Walt Secord completes his conversion to Judaism

June 30, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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NSW Labor frontbencher and the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel deputy chair Walt Secord has recently completed his conversion to Judaism through Sydney’s Emanuel Synagogue.

Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins and Walt Secord

After 15 months of instruction and private Hebrew lessons, Mr Secord completed the process on June 10.  A small group of his friends including his fiancé and partner of seven years, Julia Levitina attended his naming ceremony several days later.

He has taken the Hebrew name – Abraham.

“It was quite an emotional and wonderful several days,” Mr Secord said.

“After appearing before the Progressive movement’s Beit Din, I undertook the ritual immersion at Parsley Bay. It was on the coldest day in 37 years in Sydney with the temperature only reaching slightly above 10 degrees. It was so cold that I have to admit that it was the most rapid but thorough reciting of the Shema Yisrael, I have ever done.

The rabbis made it a day that I will never forget.”

Mr Secord thanked Emanuel Synagogue chief minister Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins for being his “sponsoring” rabbi and Rabbi Rafi Kaiserblueth and Rabbi Cantor George Mordecai for “braving” the elements at Parsley Bay as part of the conversion process on June 10.

He also paid tribute to Shelly Triffon, director of the Sydney Hebrew Ulpan for her ”patience” as I struggled to grasp and understand Hebrew via zoom at the height of COVID.

Mr Secord has been associated with the Jewish community since his childhood in rural southern Canada on a First Nation Indian reserve, where his childhood mentor was a Holocaust survivor. Mr Secord was the product of a bi-cultural relationship. His late father was a Mohawk-Ojibway First Nation and his mother, who still resides on the reserve is an Anglo-Canadian.

“I’ve been connected to the Jewish community since my childhood – so it is about a 50-year connection. It felt inevitable.

It has been a process that I had been thinking about for a long, long time and it is the formalisation of what I have felt and known for years: that I am joining the Jewish community and Julia’s people are my people.

This also means that Julia and I can get married under the chuppah in October and when the inevitable happens, we can be buried together in the Jewish section of a cemetery.”

Mr Secord migrated to Australia in September 1988 and worked at the Australian Jewish News for four years from 1988 to 1991.

Since 1991, Mr Secord has been associated with the Labor Party in various capacities at the local, state and federal levels. He has worked as a press secretary, director of communications and chief of staff to two Premiers, several State and Federal ministers and a Federal Opposition leader.

In 2011, he became a Member of the NSW Parliament and has held various positions including Shadow Treasurer, Shadow Minister for Roads and Shadow Minister for Health.

Earlier this month, he was appointed as Shadow Minister for Police, Shadow Minister for Counter-Terrorism, Shadow Minister for the Arts and Heritage and Shadow Minister for the North Coast.

He has also been deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel since 2011 and has visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories on multiple lengthy occasions since then.


3 Responses to “Walt Secord completes his conversion to Judaism”
  1. Paul Winter says:

    Mazal Tov!

  2. Liat Kirby says:

    What an incredible story – a lovely story. Mazal tov, Abraham Secord.

  3. john nemesh says:

    Mazal Tov Walt—-and many happy and healthy years ahead with Julia.

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