Rabbi to receive top award from Catholic university
Rabbi Raymond Apple will be awarded Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) highest honour this week, Doctor of the University, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Christian-Jewish understanding, interfaith co-operation and community engagement.
Professor Greg Craven, Vice-Chancellor of ACU, said Rabbi Apple, who now resides in Israel, has been a prominent figure in Australian public life for more than four decades.
He spoke about the former spiritual leader of Sydney’s Great Synagogue.
“Involved in everything from teaching at university and Jewish religious leadership, to the Australian Defence Force and interfaith work, Rabbi Apple is an exemplar of outstanding community engagement in many areas of Australian life,” he said.
“His indefatigable energy has been seen in his constant activity as a teacher, religious leader, scholar, speaker and author.”
After graduating in Arts and Laws from the University of Melbourne, Rabbi Apple became a Master of Letters at the University of New England.
His theological studies at the London School of Jewish Studies brought him diplomas as a minister and teacher as well as rabbinic ordination.
In Melbourne he was headmaster of the United Jewish Education Board, while in London he was religious director of the Association for Jewish Youth, headed the Jewish Marriage Education Council and held ministerial office at the Bayswater and Hampstead Synagogues.
Returning to Australia in 1972, Rabbi Apple became a widely respected spokesman on national moral and social issues. As senior rabbi of the Great Synagogue, Sydney, he was Australia’s highest-profile rabbi for over 32 years.
Rabbi Apple was also senior rabbi to the Australian Defence Force for nearly 20 years after serving as an army reserve chaplain, for which work he was awarded the Reserve Force Decoration.In the Jewish community, he was honorary vice-president of the NSW Board of Jewish Education, judge and registrar of the Jewish ecclesiastical court, president for several terms of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia and president of the Australian Jewish Historical Society.
He also lectured in Jewish law at the University of New South Wales and taught Jewish Studies at Sydney University for more than 30 years.
The promotion of understanding between faith communities has long been of huge importance to Rabbi Apple. The founder of the Australian Council of Christians and Jews, he is also widely known as an ecclesiastical diplomat.
Rabbi Apple was appointed in 2004 an Officer of the Order of Australia after having been previously made a Member of the Order in 1979. He was awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and the Centenary of Federation medal in 2003.
Rabbi Apple will receive the award in absentia at ACU’s graduation ceremony in Sydney this Thursday. He is currently at home in Jerusalem.
J-Wire asked him if he had any outstanding memories of his inter-faith activities. Rabbi Apple replied: “In human relations we do not measure success by single achievements but by climate change. The climate between the Jewish and Christian faith communities in Australia has definitely become more cordial in recent decades and I am happy to have played a part in the process. A good relationship has also built up with other non-Christian groups including the Muslims, though Jewish-Muslim dialogue is still at the beginning. My personal policy has always been something I learnt from the late Judge Neville Laski, a former president of the British Board of Deputies, that the best public work is done privately.”