Naomi Moldofsky: Passionate Economist Who Championed Freedom of Thought

Monday, 4 November 2013
My Tribute to my mother now published in the Sydney Morning Herald

NAOMI MOLDOFSKY UNKNOWN-2013

A plaque on the door of Dr Naomi Moldofsky’s office summed up her attitude to life: ”All men are created equal; it’s what they’re equal to that counts.”
Moldofsky worked as a lecturer and then senior lecturer in economics at the University of Melbourne from 1969 to 1990. She was a passionate teacher and researcher who championed freedom of thought and action within the rule of law. As she would often quote: ”One person’s freedom ends where another’s nose begins.”
She was privileged to discuss ideas with Nobel laureate Friedrich August Hayek and philosopher of science Sir Karl Popper, and was instrumental in getting Hayek to Melbourne in 1976. Professor Milton Friedman supported her membership of the classical liberal Mont Pelerin Society. Long-time colleague Maurice Newman, the former ABC and Australian Stock Exchange chairman, recalled their common belief in an open society and individual liberty. Moldofsky was only ”too aware of the dangers posed by centralised authority and conceited politicians”, he said.
”She opposed it always and everywhere. Her intellect and the rigour of her arguments meant she was a formidable opponent in a debate. That said, she was, no matter the provocation, unwaveringly courteous and polite. Her contribution to economic thought is of the highest order and her writings will endure the test of time.”

Naomi Gross, born in Tel Aviv, was the first of two children of Berl Dov Gross and his wife, Chana (nee Cytrynowski), who had left Poland for Palestine in the mid-1920s.
Her father’s laundry in Jaffah was burnt down during the Arab riots of the 1930s, leaving the family without an income. According to family lore, he went to the harbour, where one ship was leaving for South America and another for Australia. It was the eve of World War II and, fortunately, he chose the vessel heading for Melbourne. It was several years before he re-established his own laundry and could afford to purchase even one ticket, for Moldofsky to join him.
After matriculating from Taylors College, Moldofsky did a commerce degree at the University of Melbourne then won a research scholarship to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She then travelled through Europe to Canada, where she met Sydney Moldofsky. They were married in 1958 and she began an economic history master’s degree at McGill University, completing it just after her first child was born.
She then embarked on a part-time PhD focused on problems of economic development. Her second child was born before she completed her studies in 1968. She joined the University of Melbourne and, as an academic, found her calling. Her areas of interest included micro economics, comparative economic systems and Marxian economics.
Naomi Moldofsky is survived by daughters Shira and Leora and grandchildren Raphael, Gabriel, Jonathan, Ariel and Emma.
Shira Sebban
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/naomi-moldofsky-passionate-economist-who-championed-freedom-of-thought-20131104-2wwuo.html#ixzz2jkLolvJD

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Author: Shira Sebban

I am a writer and editor who is passionate about exploring the challenges life throws at us through my writing. A former journalist, I previously worked in publishing and taught French to university students. I am also vice-president of my children’s school. My work has appeared in online and print publications including Eureka Street, Jewish Literary Journal, The Forward, Alzheimer's Reading Room and Online Opinion.

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