ECAJ joins with AUJS for inaugural Advocacy Summit

August 7, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The ECAJ and AUJS held the inaugural advocacy summit in Sydney last weekend aimed at giving Jewish students the skills, knowledge and confidence to advocate on issues that affect the Australian Jewish community.

Alex Ryvchin

ECAJ co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said: “This was a highly meaningful event. It brought together the community’s most senior professionals and leaders to train our student leadership in techniques of effective advocacy. In one day, we managed to cover everything from history and competing narratives of the conflict to skills like speechmaking, debating, lobbying and media interviews.”

Sessions were facilitated by senior professionals and communal leaders from the ECAJ, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Zionist Federation of Australia and AIJAC.

“The campus is a critical forum for political activism and what happens there not only greatly impacts on the wellbeing of our students but it influences the political discourse well beyond the university,” Ryvchin said. “We want to ensure that our students can stand up for the causes they believe in, and that affect us all as Australian Jews. We also want to identify those in our student community who have the potential and the desire to become professional advocates for our community”.

AUJS Political Director Noa Bloch observed that as efforts to delegitimise Israel escalate on campus, “so too [do] the duties and expectations on Jewish students. We believe it our responsibility to ensure that our members feel supported to confidently and thoughtfully engage with their fellow students on the conflict and dispel many of the myths that have taken root.”

Peter Wertheim

Peter Wertheim, co-CEO of the ECAJ led sessions on Jewish civics and lobbying: “I spoke briefly about the demographic, political and religious profile of the Australian Jewish community and the major organisations within the community.  The participants then broke up into groups simulating the major national Jewish organisations which are involved in advocacy.  Their task was to formulate the most appropriate response by their respective organisations to a major breaking news story concerning Israel.   The second session was an exercise simulating a meeting with a key Australian political figure about an issue of fundamental concern to the Jewish community.  There was group discussion throughout on each group’s and person’s responses.”

Ryvchin led a session on speechmaking. “After going through some principles of speechmaking including rhetoric, writing, editing, audience and delivery, and some discussion and analysis of clips of great speeches in history, the group had an opportunity to craft and deliver their own Gettysburg addresses on a  topic that relates to campus advocacy. The students took to the session with great enthusiasm and showed excellent abilities and potential as speakers and writers.”

Reflecting on the success of the event, Ryvchin said: “Advocating for our community at home and abroad is central to the work of the ECAJ and we have made training our student leaders in this area a key priority. We are delighted to see so many AUJS members willing to stand up and advocate on issues that affect us all as Jews. Listening to the feedback of students, it is clear that the summit was a great success and will lead to better, more effective and confident advocacy on campus. I want to commend Noa Bloch, Saul Burston and the national leadership for helping me turn this idea into a successful event which will surely become an important fixture on the communal calendar.”

The Advocacy Summit now moves to Melbourne on August 19. Tickets for the Melbourne Summit can be purchased here:

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