The Mitzvah of Remembrance

Holocaust remembrance program
KTC students, and Dasia Black-Gutman (centre)

Now in its fifth year, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies’ Holocaust-awareness program “Mitzvah of Memory” has reached 500 day school students of bar/bat mitzvah age.. The brainchild of North Shore Temple Emanuel Rabbi Gary Robuck, the program aims to introduce the Holocaust in a sensitive and age-appropriate way. The format includes a DVD followed by a presentation by a child survivor. Dasia Black-Gutman (front, centre) is pictured with Kesser Torah College students.

Community leaders break bread at Masada

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and Kehillat Masada Synagogue co-hosted a unique Shabbat Dinner at Kehillat Masada, with 140 leaders attending from across the full spectrum of society, including federal and state Members of Parliament, mayors, education, faith and community leaders.
Guests were welcomed by synagogue president Howard Sher and taken on an informative tour by Rabbi Gad Krebs, after which they attended the Sabbath service and sat down to a Shabbat dinner.
Participants included Member for Bradfield Paul Fletcher MP, Member for Berowra Phillip Ruddock MP, Member for Ku-ring-gai Alister Henskens SC MP, Member for Davidson Jonathan O’Dea MP, Scott Farlow MLC, Ku-ring-gai Mayor Jennifer Anderson and Ku-ring-gai Councillor David Ossip.

They also included representatives of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Australia, Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay, Chinese Australian Forum, Chinese Australian Services Society, Frenchs Forest Catholic Parish, Holy Name Catholic Parish, IABBV Hindi School, the Liberal Party, Lindfield Community Bank, Macquarie University, Our Lady of Dolours Catholic Parish, Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral Parish, Peter Canisius House, St Ives Family Church, St Ives Lions Club, St Ives Rugby Club, St Ives Uniting Church and numerous officials from public and private schools.
Guests were welcomed at the dinner by Board of Deputies Community Relations Committee chair Julian Leeser, who urged all present to work together in the interests of an inclusive society. He said “This Shabbat dinner is an opportunity for the north shore Jewish community to invite the civil and political leadership of the local area to understand more about community. It is something that we probably have not done enough of in the past.”

Closing the evening, Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said: “We have the opportunity to work in tandem towards our shared goal of building a harmonious and inclusive society. This reflects the values of all the organisations represented at this event and mirrors the core Jewish belief that is captured in the Hebrew expression Tikkun Olam, which translates as `Healing The World’.”


Abraham Conference speaker
Rabbi Gad Krebs

Rabbi Gad Krebs (pictured) of Kehillat Masada Synagogue represented the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies at the Abraham Conference, which was themed “Respecting the Other’s Religious and Cultural Narrative”.This year’s conference attracted over 100 participants from all three Abrahamic faiths. The Board of Deputies has been a partner organisation in the Abraham Conference for almost 10 years.

Opinion makers at lunch

OPINION MAKERS AT LUNCH  The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Luncheon Club continues to see opinion-makers engage with the community around a boardroom table. Recent speakers included Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen MP, Israel’s foremost expert on counter-terrorism Professor Boaz Ganor, Member for Ku-ring-gai Alister Henskens SC MP and Deputy Premier, Minister for Justice and Police Troy Grant MP.

Young Liberal Shabbat

James Wallace, NSW Young Liberal President.
James Wallace, NSW Young Liberal President.

Jewish and Liberal Party values  were celebrated at a NSW Young Liberals Shabbat Dinner which the Board of Deputies hosted at the Great Synagogue. Seventy Young Liberal leaders attended the Friday night service, followed by a tour led by Great Synagogue President Justice Stephen Rothman AM.

At dinner, Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff delivered a brief address, drawing a connection between Jewish values, Liberal values and responsible political leadership.

The highlight of the evening was guest speaker Yaron Finkelstein, CEO of CrosbyITextor Australasia and Board of Deputies Vice-President, who provided meaningful insights into polling, campaigning and political messaging.

Journalists are often too focused on polls, crisis and process, he said, while voters would like to hear about issues that actually affect their lives. The electorate is far more likely to listen to politicians when they have something to say about the issues that matter to people, Finkelstein added. “Polling day is when it boils down to. A choice and a good campaign define and sharpen the choice offered to voters,” he stressed.

During his closing remarks, NSW Young Liberal President James Wallace reiterated Young Liberal support for the Jewish community and Israel and praised the Board of Deputies for bringing together so many Young Liberals for a collegial and enjoyable evening.

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.