ECAJ: Goot passes the baton

November 29, 2016 by Henry Benjamin
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Former The Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot has handed the leadership over to Anton Block…following the organisation’s policy of alternating Sydney and Melbourne as the home city of president.

Robert Goot has completed his second term as the roof organisation’s president having served between 2007 and 2010 and from 2013 to 2016.

Anton Block and Robert Goot Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Anton Block and Robert Goot Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

He told the conference: “Central to the Strategic Plan was the recognition that heightened challenges require a heightened and greater professional public affairs advocacy effort by the ECAJ. The times demanded a strong representative voice which did not seek to quell other voices but which sought to coordinate and leverage them. These were the challenges that I believed the ECAJ had to be equipped to meet.”

He added: “In the succeeding nine years we have put the ECAJ  on a professional footing to enable the community’s voice to be listened to with respect, knowing that the ECAJ is representative, measured and reasonable in its advocacy as well as focused on leveraging and coordinating views.

And in saying that the ECAJ is representative, measured and reasonable in its advocacy, I cannot emphasise sufficiently, the need for the Jewish community to always calibrate its public responses – to know how to operate its volume control – and to know when it is better to make no response – when to say nothing.”

Anton Block, Jillian Segal and Robert Goot Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Anton Block, Jillian Segal and Robert Goot Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Goot told the annual conference at Sydney’s Moriah College: ” I want to say something about the ECAJ’s professional staff – Peter Wertheim, Alex Ryvchin and Julie Nathan. What has been achieved by the ECAJ this year as with past years, is very much due to their knowledge, skill, experience and dedication.”

He added: “I want you to know that nine years after launching the ECAJ Strategic Plan, as I end my second term of President, I am very proud of where the ECAJ stands and what it has achieved.”

During his address new president Anton Block said: “Our role as the voice of Australian Jewry is to develop and maintain those key relationships with decision makers and decision influencers to ensure that when the going gets tough for the Jews, they stand with us.

I see our role in eight categories, namely;

  •   advocacy to government, opposition parties, the media and lobby groups – the Australian Jewish community through the ECAJ must continue to be a positive, trusted and welcomed participant in public affairs;
  •   combatting anti-Semitism;
  •   furthering education and understanding of the Holocaust;
  • Presidents past and present, Dr Joachim Schneeweiss,Dianne Shteinman, Anton Block, Jeremy Jones and Robert Goot

    Presidents past and present, Dr Joachim Schneeweiss 1976-78, 1980-82,Diane Shteinman 1996-98, Anton Block, Jeremy Jones 2001-4 and Robert Goot 2007-10, 2013-16 and Danny Lamm 2010-13 Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

      ensuring the security of our community from East West, South to North;

  •   building bridges with other ethnic and religious groups;
  •   building understanding of Israel as an integral part of Jewish identity;
  •   Representing Australian Jewry on the Jewish World Stage; and
  •   Telling everyone this is what we do.If we want the community to know who the ECAJ is, appreciate our good work and provide us with appropriate support, we have to tell them regularly.So this is what you can expect from me.
  •   I will be pushing us all hard to look for and to create opportunities to talk about our successes to the community;
  •   We will continue to do the outstanding work that we have been doing;
  •   I will work with each State body in a consultative and respectful manner;
  •   I will make myself available to participate in your meetings and community events wherever possible; and
  •   I will seek to better involve ECAJ Councilors in the decision making processes of the ECAJ and to enhance the utility of the Committee of Management meetings making them more than reporting sessions.Together, I believe we can do great things to make this organisation not just the leading organisation in Australia, but the premier Jewish organisation in Australia.

During the conference was a discussion on the Federal government’s announcement of a “Parliamentary Inquiry into Freedom of Speech”. The conference was addressed by Liberal MP Julian Lesser who say that every person in the community who should talk with whoever had come to protecting Section 18C .

The conference was addressed by Israel’s ambassador to Australia Shmuel Ben-Shmuel.

The head office under executive director Peter Wertheim continues to be based in Sydney. Jillian Segal remains Deputy President.

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