Pesach Message from the JCA

March 29, 2010 Agencies
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David Balkin, President of the Jewish Communal Appeal sends a personal message for Pesach

Understanding our challenges and dealing with our needs ‘at home’

David Balkin

Pesach is the story of the redemption of the Jewish people and the formation of Am Yisrael. We remind ourselves every year what it means to be ‘free’ and why we as Jews never want to be ‘enslaved’ again.

Yet today, three thousand years later, Israel and being Jewish again are threatened by a level of anti-semitism that is greater than during the Holocaust. The international campaign to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish homeland is just as anti-semitic as the stereotypical manifestations our forebears have experienced over the centuries.

Many in our community believe that these are not Australian problems. But what if they are wrong? Could what we are seeing in Europe today happen here? I have no doubt that it could.

I also believe there is much we can do ‘at home’ to neutralise these threats.

For example we can

– learn more about what it means to be a Jew so that we know what we are holding onto and why.

– act as personal ambassadors for Israel’s right to exist by being informed and having the courage to speak up

– rebuild the Diaspora’s contract with Israel to reflect their mutual dependence

– strengthen commercial, cultural and technological relationships between Israel and Australia that go beyond the shared bonds of history and values

– be even more aggressive in our efforts to show how we can be the ‘light unto the nations’ through our acts of ‘tikun olam’

– help each other to be strong and secure through our charity and kind acts

Some of these actions require only your own involvement and commitment. However, most require responses from our own community’s institutions as well. It is what we do ‘at home’ that will profoundly affect how we address these priorities. This is where the JCA family of 21 member organisations really make a difference.

Let’s focus on JCA’s major organisations. We rely on the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies to ensure the community’s political and physical security. We expect our Dayschools, Academy BJE and the Progressive Board of Jewish Education to give our children a love for Yiddishkeit and to teach them how being Jewish adds meaning to their lives. We trust Maccabi to keep our youngsters connected through sport. We rely on the Shalom Institute to support our young adults on campus and in the social arena. We depend upon JewishCare, the Montefiore Home, COA Sydney and Wolper Hospital to support our aged, our sick and our needy. We rely on the Sydney Jewish Museum and B’nai B’rith to showcase how tolerance and dignity for others builds a stronger society.

It is these larger organisations and the rest of our members working together through their JCA that has been, and will be, the key to our success. We ensure that individually and collectively each organisation and the community as a whole have the wherewithal to support these priorities.

This is what we do to make our community stronger. But we cannot do this without your ongoing support. Making an annual donation is the first and easiest way to continue this success.

Secondly, everyone can make a difference by avoiding complacency and by appreciating our community’s magnificent institutions which work so hard to make Australia and NSW such wonderful places for Jews to thrive and prosper.

For us to continue to be ‘free’, in the sense that Pesach so clearly defines for us,‘charity must begin at home’ as we reflect on what we need to do here to tackle our community’s greatest challenges.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a chag sameach and a healthy Pesach.

David Balkin

President, Jewish Communal Appeal

Comments

4 Responses to “Pesach Message from the JCA”
  1. Gary says:

    This pesach message to the community seems to be doing more harm to the JCA name than good.
    David is a good leader, but he must know that exaggerted claims and injections of fear will not yield an increase in donations.

  2. Larry Stillman says:

    What sort of silliness is this to undermine the security in which most people live? Talk about spreading a culture of paranoia and misinformation.

    It insults the mind to think that the situation today in Europe, Australia, or even Israel, with all its problems is similar to that in the Holocaust. This is straight out of right-wing Israeli propaganda, particularly because it ignores the politics of why political anti-Semitism (more actually anti-Israelism is on the rise).

    What is also of concern is that the strategies suggested locally are all inward looking. There is nothing that is genuinely and openly directed towards acts towards welcoming the stranger (and thus building community relations)–and one would think, based on the Haggadah, that the needs of refugees would be high on the list of things to act upon. Instead, it is couched as ‘be more aggressive’ as ‘light unto the nations’. What about being just good citizens?

    This is terrible public relations.

  3. Tom Wolkenberg says:

    This is an outrageous claim that does nothing but devalue the Holacaust. Others are derided for using analogies involving the Shoah. But community officials believe it is their right to do just that . The Shoah is unique in our experience. All, repeat all, must learn this.

  4. Michael Jaku says:

    David Balkin’s assertion that we are “threatened by a level of anti-semitism that is greater than during the Holocaust” takes hyperbole to new heights! If this is a tactic to increase donations to JCA it might unfortunately have the reverse effect.

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