after the war.

As professional social workers took over many of the roles Fink had performed through her involvement with the fund's successor organisation, the Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society, she turned her attention to the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), rising to the position of national president in 1967. Understanding that the new generation of Jewish women had less time for volunteering, Fink set in place a succession plan, setting aside funds to pay for professionals to take many of the tasks, and targetting key women to take over leadership roles [(Miriam's Topical Topics].

A major donor to the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre in Melbourne, Fink requested that the museum building be named in honour of her husband who died in 1972. She was awarded the OBE in 1974. After she died in 1990, the NCJW established a leadership development fund in her honour.

Archival Resources

The University of Melbourne Archives

  • Leo and Mina Fink papers, 1943 - 1988, 1990.0091; The University of Melbourne Archives. Details

Published Resources

Journal Articles

  • Rutland, Suzanne, 'Perspectives from the Australian Jewish community', Lilith: A Feminist History Journal, vol. 11, 2002, pp. 87-101. Details

Online Resources

See also