About 350 students from 19 Sydney schools have participated in the Board of Deputies’ “Respect, Understanding, Acceptance” schools harmony program this year to date.
The schools included three which are new to the program – Rose Bay Secondary College, Ravenswood and Amity College. The sessions were held at the Sydney Jewish Museum.
The program includes presentations on the predominant cultural background of each school and a discussion on racism, with students sharing their personal experiences. The program aims to engender respect for diversity and the need to speak out against bigotry.
The Board of Deputies Luncheon Club sees opinion-makers engage with members of the community. Recent speakers include Premier Mike Baird MP (pictured right with Board of Deputies president Jeremy Spinak), author Melanie Phillips and former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy.
“Unleashing the start-up nation” was the topic of a scintillating address to the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum by Dan Bennett, managing director of OurCrowd – an Israeli venture-capital crowdfunding company.
OurCrowd has made a remarkable impact on the global business scene, attracting billions of dollars of investment to Israel to seed state-of-the-art projects which push the boundaries, particularly in the medical-technical area.
He enthralled the packed Education Centre at the Sydney Jewish Museum with a litany of examples, including software which enabled the US authorities to catch the Boston Bomber, and Re-walk – a revolutionary device which enables paraplegics to walk again.
With a background in private banking, investment and law, Bennett has a passion for all things entrepreneurial and an innate love of Israel. It was this combination that brought him back from his career in London.
Founded two years ago in Jerusalem by Jon Medved – one of The New York Times’ 10 most influential Americans to impact Israel – OurCrowd is breathing new life into the global venture capital space. With the help of Sydney businessmen Geoff Levy and David Shein, OurCrowd has extended its global reach to over 60 countries, recently opening its Australian office to serve as a launchpad into the Asia-Pacific region.
OurCrowd has introduced a new philosophy to connect global investors with Israeli start-ups. Their point of difference allows sophisticated investors to invest as little as $10,000 and choose the company to invest in. Approximately 75% of their investments emanate from Israel – the country with the highest number per capita of start-ups in the world.
The Israeli office has a staff of 50, who, together with the global team, identify promising start-ups, help manage the investment and provide ongoing mentorship. With a keen interest in cyber security, medical technology, agricultural technology and e-commence. OurCrowd has invested $100 million in 56 businesses. Rewalk has been cleared for personal use in the US and listed on the NASDAQ.
Investors have played their part in making ground breaking technologies possible, such as the world’s first commercialised hand-held molecular sensor, a fingerprint authentication for firearm safety, multiple cyber-attack prevention systems and patient-specific 3D imaging for surgical rehearsal.
The first OurCrowd global summit was held in Jerusalem late last year. It attracted over 1000 attendees including current investors, potential investors, innovators and key media.
Delivering a vote of thanks, Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff noted that the success of OurCrowd “is the best antidote to BDS, the best antidote to those who seek to delegitimise, and therefore destroy, Israel.”
The Board of Deputies’ 31st “Talking About Israel” course has just concluded, its 57 participants bringing the number of graduates to approximately 1000.
“I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your presentation. I came away with a far better understanding of the issues and how to counter them, which is terrific considering it’s only the first session! Looking forward to absorbing more information next week!” Charles N.
“Fiona and I thoroughly enjoyed Monday night and look forward to the upcoming sessions. Thank you also for the materials! Especially appreciate the short movie re historical rulers of the land, gives a fantastic visual overview.” Annita S.
“We both loved tonight and will be attending the course weekly. Thank you for including us. We both thoroughly enjoyed it.” Robyn P
Last August’s Randwick bus incident, which saw a busload of Jewish schoolchildren terrorised by a group of drunken teenagers, had an aftermath recently, when one of the offenders undertook a guided tour of the Sydney Jewish Museum.
The offender, who cannot be identified as he is a minor, was ordered to participate in a Youth Justice Conference under the Juvenile Justice system, along with various participants – a 12-year-old Jewish child who was a victim of the abuse and her parents; NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive officer Vic Alhadeff representing the other victims; a police youth liaison officer; a social worker; the offender’s parents; and a convener.
The Conference was held as a result of an incident on August 6, when inebriated youths boarded a bus carrying Mount Sinai College, Moriah College and Emanuel School pupils and intimidated them with threats of slitting their throats and chants of “Kill the Jews”, “Heil Hitler” and “Free Palestine”. They also pointedly sat among the pupils, some of whom were as young as five and many of whom were terrified and in tears, frantically calling their parents.
Held under the NSW Young Offenders Act 1997, the Youth Justice Conference was designed to enable the offender understand the consequences of his actions; give the victims an opportunity to question him on his motive and state of mind; have interested parties voice their opinions; and invite the victims to suggest outcomes which would provide a sense of restorative justice.
The Conference opened with the offender articulating what had occurred, including his own role, followed by questions put to him by the child and her parents. Alhadeff then elaborated on the impact of the offender’s actions, both on the children who were on the bus and on the Jewish community. “When people say ‘Heil Hitler’, we take it seriously,” he said.
All present were then invited to voice their thoughts and to question the offender. After an hour-long discussion, Alhadeff was asked to suggest a course of action, which he did in consultation with the victim’s family.
The suggested outcomes – which were formally accepted and therefore legally binding – comprised the guided two-hour of the Sydney Jewish Museum and participation in the Board of Deputies’ “Respect, Understanding, Acceptance” school harmony program.
Jewish and Christian communities came together under the banner “Season of Peace” representing the strengthening partnership between the Jewish, Assyrian and Hellenic communities, and the NSW Ecumenical Council. The event had a spiritual and educational focus.
The celebration took place at the Sydney Jewish Museum, with guests of honour including Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services Rev Fred Nile MLC, Assistant President of the Legislative Council David Clarke MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Justice Councillor Petros Kalligas, Rockdale City Council.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies President Jeremy Spinak welcomed guests, followed by Reverend John Barr, President of the NSW Ecumenical Council, Rabbi Gad Krebs, Ninos Aaron, Chair of The Young Assyrians of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, Panayiotis Diamadis, Secretary, Order of AHEPA NSW-NZ, and Peter Wertheim AM, Executive Director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. Prayers of peace were conducted by Father Shenouda Mansour, General Secretary of the NSW Ecumenical Council, and Rabbi Zalman Kastel of Together for Humanity.