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The Jews Down Under…Roundup of Australian Jewish News

May 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Senior global role for NCJWA president
MELBOURNE,  8 May – Former National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (NCJWA) president Robyn Lenn is set to take up a top-level position with
the organisation’s global roof body next month.

At the quadrennial International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW) convention, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa from May 6-12, Lenn, NCJWA’s immediate past president, will be appointed vice-president representing Australia.

The Sydney-based piano studies examiner and mother of four, who has been with the NCJWA for
37 years, will wind up a four-year term as the ICJW’s community services coordinator, working
with various regional constituent bodies on community projects.

A devotee of NCJWA’s “humanitarian approach”, Lenn said the organisation’s support activities
for Russian Jewish immigrants in Melbourne, its “Mum For Mum” motherhood mentoring project in
Sydney, and its one-on-one work with breast cancer patients, in addition to its work for Israel, are some of the reasons she continues her close involvement.

Eva Robey from NCJWA in NSW will take on the mantle of chairing the ICJW’s Asia-Pacific region.

A total of 13 NCJWA delegates will join representatives from 50 countries at the conference, to be themed “B’Yachad, Ubuntu, Together”, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ICJW.

The conference will see ICJW president Leah Aharonov stepping down, and Sharon Gustafson inducted as the new president.

NCJWA national president Rysia Rozen will deliver a report on the Australian organisation’s activities over the past four years, including the visit of Israeli lawyer and women’s rights activist Sharon Shenhav last month.

The ICJW has NGO observer status at the United Nations, promoting women’s and children’s rights worldwide.

Politics – the Jewish connection

SYDNEY, 7 May – The battle for Sydney’s most Jewish seat, Wentworth, is for now all on the
Labor side, as this week Malcolm Turnbull backed down on his decision to resign and NSW Jewish
Board of Deputies president Robin Margo emerged as a potential ALP candidate.

Turnbull said that after receiving messages of support and pleas to remain from both his constituents and the party, he reversed his decision to step away from politics.

“There was a very large body of opinion encouraging me to reconsider my decision, so I did reconsider it and I came to the realisation that my passion for public service and my commitment to making a contribution to the many issues that affect our nation today, and in the years ahead, is as strong as ever, and the best place to participate in that debate is as a member of parliament,” he said on Monday.

But while Turnbull was declaring his return to politics just weeks after announcing he would
leave, a stoush was emerging on the Labor side between two senior Jewish figures.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) president Robin Margo was approached by the ALP to consider
standing for preselection in the Eastern Suburbs seat, but he stated that he had not made up his mind.

“I said last week that I was talking to people and considering whether or not to nominate when
nominations are opened,” Margo said.

“Nominations are not yet open, and I am still talking to people. Whatever my decision, the
board [of Deputies] has always been, and will remain, entirely non-partisan.”

However, declared Wentworth ALP hopeful Steven Lewis – himself a long-time member of the JBD –
said Margo should show his hand for the sake of the Jewish community.

“It is not a difficult decision to make,” Lewis said. “You are either running or not, it is about time he declared his intentions to the Jewish community.”

He added: “I think it would be very unfortunate if two seniors members of the Sydney Jewish
community are in conflict over preselection.”

While Margo only signed on as an ALP member a few weeks ago, It is generally understood that he has
been courting members of the ALP Left in Wentworth.

He has circulated a leaflet to members detailing his “progressive activities”, including his participation in the Save the Franklin Dam campaign, his contribution to the Free Mandela movement, and his pro-bono work on civil proceedings against Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben.

He has also used the JBD as an example of his progressive credentials.

“I have changed culture of the NSW JBD during my presidency; bringing in more Jewish members of
the Left and more young people; creating space for freer expression of all view on Israel and Palestine,” the leaflet reads.

The NSW ALP is scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss preselection, and an ALP insider said the
only two names in contention as of this week are those of Margo and Lewis.

Melbourne has strong showing for Lag b’Omer

MELBOURNE 6 May -A huge Lag b’Omer parade brightened up what was otherwise a grey Melbourne day last Sunday.

Hundreds of children and adults took part in the parade on motorbikes, on trucks, in open-topped
cars and on foot. There were clowns, elephants, rabbis and politicians all taking part in
celebrations for the 33rd day of the Omer – the weeks between Pesach and Shavuot.

The parade, organised by Chabad Youth, culminated in a family fun day at Princes Park in Caulfield South.

Klinger named Red Back’s captain

ADELAIDE, 6 May  – Prolific South Australian Jewish batsman Michael Klinger has been named
captain of the Redbacks, after just two seasons at the club.

He replaces wicketkeeper Graham Manou, and will have Australian one-day batsman Callum Ferguson as his deputy.

“It’s an honour to be endorsed by the hierarchy at the SACA [South Australian Cricket Association],” Klinger said

“Jamie Cox, the high performance director, as well as the board have to approve this decision,
so for them to believe that I can do the job is an honour and pretty exciting as well.”

Despite a largely disappointing season in 2009/10 for the Redbacks, Klinger believes it is an
exciting time to take the reins. The 29-year-old said he is keen to foster the talent of the
Redbacks’ younger players, but believes a more disciplined approach is called for.

“Last season, with two games to go in the one-day format and four-day format, we were still in the
hunt to make the finals and we just fell away. It’s about putting procedures in place to bring
the talent out, while making sure we stay disciplined through the whole season.”

Klinger was first earmarked as a potential future leader in 1999 when he captained the Australian
under-19 side. He said he would also draw on his experiences under other mentors.

“I’ll take different bits and pieces from different captains and coaches I’ve had along the way. Darren Berry [former Bushrangers captain] was a very fitness-oriented captain, and the innovative approach of someone like a Shane Warne, who I probably played around 10 games under. They’re both guys I will hopefully speak to over the next couple of months to get some ideas off them.”

Since crossing from Victoria in 2008/09, Klinger has twice won the State Player of the Year award
and been arguably the most dominant batsman in the limited overs and four-day domestic competitions.

Many believe the cricketer is close to a call-up for national duties, and he’ll have another chance to prove himself to the Australian selectors when he joins the Australia A team to face Sri Lanka in June.

But if Klinger is to get his chance, he will need to pile on the runs again in this year’s
Sheffield Shield and Ford Ranger Cup competitions – a feat he believes the Redbacks’ captaincy will help, not hinder.

“When I go out and bat I’m pretty focused and I think [the captaincy] will only focus me more.
I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t added pressure, but I think I’ll enjoy that. My goal of
playing for Australia hasn’t changed. Now it’s just an added challenge for me to get together a
really strong, cohesive group that will go on to win tournaments.”
Cheers to Israel

MELBOURNE, 6 May – VIictorian Premier John Brumby toasted Israel on the occasion of its 62nd year
of independence at a gala reception in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

Brumby was joined at the cocktail function by Victorian Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu and Ambassador to Israel Yuval Rotem.

The event, which was attended by community leaders and volunteers, was hosted by the Zionist Council of Victoria.

JCCV calls for respect of differences

MELBOURNE, 6 May 2010 — At the Jewish Community Council of Victoria plenum held on 3 May 2010, delegates overwhelmingly voted for the following amendment to the JCCV’s policy platform:

3.7          Respect

This Council:

3.7.1  ACKNOWLEDGES the distinctive character of the Victorian Jewish community as part of the
Jewish people worldwide, with a shared history, culture and religious tradition.

3.7.2   RECOGNISES that irrespective of the common traits that bind us as a community,
Victorian Jewry is also diverse and pluralistic and that this is reflected in different, often
strongly held views, on a range of issues affecting the Jewish and larger communities.

3.7.3      CALLS FOR respect for any such differences, while affirming that disagreement is
only permissible in ways that do not vilify other persons or their views.

3.7.4    CALLS FOR abstention from any public or private conduct that incites hatred against,
serious contempt for, revulsion, vilification or severe ridicule of, another person or group on
the ground of their identity (including race, religion, colour, disability, sexual orientation,
gender and national origin) or views of that other person or group.

JCCV President John Searle noted that the JCCV’s policy platform was a living document, continually updated to reflect the views of its affiliates.  He observed that under his presidency the JCCV had demonstrated an ongoing and increasing opposition to vilification in all its manifestations.

He stated that “it is important to realise that this particular policy is not intended to
prohibit robust debate or to demand acceptance of all opinions or lifestyles.  What it does do,
however, is set parameters for the conduct of discussion of such matters, asking for respect
for difference.  Quite simply it’s about playing the ball, not the person.”

Searle concluded, “While our policies are not binding, they are nonetheless a strong statement
of principle and provide guidance to and educate those persons considering a range of issues that affect our community.”


Charity begins at home in Perth

PERTH, 7 May – Perth’s Jewish organisations are apparently so short of funds that a leading member of the community has called on donors to give their tzedakah to local causes, rather than sending it all to Israel.

Roger Davis, vice-president of the city’s only Jewish aged-care facility, the Maurice Zeffert Home (MZH), said “This is a very touchy subject. It is something few people are happy to talk about, but when you are talking to people one-to-one, everyone shares this view.”

In Perth, he said Israel receives roughly three-to-four times more in donations than the local Jewish community. In the ultimate case of roll reversals, Davis said the community might need to turn to Israel to raise funds.

MZH board members have already started talking to donors in the eastern states, and Israel is their
next stop, if it comes to that. “I was recently there. Israel is wonderful, they have a booming
economy” Davis said. “They’ve obviously got a lot of issues,, but they do a really good job of
charity and looking after old people”. If you speak to most Israelis, they say ‘we don’t need
as much as we once did’ and they know it is important to have a strong Diaspora.”

MZH held an appeal function last month, where Davis made a pitch to guests to get behind a new
project. That project will capitalise on the only profitable arm of MZH, its independent living
unit.  He went on to explain that they would like to redevelop its 30 year old Sir Zelman and Lady
Cowen Retirement Village into luxurious, multi-story units for elderly members as part of kits 10-year plan.

“It has to happen”, he said, adding that $3 million plus is the initial fund raising target.
“If we can’t do that, we can’t develop more nursing bed homes”.

Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

The Jews Down Under~Roundup of Australian Jewish News

December 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Educators Israel-bound for Holocaust studies

MELBOURNE – School and university teachers from across Australia are setting off
for Israel to take part in an intensive course designed to broaden their knowledge of the Shoah.

The members of the 20-strong delegation are participants in the inaugural Gandel Holocaust
Studies Program for Australian Educators.

Conducted by the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem, the
initiative is a long-term course to educate and mentor the group, beginning with an intensive training seminar in Israel, followed by a year-long program back home.

“This is an extremely important initiative and we are delighted to be involved,” John Gandel said upon announcing the successful scholarship recipients.

“The participants will come home to intensify and broaden their study of the Holocaust in their work and to raise awareness of the Holocaust within their communities. We believe their visit to Israel and attendance at the Yad Vashem course will be a highlight of their professional careers and their life in general.”

The Gandel Charitable Trust has provided scholarships for 10 educators, with Yad Vashem sponsoring a further 10 people.

The director of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, Dorit Novak,
said that the group of Australians would become a part of a “cadre” of educators from around the world with “the knowledge and tools for meaningful Holocaust education”.

They would also become a part of a worldwide network able to share and exchange information about Holocaust education initiatives.

“The Holocaust is a part of the shared identity of our civilisation -­ certainly part of our
shared identity as Jews, but also part of the shared identity of our modern civilisation,” she said.

“Educators are in the unique position to be a part of building and strengthening the shared
values that underpin our civilisation and that were undermined during the Holocaust, and can infuse it with meaning when transmitting it to their students.”

According to Novak, the Gandel Holocaust Studies Program will also enable a meaningful, long-term relationship between Australia and Yad Vashem.

“Yad Vashem has worked with Australian educators in the past, but the new Gandel program will transform periodic seminars into a comprehensive, sustainable program.

With Australia expected to mandate Holocaust education in the schools beginning in 2011, this project is perfectly timed to prepare educators to meet the challenges of meaningful, multidisciplinary Holocaust education in the new century.”

Student web site bans anti-Israel group

SYDNEY – A popular student website has banned an anti-Israel group from using its
site after a spate of anti-Semitic postings were uncovered last week.

The comments were published under a group  registered as “BoS anti-Israel League” on the
Sydney-based site,, which in recent years has become a well-known resource hub for students sitting their HSC exams.

Among the threads was a post about finding synagogues in Sydney and featured information on how to make a Molotov cocktail. Another thread, titled “F­- Israel”, included a posting from a blogger, which read: “Kill all da f­-ing Jews . f­-ing hate every single one of them . I hope Iran nukes them big time.”

Deenu Rajaratnam, a spokesperson for the site,  this week said he was alerted to the offensive material on December 16 and immediately moved to delete it and ban the group from its site. He has also spoken with moderators and taken steps to tighten their surveillance.

“Obviously, we don’t endorse anything of that nature,” he said. “It’s not something we think is acceptable.”

“It was a good wake-up call,” he added. “It’s the first time that it has happened. We’ve decided to be a lot more serious about action and pay more attention to it.”

Further investigation however, uncovered additional anti-Semitic comments and postings that had not yet been removed.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff, who originally brought the material to the
publisher’s attention, applauded their quick action, but said “it is clear that vigilance is needed”.

“It was unfortunate that a respected forum, which is designed to assist students with their
studies, could be hacked into by people with a racist agenda,” he said.

He also called on other internet publishers to be more vigilant. “All publishers should exercise care to prevent such damaging material appearing on their sites and to remove it immediately if it appears.”

Liberal leader calls on action against racist web sites

SYDNEY – New South Wales Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell has called for a review of
laws in all states to combat racial vilification on social networking and blog websites.

“We must ensure that the laws are up to date,” he told Jewish leaders gathered at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s annual meeting last week.

“Unless we’re conscious of the threat and adapt those laws to meet the varied ways in which
vilification can be pursued in this age, we will fail those who rely on us.”

O’Farrell’s comments came immediately after a report, released at the same conference,
indicated anti-Jewish propaganda in fringe publications and from extremist organisations remains an “ongoing concern”.

Earlier this year, O’Farrell called on Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard to take a stance
against anti-Israel messages posted on the taxpayer-funded blog Khaldoun, which is run by
academic staff at Sydney’s Macquarie University.

So far, however, no action has been taken, and the site continues to operate without any review.

O’Farrell said it was an ongoing dispute and content on such sites was “just as evil today .
as it was in 1938 in those dark days in Europe”.

O’Farrell appeared at the conference as a last-minute replacement for former federal
Liberal head Malcolm Turnbull, who was forced to remain in Canberra longer than expected.

The embattled leader was ultimately ousted by Tony Abbott in a party room ballot.

O’Farrell reassured the audience that Australian Jewry and its interests wouldn’t suffer under a new leader.

“The Jewish community doesn’t lose because [the leaders of the] Liberal Party are strong friends of Israel and supporters of the Jewish community,” he said.

In that same spirit, he reaffirmed his own support for the State of Israel.

“Until we see those who oppose the legitimacy of the State of Israel and understand the only
solution is a two-state solution, there is frankly no great optimism that can be held as to
what’s happening in the Middle East,” he added.

Reviewing a Yiddish Holocaust story

MELBOURNE – Documentary  The Sleeping Book, about the translation of a book first
published by a Holocaust survivor in 1948, was shown on ABC-TV’s Compass on Sunday.

It tells of Melbourne ophthalmologist Henry Lew’s mission to revive a story written by Rafael Rajzner that meticulously described Bialystok, its 60,000 Jewish residents and their destruction by the Nazis.

The Sleeping Book follows Lew’s quest to have Rajzner’s work translated from its original
Yiddish into English -­ with the title The Stories our Parents Found too Painful to Tell -­ in no conventional manner.

Lew appealed to the international Yiddish speaking community, sending 10 pages to people in countries all over the world.

What resulted was the translation of a true story that began in Poland almost 70 years ago, quietly landed in Melbourne for 60 years before taking off around the world from New York to Canada.

Young Soccer star aims high

CANBERRA – Six months ago, Steve Solomon was the lightning-quick skipper of
Australia’s junior Maccabiah football side, who did a bit of sprinting on the side at school.

Now, after blitzing all before him in the state and national school athletic championships, the 16-year-old has been scouted by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

He will train in Canberra during his school break, before spending the year in Athletics
Australia’s under-19 talent squad in Sydney.

Having been hand-picked by the sport’s roof body, Solomon now has his eyes firmly on the track, and aims “to represent my country, hopefully at the Rio Olympics”.

The meteoric shift from soccer enthusiast to Olympic sprint aspirant comes on the back of a phenomenal athletics season.

Representing the Cranbrook School, Solomon won the long jump and broke the Combined Associated Schools’ (CAS) longstanding 200-metre record, while also setting a new best in the 400-metre event.

He began turning heads when he went to the NSW State Championships and broke the 400-metre hurdles record in his first attempt at the race, while also winning the 400-metre flat race.

He collected another booty of gold representing NSW at the Australian All Schools in Hobart, winning his pet 400-metre event in the under-17 division, while also collecting a win in the 4×400-metre relay. In just his third hurdles race, he was pipped on the line to claim silver.

Solomon will now enjoy the benefit of the AIS’ resources -­ an exciting proposition given that
he has hardly trained beyond his school’s seasonal athletics program and runs a personal
best of 48.32 over 400 metres, and 53.70 in the 400-metre hurdles event.

“I’m completely open-minded to it and willing to give everything a go to see how far I can take it,” Solomon enthused.

“I’ve always been running, but this year everything has fallen into place. I was quietly
confident, only because I knew I’d beaten the other competitors before, but was very surprised at the same time ­- particularly with the hurdles. It was only my third hurdles race.”

So near and yet so far

MELBOURNE– The Maccabi AJAX First XI fell agonisingly short of victory with Cheltenham
clinching the win with just two wickets in hand.

A brilliant bowling performance from skipper Dave Gelbart, who snared 4-37 from his 24 overs -­ including a staggering 12 maidens -­ wasn’t enough to get the Firsts across the line in the last game before the break on December 19.

All-rounder David Fayman (2-20) was the only other multiple wicket-taker.

In a thrilling finish to the hard-fought contest in Melbourne, the Firsts needed three wickets, while Cheltenham needed 15 runs.

Gelbart got the breakthrough for his side, but it was the visitors that prevailed with a stubborn ninth-wicket stand that went on to post 42 runs.

Cheltenham resumed on 3-23, needing 135 for victory. A wicket to Gelbart and a freakish catch to David Majtlis, which rebounded off a close infielder, lifted the home side. Fayman then snared two wickets in an over to have Cheltenham reeling at 6-69.

Majtlis had another wicket just after the lunchbreak, but it wasn’t to be for the Firsts,
which could only watch as Cheltenham went on to register 169.

With 27 overs left in the day, Rowan Bricker showed class and resolve with an unbeaten 32, as the Maccabi AJAX side finished on 5-85.

The Second XI suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Cheltenham, losing outright. Having
already conceded first-innings points on day one, after being dismissed for a paltry 75, the side followed up with an even worse performance in its second dig, posting just 66.

Darren Bloch (31) and Jason Webb (13) looked solid early, progressing the score to 2-40, but Webb’s wicket sparked a collapse from which the side never emerged.

The Seconds needed to dismiss their opposition for under 54 runs to get the points, but
Cheltenham, needed  just 16 overs to record a massive win.

The Third XI secured a convincing home win against McKinnon. Resuming at 3-71 and needing just 37 more runs to win, the Thirds passed the required score and kicked on to a healthy 7-181 before declaring for a chance at an outright win. The visitors saw out the day on 4-73.

The Fourth XI crashed to an outright defeat at McKinnon. With a lead of 101, McKinnon declared at the start of the day and managed to bowl the Fourths out for 103. Adam Wiser (20) and Tim Fone (18) were the standout performers with the bat.

In its second innings, McKinnon chased down the three runs required for outright victory.

Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World