NSWJBD Plenum Farewells Rabbi Lawrence

May 21, 2014 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Sydney’s The Great Synagogue’s Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence has addressed NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum ahead of his move to England where he has been appointed spiritual leader of London’s Finchley United Synagogue.

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

After both serving and leading Sydney’s Jewish community for many years, Rabbi Lawrence spoke of his forthcoming role with his new congregation.

He shared  recollections of his time in Sydney community and delivered many important and meaningful messages to the plenum.

He discussed emerging inter-faith activities in Israel contrasting them with those in Australia. He emphasised how enhancing a sophisticated recognition of the multicultural nature of our society and our wider world must not be taken for granted.

Rabbi Lawrence also gave further insight into the importance of empowering younger generations and engaging their eagerness to grow while ensuring  the resources and support needed to pave the paths for the community’s future.

He expressed regret about leaving Australia.

Deputy Jenny Simons updated the work being conducted with Australia’s Indigenous communities. With a referendum to be held in 2015 focused on enhancing the recognition and respect of Indigenous Australians within the constitution, she promoted the Reconciliation Week campaign which focuses on the importance of raising wider community awareness of Australia’s Indigenous community adding that both Indigenous and Jewish people have a mutual understanding of a shared history and heritage.

As a member of the board and representative of the International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW), Linda Ben-Menashe spoke of the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women in New York she attended in March.

This conference engages with world leaders and is known as the premier international body where policy about gender equality is deliberated and decided among government bodies as well as lobby groups including non-government organisations.

Linda Ben-Menashe’s role as an ICJW representative included expanding relationships with local women’s NGOs, networking internally and externally to inform and become more informed of international policies affecting the status of women worldwide while discussing the importance of interfaith issues as well as the impacts of war and genocide on the status of women globally.

An important message Ben-Menashe had for the public forum was the sheer complexity of the world in which NGOs operate  as well at the underlying complexities that occur within the United Nations. Organisations such as the UN have their prejudices, and the role of Jewish women as representatives in the international sphere is vital to mitigate the effect these prejudices can have on global policy developments.

Women’s rights are human rights and Jewish women are leading and representing in women’s rights NGOs across the world to fight the oppression women face in various countries across the world, with ICJW serving as an excellent example.

President Yair Miller gave an update on the current status of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act stating that the state government currently supports no changes to policy and supports the protection of multicultural communities from racism and discrimination.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s executive director Peter Wertheim also elaborated on how the catastrophic impacts of changes to section 18C might impact on multicultural Australian society. He reported that that not a single Nakba day was commemorated on any campus in Australia which contrasts markedly with other parts of the word, demonstrating that the anti-Israel political focus has shifted to more traditional political advocacy though lobbying. He said that opponents of pro-Israel advocates are accessing different aspects of the political process to enhance their agenda. Wertheim added that although our community may feel that campuses are free from anti-Israel sentiments, there is still room for enhanced dialogue within the wider community.



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