Jeremy Spinak passes away at 36

November 15, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The former president of The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies Jeremy Spinak has died from cancer following a brave battle lasting several months.

Jeremy Spinak
former President
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies

The 36-yr-old served as the president of the Board from 2014 until August this year.

The current president Lesli Berger and CEO Vic Alhadeff issued a statement saying: “We express our deepest condolences to Jeremy’s wife Rhiannon, his baby twins, parents, siblings and the extended Spinak family.

Jeremy joined the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies in his mid-20s and made a significant impact on all areas of our work, in particular being the driving force behind an increased focus on intercultural relationships and many of our interfaith programs.

He was a much-loved and greatly respected leader of the community. His contribution to enhanced political bipartisanship, a nuanced approach to advocacy and engagement with all sectors within the Jewish community were features of his presidency.

His influence on our approach to representing the community, coalition-building, legislative reform, child protection and supporting marriage equality were among the numerous achievements which will be his lasting legacy both to our organisation and the entire community. He helped make the community safer. He possessed a sharp intellect and keen sense of humour, but most importantly, he was a mensch, devoting countless hours to the Board of Deputies despite a demanding career and his responsibilities as a young husband and father.

Jeremy’s light shone brightly, but not long enough. He will be deeply missed by all Board of Deputies staff, executive members and deputies and the entire community.

May his memory be a blessing. On behalf of the entire community, we wish his family Long Life.”

Jeremy served as the deputy president of NSWJBD when Robert Goot was the president of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Robert Goot joins the ECAJ’s current president Anton Block and co-CEOs Peter Wertheim and Alex Ryvchin as they pay a tribute to Jeremy Spinak.

They stated: “Jeremy was Immediate Past President of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and, from August 2014 to August 2018, a Vice President of the ECAJ.  There was a wonderful communal tribute to Jeremy at the Board’s AGM in August when Jeremy completed his maximum term of 4 years as the Board’s President.  It was attended by the NSW Premier and the Leader of the Opposition, both of whom spoke glowingly about Jeremy, and by many other political and communal leaders, among the capacity audience of about 300 people.

Jeremy was devoted to his family and to the community, and he gave freely of himself to both.  His passing is a great loss to all of us.  At 36 years of age, he had a wise head on young shoulders. Jeremy was well liked and respected by everyone who knew him. He had excellent judgement and a compassionate, Jewish heart.  In all his communal work he was a conciliator, a healer and a unifier.  He was a true mensch.

We extend our heartfelt condolences and wish long life to Rhiannon and his two children, Grace and Michael.  It is an unspeakable tragedy for them that they will no longer have the benefit of having Jeremy in their lives.

It is also a tragedy for the community that we will no longer have the benefit of someone with Jeremy’s leadership talents. He had so much potential and had he been spared he could have fulfilled many leadership roles in the decades to come.  His passing leaves a great void.”

Other tributes are pouring in from other lay leaders.

The leader of the Opposition in the NSW parliament Michael Daley paid tribute to Mr Spinak for his ground-breaking work in combating racism and working closely with other community groups – especially on changes to NSW anti-discrimination laws.  He said: “I’ve known Jeremy for a long time. He was such a lovely person “I know that he was deeply loved by the Jewish community and renowned for his work in advocating for a tolerant and decent society – in a bipartisan manner.”

Ray Williams, the NSW Minister for Multiculturalism wrote: “I offer my sincere condolences to Jeremy Spinak’s family and the Jewish community during this challenging time.

Jeremy was a remarkable man who was committed to his family and community.

During his tenure as the President of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the organisation went from strength to strength. Jeremy focused on social cohesion and building a safer NSW for all of our diverse communities.

He was a passionate community leader, who I enjoyed working with during my time as Minister for Multiculturalism. I will remember him with fondness.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the community during this time.”

Deputy Opposition Leader in the NSW Legislative Council and Deputy-Chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel – Walt Secord said: “On behalf of the NSW Labor Party, I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Mr Jeremy Spinak including his wife and two children.

As news of Jeremy’s passing spread through the corridors of the NSW Parliament, we were all overcome with a dark cloud of sadness.

Those who knew Jeremy as a friend, a work colleague and as a Jewish community leader loved him and admired his commitment to public service.

Jeremy was a warm and caring person who loved everyone, his family and his community – and never had a harsh word for another person.

Jeremy lived by the principle of Tikkun Olam.

Jeremy undertook ground-breaking work in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism and worked tirelessly to build bridges with other communities.

At his last meeting at the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, he said that in years to come after his passing he hoped that when people encountered his children, they would say nice things about him;  I can say without hesitation – Jeremy, we will.”

Former Labor leader in the NSW Parliament Luke Foley told J-Wire: “The world is a sadder place with the passing of Jeremy Spinak.

Jeremy was my dear friend. Beyond that, he was an outstanding leader of our Jewish community and of our multicultural society.

As President of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, Jeremy worked closely with both a conservative government and a Labor opposition to further the interests of the state’s Jewry. He was a bridge builder.

I always appreciated Jeremy’s ceaseless efforts to support, encourage and cajole Labor’s friends of Israel. He was an immense support to me, and to many of my colleagues.

And Jeremy’s determined efforts delivered our state new laws that criminalise the incitement to violence on the basis of one’s ethnicity or religion. 

He was a mensch. May he rest in peace, and may his family and friends find comfort among the mourners of Zion.”

Jeremy Jones AIJAC’s Director of International and of Community Affairs, who worked closely with Jeremy Spinak over the past decade, issued this statement today on behalf of AIJAC’s National Chairman Mark Leibler, NSW Chairman Paul Rubenstein, Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein and himself:  “Jeremy Spinak will be greatly missed by his family, the Jewish community and throughout Australia.

As a young, passionate and talented leader, he had a significant impact on all the organisations with which he was involved.

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies benefitted from his considerable skills, vision and dedication. His input to the deliberations of the ECAJ was also invaluable.
For AIJAC, he was a valued and respected colleague.
His passing, at far too young an age, is heart-wrenching, particularly for the family he loved so much, his friends, who were so deeply affected by his tremendous personality and terrible illness, and all with whom he worked professionally and as a volunteer.
In both public and private events thanking him for his presidency of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, he showed great character and considerable courage, while receiving many well-warranted tributes.
May his memory always be a blessing to his family and may his many accomplishments continue to bring him well-deserved honour”

Federal Labor MP Michael Danby added: “I mourn the passing of Jeremy Spinak, Chairman of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. Jeremy’s passing will not only be mourned by his family and the Jewish Community in NSW but by the wider community, including people in national politics, with whom he had such a constructive relationship.

Jeremy’s vision as one of the new young leaders of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies put that organisation on a strong footing. He set a strong example of nonpartisan engagement with the wider world and he will be sorely missed.

Peter Wise, chairman of the Council for Jewish Community Security (NSW) commented: “As one of the directors of CJCS, director of CSG and during his term as President of the Board of Deputies, I had the privilege of working very closely with Jeremy for many years. During that period of association we were in constant contact with each other and were drawn together very closely by shared values, common objectives, and respect for each other – and we worked harmoniously and well to fulfil our mission of keeping our community safe.

I particularly valued Jeremy’s finely calibrated sense of judgement; his ability to cut through to the very centre of issues under consideration; and his dignified and personable approach to those who worked with him and to the broader Jewish community which he represented so well. There were many occasions where his sense of judgement was brought to the test in a communal security sense, and he never faltered; and at every step, he showed deep understanding, commitment and love for the Jewish community which was so much a part of his very being.

We will miss him around our board table, and the community will miss the future contribution that he was destined to make for the wellbeing of us all.”

Dr David Adler, the president of the Australian Jewish Association, commented: “I want to convey condolences from the Australian Jewish Association (AJA) on the death of Jeremy Spinak. We respect his genuine commitment and efforts for the Jewish community.

It is particularly tragic at his age, especially having started a young family.
We extend our condolences and thoughts to his family and those who worked closely with him at the NSWJBD.”


One Response to “Jeremy Spinak passes away at 36”
  1. Mazal balboul says:

    I am deeply sad and sorry, to hear about a losing such a remarkable persomay his soul Rest In Peace

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