Shared Table Project

Shared Table 
The “Shared Table” project fosters ties between Jewish and Muslim women, organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and Muslim Women’s Association. The first cooking session, hosted by North Shore Synagogue, began with a tour of the synagogue led by Rabbi Paul Lewin and included discussion on the similarities between the faiths. Inquiries . 

Shared Table Project is on FACEBOOK or their blog


Child Protection Forum draws 60 leaders

Jeremy Spinak, Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass AO.
Jeremy Spinak, Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass AO.

Over 60 representatives from various organisations attended the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies symposium on child protection.

The purpose of the symposium was to prioritise the development of protocols for child protection for the NSW Jewish community. The protocols will be adopted by all organisations in the NSW Jewish community

The founding principle behind the Task Force into Child Abuse is to ensure the ongoing protection of children in our community from any form of abuse.

The symposium was chaired by Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass, Chair of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Task Force on Child Protection. Other speakers included Dr Kathy Kezelman, President, Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA), Deborah Blackman, Prevention Trainer, EduCare- Protecting our children together, Rabbi Mendel Kastel, CEO Jewish House, and, Lana Carneiro Gomes, Compliance Officer from the Office of the Children’s Guardian, who explained the statutory obligations of community organisations and services in accordance with their Working with Children Check requirements.

A highlight was a panel discussion by representatives from Jewish day schools and Maccabi, sharing examples of child safe policies and practices that they have developed. The session was moderated by Jacquie Seemann Charak, a partner in Employment and Safety at Thomson Geer.

In his closing remarks NSW Jewish Board of Deputies President Jeremy Spinak stressed that the forum was “just a beginning” and that the task force and the community would come together on numerous occasions to collaborate to create protocols and procedures for the entire NSW Jewish community  to ensure that children are able to be in a safe  environment.

You can access either Professor Bettina Cass’s paper or the Dr Cathy Kezelman’s powerpoint slides here.

Israel showed care in a ‘just war’

June plenumA recent report published by a multi-national group of former military experts has defended the actions of the Israel Defence Force in its war against Hamas last year. They include retired Australian Major-General Jim Molan – who will address the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum on Tuesday evening, July 21.

Major-General Molan is one of the most decorated soldiers to have served in the Australian Defence Force. In 2008 he retired after 40 years of service, ranging from command appointments in operations, training, staff and military diplomacy. He served in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, East Timor, Malaysia, Germany and the United States, all in preparation for his most demanding posting to Iraq.

Since retiring in 2008, he has become a sought-after commentator on security and military issues for numerous media outlets and was recently featured across various media outlets stating that the Israel Defence Force went to great lengths to operate within the laws of war: “Israel’s prosecution of Operation Protective Edge not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, it exceeded them significantly, often at cost to Israeli soldiers and citizens.”

In an interview with the ABC, Major-General Molan commended the efforts of the IDF in reducing the number of civilian casualties in Gaza through its air attacks and targeted civilian warnings.

He and his colleagues recently spent a week in Israel meeting with high-ranking politicians, military experts, IDF strategists and soldiers. They concluded that Operation Protective Edge was not a war that Israel sought, and in fact Israel had tried to avoid entering the war. Their report considered the 2014 war a legitimate conflict that was necessary in order to defend Israel’s borders and civilians.

Major-General Molan was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his part in disaster relief operations and was made an Officer in the Order of Australia for his role in Indonesia and East Timor. In 2009 he was recognised as Australian Thinker of the Year. He is married with four adult children.

Major-General Jim Molan will address the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum in Darlinghurst on Tuesday 21 July. Inquiries:

Organ donation, a Jewish perspective

Around 1700 Australians are on organ transplant waiting lists, waiting for a phone call with a matched organ offer, in any month. In 2014, 1117 people were given a second chance at life because of the generosity of 378 organ donors and their families. In the same year nearly 4,000 living and deceased tissue donors enabled over 5,500 Australians to receive essential skin, heart valve, bone and tendon tissue grafts.
Extensive consultation with religious and community leaders and research commissioned by the Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA) has shown that people from a number of cultural and religious communities in Australia are less likely to have made a decision about becoming a donor, or to have discussed their decision with their families.

For many observant Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews, the halachic prohibition of ending a life, or the requirement to return to the earth whole, may have influenced their attitude about the acceptability of donating organs after their death.

The Organ and Tissue Authority was established in 2009 to deliver the Australian Government’s national reform programme to improve organ and tissue donation and transplantation outcomes in Australia. The ‘Donate Life…the greatest gift’ campaign was developed to provide culturally appropriate information about organ and tissue donation to religious and cultural communities and to help more people make an informed decision about organ and tissue donation.

In April 2015, the Sydney Beth Din released a position paper on organ donation after death. The position paper sets out the halachic considerations surrounding organ donation. Ms Yael Cass, Chief Executive Officer of the OTA, welcomes the release of the position paper as an important document that will support members of the Australian Jewish community to make an informed decision about supporting organ donation.

“ We hope that the position paper will help families understand the importance of discussing donation decisions with their families and to feel a sense of comfort that this ruling, or psak, provides support for their decision to proceed with donation in the event of brain death – a decision which is the ultimate act of giving to save the lives of others.”

The paper seeks to reconcile the fundamental Judaic principles of saving a life, and the prohibition against taking a life. This statement by the Beth Din members Rabbi’s Gutnick, Ulman and Chriqui considers the various opinions of halachic ‘death’ as that which occurs when either the heart or the brain fail to function. The statement contends that though both opinions carry halachic weight, the Sydney Beth Din will facilitate halachic organ donation for those families choosing to proceed with donation when their loved one has died following the respiratory brain death pathway.

Ms Cass has spent nearly 30 years working on the development of social policy, with a special emphasis on health funding, service delivery, program evaluation and reform. A key priority of the OTAs over the last two years has been close consultation and engagement with religious and cultural leaders, as respected advocates with their communities, to promote a broad understanding of each religion’s perspective on the merit and benefit of organ donation for transplantation – and the real need for individuals to make a decision about being a donor, ensuring that their family knows and committing to honour the wishes of their loved ones if the rare opportunity to be an organ donor arises.

Ms Cass will address the Plenum alongside Rabbi Ulman who will discuss the Beth Din’s position on organ donation.

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum meeting takes place on Tuesday June 16 at 7.30pm.


Forum on child abuse in Sydney

Bettina Cass
Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass AO.

Over 50 members of the community have signed up for the forum on child abuse which has been organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies June.

It is being held by the Task Force on Child Protection, which the Board of Deputies has set up to focus on the protection of children in Jewish communal institutional settings.

The Task Force is headed by University of NSW Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass AO, who chairs the Board’s Social Justice Committee and contains eminent members of our community who specialise in child protection.
The Task Force will develop and roll-out workshops that will focus on child safety policies and practices, the prevention of child abuse, procedures to protect children against abuse within Jewish institutional and community settings and the mandatory obligation to report to police. The workshops will expand the concept of child protection to include all abuse of children and young people, sexual, emotional and physical.

The workshops will also cover:
(a) advice for professional counselling and training for organisations about Child Safe policies and practices
(b) services for survivors of abuse and their families
(c) developing and widely disseminating across all organisations within the NSW Jewish community a set of agreed protocols for child protection, child safe policies and practices
(d) guidelines for mandatory reporting to the police.
It will also work to ensure that the lessons of the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse are learned that meaningful grassroots change is implemented – which is the objective of next week’s workshop.
For those still wishing to register, please contact Mary Guth or phone 9360 1600. The workshop will t5ake place on Sunday June 21 from 10am to 1pm.

The members of the taskforce and its advisors are:

Chair, Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass AO of the University of NSW and Chair of the Board’s Social Justice Committee;

Dr Cathy Kezelman, President of Adults Surviving Child Abuse, who worked actively with the ECAJ during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse;

Caroline Haski, Registered Psychologist with extensive experience in working with survivors of trauma and their families;

Dr Paul Joshua, Conjoint lecturer in the School of Women’s and children’s Health at the University of NSW, who has worked as a Fellow in child protection;
Judith Levitan, solicitor, social worker and a founding member of the Jewish Alliance Against Family Violence;

Rebbetzin Deborah Blackman, social worker, founding member of the Jewish Alliance Against Family Violence and Founder of EduCARE, which is developing programs on child protection policies and procedures for schools, synagogues and other organisations across the Jewish and broader communities;

Rabbi Mendel Kastel, CEO of The Jewish House; and

Richard Spencer, Acting CEO of JewishCare, which has responsibility for providing community education, counselling and advice with respect to Child Safe policies and practices in the Jewish community.

In addition, Brian Babington, CEO of Families Australia and convener of the Coalition of Organisations Committed to the Safety and Wellbeing of Australia’s Children, has agreed to serve as an advisor to the Task Force.

Parliamentary Friends of Israel relaunched

Vic Alhadeff, Gabrielle Upton MP, Jeremy Spinak, Bruce Notley-Smith MP, RIchard Balkin
Vic Alhadeff, Gabrielle Upton MP, Jeremy Spinak, Bruce Notley-Smith MP, Richard Balkin.

The NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel was relaunched in Parliament House recently with Member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith MP elected the new chair. He succeeds Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton MP, who served as chair for the past four years.

Walt Secord MLC was re-elected deputy chair. With approximately 50 members from multiple parties, the group is the largest parliamentary friendship group in the NSW Parliament.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Jeremy Spinak and CEO Vic Alhadeff and Zionist Council of NSW president Richard Balkin attended the relaunch, which was necessitated by the fact that a general election has been held.

Addressing the group, Upton recounted the work of the Friendship Group over the past four years, including signing the London Declaration Against Antisemitism and hosting numerous overseas speakers.

Lunch with Dan Brotman, South Africa-Israel Forum Director

Dan Brotman, Executive Director of the South Africa Israel Forum, was our guest speaker at a luncheon club co-hosted by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Founded in 2008 by the late Mendel Kaplan, SAIF takes top non-Jewish young political leaders and young entrepreneurs to Israel (YoungTreps), in partnership with corporates such as Investec and Growthpoint Properties, and private philanthropists such as Eric Samson, Jonathan Beare and Morris Kahn.

This year alone they are taking 100 young South African entrepreneurs and a delegation of ANC Youth League leaders to Israel.

Dan was accompanied by Setlogane Manchidi, Head of Corporate Social Investments at Investec, and Phakiso Tsotetsi, one of the young entrepreneurs who has participated in the program.

1300 at Yom Hashoah

About 1300 people packed the Recital Hall at Angel Place to commemorate 70 years since the Holocaust and the Liberation from the Nazi camps.

A strong delegation of diplomats and politicians joined ethnic and faith leaders and members of the Jewish community at the moving ceremony. Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg MP, the keynote speaker. described his experience representing Australia at a ceremony at Auschwitz-Birkenau this year, where a number of his family members perished.

Hans Korten, the son of a Dutch couple who sheltered and saved the life of a young Jewish girl, was presented with a Righteous Among the Nations medal on behalf of his parents by Israeli Ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel on behalf of Yad Vashem.

Organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the ceremony also featured testimonies by survivors Flore Jaku, Ibi Wertheim and Eva Grinston.