Now is the time for stability and unity

Lesli Berger elected President of NSW Jewish Board of Deputies
2018 Annual General Meeting
August 21, Sydney Jewish Museum Education Centre


Deputies I have been Chair of the Public Affairs Committee for the last 3 years and Vice President the last two years, since that time under Jeremy Spinak’s extraordinary leadership we have persuaded the NSW Government to introduce effective criminal racial vilification laws, a law our community has wanted to reform for over 15 years.

Deputies, we have also significantly improved our position with the NSW Labor party. It is no longer the case that Bob Carr and Shaoquett Moselmanne can simply have their way with the NSW Labor conference and push their anti-Israel motions.

I stand before you because I have always been a passionate Jew and a Jew who is very passionate about his community. I don’t pretend to be religious, but I am ethical in my conduct and have a very strong moral centre.

I have strong political, media and business experience. I promise you to be a strong but fair President.

I promise you we will renew our focus on engagement with our Deputies and members of our community and to that end we will always have a microphone available at our Plenums and we will constitute a Working Party to focus on improving our engagement.

My passion for the Jewish Community and my love for the State of Israel came about as a direct result of my family and in particular my late grandfather Michael Berger who was a Holocaust survivor and an ardent Zionist. He loved Israel despite its flaws as every good democracy is flawed and I share that passion as I know you do.

One of the lessons I learned from Michael is that forgiveness is critical. He never hated the Germans for what they did to him and his family, a life lesson I have learned because I choose not to hate anyone, even when I have felt wronged.

Deputies, as a community we face enormous political and security challenges.

We face constant security threats that our community must be appropriately protected against.

According to Ambassador Dore Gold, world Jewry faces the ugly headwinds of the rise of anti-semitism. What is happening in Europe and the British Labor Party all too easily could happen here and we must remain vigilant.

Just last week, we had a Muslim member of Parliament deny entry to our CEO Vic Alhadeff to a multi-cultural event and so far that member has received no sanction from his party.

We also heard Senator Anning’s vile speech where he referred to the “final solution” in relation to Muslim immigration, reminding our community of the horrors of the holocaust, a fate we would not wish on anyone. To their great credit, both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition condemned these vile comments.

The challenge for us as a community is how can we best address the ongoing political and security challenges we face in the context of the rise of extremism whether it be from the far left or the far right.

 Our purpose is to stop ANTI-SEMITISM, strengthen our SECURITY and strengthen our ties with ISRAEL.

 The first question: What are the main political challenges we face?

  1.  The need to maintain bi-partisan support for the State of Israel. Too often criticism of Israel is used as a pretext to delegitimise the world’s only Jewish state.
  2. The constant need to monitor politicians, community leaders and educators to ensure they do not inappropriately reference the Holocaust or even worse make anti-Semitic statements;
  3. The need to manage our relationship with the NSW Greens and ensure that their extreme elements are marginalised.
  4. The need to ensure that the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Policy receives no public support and that we shame all those who support this policy;
  5. The need to ensure our community has adequate burial space;
  6. The need to ensure our community receives appropriate security funding particularly for the CSG (The community security group). The NSW Government has not yet committed the funds our community so desperately needs.

Everyone in our community must play their part.
The second question: What can you do to help?

  1. Donate to the JCA, every donation counts;
  2. Encourage every member of our community to become an active member of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, unity and stability are key;
  3. Follow the JBD’s Facebook page, like our posts and share them with your friends;
  4. Tell people you are Jewish – to know a Jewish person is to like a Jewish person
  5. If you are politically minded, join your political party of choice;

The third question, what can I as President do to help strengthen our community? We will focus on 3 key areas:

 1. Campaigning:

 (i) We will continue to professionalise the operations of the Board and use the resources of our community efficiently and judiciously;

(ii) We will improve our use of data and become the professional campaign headquarters of our community which has a grass roots focus;

(iii) We will strengthen our social media capacity;

(iv) For those who wish to delegitimize Israel, we will normalise Israel;

(v) For those who hate our community, we will humanise our community

2. Coalition Building:

 (i) We will continue to build coalitions with other like-minded communities and groups;

3. Our community:

 (i) We will strengthen our engagement with members of our community, Deputies and our Constituent organisations; and critically

(ii) We will mentor and develop the next generation of leaders of our community.

Deputies, I know you share my sentiments in wishing Jeremy Spinak and his family good health and happiness and every success in his treatment.

All of this work has begun under the capable leadership of Jeremy Spinak and Deputies, with your help, I promise to continue Jeremy’s extraordinary legacy and I am honoured and privileged to serve our community to the best of my ability.

AGM 2018 – New Executive

Dear communal member,

The 73rd Annual General Meeting of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies took place on Tuesday, 21 August 2018.

At the AGM, the following Executive was elected:

Honorary Officers
President – Lesli Berger
Immediate Past President – Jeremy Spinak
Vice Presidents – Yaron Finkelstein, Isabelle Shapiro OAM
Hon. Secretary – Melissa McCurdie
Hon. Treasurer – Sam Zweig

Executive Members
Dane Stern
Michelle Filler
Natalie Rubinstein
Glen Falkenstein
Yosi Tal

War Memorial Representative
Dr George Foster

Committee Chairs
Shoah Remembrance – Daniel Hochberg
Education – Sandy Hollis
Public Affairs – David Ossip
Community Relations – Gael Kennedy
Social Justice – Liam O’Callaghan

Please note the changes and alter your records accordingly.
If we can be of assistance in any way please contact our CEO, Vic Alhadeff or telephone 9360 1600.

Yours sincerely

Melissa McCurdie
Honorary Secretary



NSW Muslim MP Shaoquett Moselmane blocks Vic Alhadeff from Labor event

The Australian
August 14, 2018

By Andrew Clennell, National Political Editor

The first Muslim MP in the NSW parliament has sparked a row overnight, refusing entry to a respected Jewish leader to a Labor party multicultural launch.

Upper House MP Shaoquett Moselmane refused entry to Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff at the launch of the Labor Union Multicultural Action Committee launch last night saying, according to Mr Alhadeff, that he was not a Labor party member before offering him a baklava on the way out.

The baklava was declined.

Mr Alhadeff had had an invitation to the Sussex Street event by Labor General secretary Kaila Murnain and Unions NSW chief Mark Morey.

But his invitation only came after Mr Alhadeff had questioned why Mr Moselmane had not invited him in the first place.

“While I appreciated the goodwill in receiving an invitation from Kaila Murnain and Mark Morey, it is unfortunate that Mr Moselmane would defy his party leadership and deny entry to a leader of the Jewish community,” Mr Alhadeff said.

“Given that the invitation which Mr Moselmane sent to others specifically said he hoped this new organisation would become a conduit between the multicultural community and Labor and the union movement, it made no sense to exclude the CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies when we represent the Jewish community and are an active component of multicultural NSW.”

Labor deputy upper house leader Walt Secord condemned Mr Moselmane.

“Vic Alhadeff had an official personal invitation from the NSW Labor General Secretary and was welcome to attend,’’ Mr Secord said.

“It was stupid, malicious and vindictive to refuse him entry into a multicultural event.

“The actions do not reflect the views of NSW Labor.”

Mr Moselmane confirmed he had told Mr Alhadeff that only Labor party members were present and said after that Mr Alhadeff had left.

“He came into last night’s event, it was not a function .. it was a meeting of the Labor party action committee.

“He was offered some refreshments and he left.

“He came in with the impression it was a multicultural … committee meeting.”

Mr Moselmane sparked outrage in 2013 when he gave a speech in parliament comparing resistance to the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon with that against Nazi Germany.

Women of Diversity Dinner 2018

Approximately 300 women of many ages from over 20 cultural backgrounds came together for a night of singing, dancing, eating and laughing at the 2018 Women of Diversity Dinner (WDD) held at the Emporium Function Centre.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Community Relations & Policy Manager Lynda Ben-Menashe said, “the WDD is the city’s premier multicultural event for women, giving them the opportunity to celebrate their own cultures, embrace others’ and just have fun. Our message is simple – whether you were born in Australia, or arrived recently, we all want this home of ours to be a harmonious and peaceful place for our families. The WDD is an avenue to express this sentiment.”

Lynda Ben-Menashe, Miri Orden, Bernice Bachmayer, Shanti Raman

The WDD organising committee was thrilled to have the host of SBS Living Black, Karla Grant, emcee the event – which was held during national NAIDOC month. Guests were treated to songs in French, Arabic, Hebrew and Hindi by multilingual performer Dahlia Dior and had fun learning Bollywood dance moves from classically-trained Indian dancers, sisters Varsha and Megha Krishnappa.  Another highlight of the evening was the traditional dress Afghan fashion parade.

Karla Grant

“The annual Women of Diversity Dinner was a joyful event that brought together women of many different backgrounds. Everyone involved had a fun time, the hall was filled with laughter, singing and dancing with the singer Dahlia Dior’s Hindi number welcoming new Indian arrivals setting the scene for an inspirational and colourful fashion parade by women from the Afghani community followed by traditional South Indian dancing. To our surprise, we even had a swift Bollywood dance lesson, which was the icing on the cake, making most of us jingle and mingle even further”, said Zubeda Raihman, President, Muslim Women’s National Network of Australia, Inc.

The WDD is organised by a partnership of organisations including the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW, Afghan Women on the Move, Australian South Sea Islanders (ASSI) – Port Jackson, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Muslim Women’s National Network, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, SAHELI, Settlement Services International, Uniting Church, and individual women.


Australian Jews savage Zuckerberg’s ‘assault on truth’

The Australian
July 20, 2018

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Picture: AFP

Australian Jewish leaders have lambasted Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg for allowing Holocaust denial to be a protected form of speech on Facebook.

Zuckerberg defended the rights of Facebook users to publish Holocaust denial posts, saying he didn’t “think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong”.

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich denounced Mr Zuckerberg’s remarks — made to website Recode — as “profoundly disappointing and troubling”. “The agents of this vicious and ­deliberate assault on the truth should not be provided with a welcome mat and platform on the world’s most popular social networking website to preach hate, to gain legitimacy for their sickening lies and to attract new members to their cause,” Dr Abramovich said.

“By allowing these despicable pages to stay, Facebook is contributing to the social accept­ability of racism and is enabling the flourishing of a long, and bone-chilling campaign of dehumanisation and incitement that has led to the extermination of millions.

“I have no doubt that Holocaust deniers are smiling, empowered by the knowledge that they can continue to exploit this new technology to demonise Jews, to label survivors as hoaxers, and to keep inflicting grief and suffering on the victims. The Nazis would have found much to like in the way Facebook has allowed hatred to invade its reputable space.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said: “The Holocaust was the most thoroughly documented genocide in history, documented by the perpetrators themselves. There have been thousands of trials in which the magnitude of Nazis war crimes was placed on the public record. For anyone to suggest Holocaust denial is not pernicious or malicious is simply mind-boggling. Facebook has a responsibility to uphold community standards, which means not giving a platform to those who spread lies and bigotry.”

Sydney Jewish Museum chief executive Norman Seligman said: “Holocaust denial is not another version of fake news: it’s hate speech and anti-Semitism.”

Facebook is struggling to clamp down on misinformation and fake news after Russian-backed groups spread propaganda on the platform.


NSW Premier to address Board of Deputies AGM – August 21

The Premier has a longstanding, supportive relationship with the Jewish community since being elected to the seat of Willoughby in 2003. Before being voted in as Premier after Mike Baird retired in January 2017, she held senior parliamentary positions including Treasurer, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Transport.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian raising a toast at Israel Independence Day celebrations 2018.

“Our work in the political sector has been highlighted in recent months by the passage of legislation outlawing incitement to violence – a cause on which we had been working for over a decade,” said Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said. “It is fitting that the Premier will address the AGM as it highlights our strong co-operation with the State Government and the work which we do to benefit the community and all of NSW.”

The AGM will be an opportunity for the community to focus on work which the Board has done in a range of sectors, including media, intercultural, education and NGO.

It will also mark the culmination of Jeremy Spinak’s four-year presidency; if executive positions are contested, elections for the new leadership team will be held.

The AGM will take place at 7:30pm on August 21 at the Sydney Jewish Museum Education Centre in Darlinghurst.


Former PM John Howard addresses Shabbat Dinner

FORMER prime minister John Howard was keynote speaker at a unique Liberal Party Shabbat dinner hosted by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies last Friday night.

A key plank of the JBD’s outreach work, the organisation regularly invites key sectors of civil society to attend a Shabbat service, followed by dinner in an adjoining hall.

Attended by 120 people, the Liberal Party event was held at Kehillat Masada Synagogue in St Ives, with Rabbi Gad Krebs officiating at the Shabbat service.

The guests comprised a sizeable contingent of federal, state and local government politicians, including Jason Falinski MP, Paul Fletcher MP, Julian Leeser MP, Alister Henskens SC MP, Jonathan O’Dea MP, Scott Farlow MLC and Natalie Ward MLC, as well as Hornsby Mayor and NSW Liberal Party president Phillip Ruddock, Kuringai Mayor Jennifer Anderson, a dozen councillors from Bayside, Ryde, Northern Beachesl, Sutherland Shire, The Hills Shire, Waverley and Woollahra, and NSW Liberal Friends of Israel president Yosi Tal.

Reflecting on his unswerving support of the Australian Jewish community and Israel, Howard recalled his multiple visits to Israel as Opposition Leader and then as Prime Minister, praising it as the only democracy in the Middle East. Covering a wide range of issues with his customary forensic approach, he interspersed anecdotes of his encounters with Jewish humour – such as having been dubbed a “goyishe kop” after making a mistake as a young solicitor by his boss, Myer Rosenblum – with his avowed admiration for the contribution of Jews to Australian civil society across a range of fields. He challenged guests to strive for freedom and liberty, particularly freedom of religion.

Presiding over the dinner, Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said that “in the final four years of the government led by John Howard, Australia became one of a handful of nations willing to put principle ahead of politics and stand up for Israel in the sea of jaundice and anti-Israel hostility casually referred to at the United Nations. There have been over 400 anti-Israel resolutions in the UN General Assembly since Israel was established,” he said, “more than against all the other members of the UN combined. Between 2003 and 2007 – the final Howard years – there were 36 resolutions condemning Israel at the General Assembly. In resolution after resolution, while about 164 nations typically voted to condemn Israel, just five courageously stood with it – typically, the US, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and Australia.

“Four years ago, John Howard was awarded the George S Wise Medal – Tel Aviv University’s highest honour – in recognition of his unwavering advocacy of Israel, his abiding friendship with the Australian Jewish community and his condemnation of international terrorism”.

The mantle that the Howard government adopted in the international arena has been picked up by Malcolm Turnbull’s government, Alhadeff said, citing two examples. “Last month the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning Israel in regard to the recent crisis at the Gaza border. In the 815-word resolution, the word Hamas did not appear once. Twenty-nine nations voted in favour, 14 abstained, just two voted against – the US and Australia. This was followed days later by a similar resolution at the General Assembly, where again Australia was one of a handful of nations to oppose it. Once again, putting principle ahead of politics.”

Alhadeff cited as a local example of the friendship of the Liberal Party “the momentous event which occurred on Macquarie Street three weeks ago when the Crimes Amendment (Publicly Threatening and Inciting Violence) Bill 2018 became law. For 15 years the Board of Deputies has been lobbying state governments of various hues to plug a gap in the law – a gap which meant that one could, with immunity, publicly incite violence or even death to fellow Australians. It was this state government, led by Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Attorney-General Mark Speakman, which listened to the people and made it happen, and the bill proscribing incitement to violence against others based on a range of categories including race, religion and sexual orientation passed unanimously through both Houses of Parliament.

“It was a great day for the people of NSW, a great day for this country, and we look forward to every government in this country emulating the fine example and benchmark set by this NSW government. That it was on this party’s watch that the law changed is a credit to the NSW Liberal Party and the governing coalition, and current and future generations will be indebted to you for that.”

Alhadeff also commended a motion which was passed days later by the NSW Young Liberals to congratulate the government on the legislation.

Jewish House signs National Redress Scheme

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies congratulates Jewish House on becoming the first Jewish organisation to join the National Redress Scheme, which is designed to acknowledge and support people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse and to provide them with access to counselling, payment and an apology. JewishCare Victoria is also in the process of joining the scheme, and we encourage other Jewish organisations to follow suit.

Two years ago, Board of Deputies Social Justice Committee chair Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass established a task force to co-ordinate the community’s response to this issue.  Jewish House CEO Rabbi Mendel Kastel is a member of the Task Force. Professor Cass is also chairing an ECAJ national working group, which is co-ordinating information and advice for Jewish institutions across Australia about polices and procedure for child protection and understanding the process of opting in to the National Redress Scheme.

The National Redress Scheme began on July 1, 2018. For more information visit or call the National Redress Scheme on 1800 737 377.