An Aussie vice-president for B’Nai B’rith International

December 22, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Sydney’s James Altman has been elected senior vice president of B’nai B’rith International by the organization’s International Board of Governors during its triennial meeting in Washington.

James Altman

In this leadership position, Altman takes an active role in implementing B’nai B’rith’s policies and programs during a three-year term.

James Altman served as president of B’nai B’rith Australia/New Zealand (BBANZ) from 2002-2006 and 2010-2013. He is also past chairman of B’nai B’rith Courage to Care—a community education program for students and adults aimed at teaching how to be an upstander rather than a bystander in the face of discrimination and prejudice, especially in relation to anti-Semitism. Having been involved with the program since its inception in 1999, he became chairman of Courage to Care in 2019 and was honoured with the B’nai B’rith International President’s Award for his work with the program.

Altman is also chairman of the B’nai B’rith Foundation in Australia, which aids victims of natural disasters around the world.

Through his involvement in BBANZ, Altman was instrumental in securing amendments to the Resolution on the Rights of the Child from the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. He has also volunteered with the Refugee Council of Australia, the Australian Refugee Foundation and the Online Hate Prevention Institute.

In 2008, he received the Medal of the Order of Australia from the Australian government for his service to the Jewish community and for fostering intercultural understanding.

Altman is the son of Austrian Jews who escaped to Australia from Vienna in 1938. They were among the founding members of B’nai B’rith Australia, established in 1944.

James Altman told J-Wire: “In my new role as Senior Vice-President in B’nai B’rith International, I’m hoping to expand the awareness of our amazing Courage to Care program, promoting the importance of every person being an upstander when confronted by discrimination and racism.  We have had expressions of interest in this unique program from the USA, UK, Israel, and New Zealand, and I’m looking forward 1to being able to build on this.

B’nai B’rith is involved in some world-leading initiatives and advocacy in the areas of human rights and social justice, especially in Canada, but also in other countries. I hope to be able to bring an awareness of these to our members and supporters in Australia, and to raise our profile in the community through innovative programs and events.”

Outside of his work with B’nai B’rith, Altman has a passion for music and has been involved in choirs for most of his life, including in the late 1970s and 1980s when he conducted the choir of the Great Synagogue in Sydney. Altman is married to Elaine and together they have two adult daughters and three grandsons.

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