Change at the top for Maccabi Australia

December 13, 2017 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Barry Smorgon announced that after 11 years’ service to the MAI board as President for the last four years and prior to that as  the Chairman he was not seeking re-election to the Board.

Jeff Sher and Barry Smorgon

Jeff Sher, a current board member who served Barry as vice President for the past four years, was elected unanimously as the new President of MAI at the recent AGM.

Barry Smorgon accepted a co-opted role to assist with the transition of the organisation to ensures its stability and noted that after 11 years of leadership he felt it was time to step aside to enable change, succession and a smooth transition.  He said: “The capability of the Board is strong, and the team is well placed to lead the organization to its next stage in development.”

He has been a long-term supporter of Maccabi, his enthusiasm was re-ignited, when, he became the Patron for the first Maccabi International Games held in Sydney in 2006. He was then asked to join the Board at this time as Chairman and since then has been instrumental in pursuing important changes to the organisation some of which are listed below:

  • Reform of the Constitution – to ensure that the State Maccabi bodies were represented on the MAI board and that the interests were a priority in strategy settings. This overcame the state based division that has dogged the organisation for some time
  • Broadened and resolved the membership definition in line with the demographic shifts of the community enabling participant athletes to become full members of Maccabi if either parent is Jewish.
  • Lead the implementation of the Member Protection Policy (MPP ) which was developed to provide all Maccabi members and stakeholders protection from issues such as  bullying , discrimination and abuse etc. The Policy has been recognized by the Royal Commission Into Child Abuse for its depth and quality of processes
  • Changed the method and management of the 2017 Maccabiah, which led to the delivery of the largest and most successful team ever to represent Australia
  • Instilled a culture of Governance and transparent management which lead to the centralisation of complex issues which were dealt with through the MAI office
  • Commissioned an Independent Strategic Review which resulted in a more clearly articulated vision of the respective roles of the Clubs, State & National Bodies
  • Revamped the Junior Carnival format to re-orientate it more toward sporting event.
  • Developed the National Fundraising model to underpin the various programs that the Maccabi so proudly offers the Community – such as the All Abilities and leadership programs

In his new role Barry Smorgon will continue his work and build on the connections with Maccabi World Union, support key revenue raising initiatives and take on the role of Head of Delegation for the 2021 Maccabi Games. Barry noted that he wants to act as a sounding board and guide to the incoming Board whilst providing them the space to deliver on the major strategic initiatives now agreed

Jeff Sher joined the MAI Board in 2009, having been involved with Maccabi since emigrating from South Africa in 1978. His service to the organisation has spanned two states (NSW and VIC) where he was not only a participating athlete but also an administrator in the swimming and water polo teams.

As a swimmer and water polo player, Jeff has participated in 7 Maccabiah, winning 15 medals. At the 2009 Games he won 4 Gold Medals, 2 Silver and four years later performed even better, winning 5 Gold, 2 Silver in Masters Swimming across all freestyle distances including the Ocean swim and was the recipient of the 2013 Maccabi National and Victorian Masters Sportsman of the year awards.

Jeff Sher has an MBA and significant experience in business leadership. He has been a CEO of an Australian public listed company and an Executive Director of a transnational business. More recently he has been a strategic consultant to many significant retail and supply chain companies.

He has served the MAI board in various capacities including National Sports, Leadership and Strategy.  In his capacity on the board and as a member of the Executive team Jeff has been instrumental in developing the Vision, Mission and Values of the organisation and through this framework relentlessly pursued a One Team, One Voice objective to gain a greater level of integration across the organisation. In addition, ensured that an open and transparent management approach was applied across the organisation to build community trust and respect.

Most recently, he Chaired the Internal Review of the 2013 Maccabiah , the outcomes  of which were  presented to the incoming Board & will be an important blueprint for the next Maccabiah in 2021 and beyond

Barry noted that Jeff has been not only a strong advocate for change but as my right hand has enabled much of what has been achieved over the past four years.  “I have no doubt that Jeff will be an outstanding President of Maccabi for many years to come”


Board members elected at the AGM were:

Daniel Parasol (Vic) – Revenue Raising portfolio

David Cohen (NSW) – Sports Development portfolio. David replaces Lauren Ehrlich who has now been appointed as the State President of Maccabi NSW

Mikki Silverman (VIC) – was re- elected as Chair of International Sports with responsibility for Maccabiah and other international Games.


They join current Board members including:

Syd Kahn – Treasurer

Phil Sheezel – Governance & Risk

Julian Dunne – Marketing and Brand Development

Dean Rzechta – Sport Development – responsible for National Sporting and Masters Programs

Brian Swersky – State President Maccabi Victoria

Joan Hillman – State President WA

Tom Goldman – Chair of the Board of Governors


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