Graham and Elana receive top Victorian community awards

November 18, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Jewish Community Council of Victoria has presented the General Sir John Monash Award for Outstanding Service to the Jewish Community to Grahame Leonard and the Sylvia Gelman Young Leader Award to Elana Forbes.

Grahame Leonard

Grahame has been an incredible asset to the Jewish community for many decades. Alongside a colourful career, which has featured accounting, management, consulting, law and strategic development, Grahame has successfully developed an incredible resumé of volunteer positions both within and outside of the Jewish community.

In the early-to-mid 2000s, Grahame was Director and Honorary CEO of the Australian Chapter of Transparency International, a global NGO dedicated to combating corruption around the world. In this capacity, he led twelve independent studies into systemic corruption in Pacific nations and launched the National Integrity Assessment into the strengths, opportunities and challenges for Australia’s Integrity Systems.

Grahame has been President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the JCCV, Maccabi Tennis Club and the Judaean Scouts; he has also been the Secretary of Hakoah Tennis Club, Commissioner of the Victorian Multicultural Commission, a member of the Board of Management Monash University Foundation for Jewish Studies, and President and Chairman of a range of B’nai B’rith initiatives.

At the other end of the spectrum, long time SKIF member and youth leader Elana Forbes has displayed a commitment through leadership to her Jewish and Yiddish-speaking communities in Victoria.

Elana Forbes (ctr) working with younger members of the community

Elana is the past Chairperson of SKIF, the youth group of the Yiddish Bundist movement, a role in which she thrived alongside her studies in medicine. Elana went over and beyond the bounds of the role, innovating events and caring for the physical, psychological and intellectual well-being of the SKIF community. During her time as Chairperson, Elana also oversaw the first-ever SKIF-run Tikun Leyl on Shevues/Shavuot.

Elana’s commitment to Yiddish and the Yiddish community is unquestionable, regularly volunteering with the Mir Kumen On Yiddish Choir, as well as running activities at the annual Yiddish-language retreat, Yidish Sof-Vokh Oystralye. She has also taken a leading role in the Jewish Labor Bund’s Culture Committee, where she has conducted a range of on-line events, including a podcast series addressing Jewish issues and videocasts about various topics related to Jewish life and history.

Grahame and Elana are incredible and inspiring bookends of our community’s leadership, and the JCCV is proud to have the opportunity to recognise them for their contributions. Grahame and Elana received their awards at JCCV’s AGM on Monday.

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