While Bigots Rant, There’s Always Babs

Barbra-Streisand-2So every week I reflect on the JCA mission and how we are tracking, not just on the fundraising (we’re tracking well, but still have a way to go), but on the big mission – ensuring our community is sustainable, vibrant and secure. And this week I can report to you, on each of those goals. And also get a Barbara Streisand plug in. Read on.

On sustainability, the Allocations Committee, comprising Louise Thurgood Phillips, Howard Ware, Phillip Wolanski AM and Anna Green (ably supported by JCA’s head of strategic planning Alain Hasson and co-ordinator George Davey) have been diligently and respectfully meeting with each JCA member organisations asking all manner of probing questions on your behalf. Rest assured, the team also congratulates our constituents on their successes, focuses on future successes, and seeks opportunities to assist with particular projects. They look at where JCA can better facilitate cooperation between constituents and across sectors. They talk honestly about long term challenges for some, and succession planning for others.

It is very interesting to watch this process, which, by the way, has been developed over the past 50 years by so many smart and communally committed people. And in so many ways, in every meeting, I hear someone from the Allocations Committee say, in effect: “we are the representatives of the donors”. And yes, the process is rigorous to ensure your generous donations to our community – via JCA – are in safe, thoughtful, and strong hands.

family day picmonkey collage1On vibrancy, you need look no further than the photos on our Facebook page from last Sunday’s JCA Kids Music Festival. Over 1,300 people aged between 9 days and 90 years (with a fairly heavy skew to the bottom end of that scale), literally “rocked up” to Randwick Racecourse to revel with Rick Recht. (There’s a tongue twister for you).

This is the fourth year we have run this family event and it gets bigger and better each year. A huge thanks go to Elyse Chiert and Rachel Swartz for the thought and creativity and love they put into this wonderful celebration. Thank you to their Family Day committee – Tal Allen, Justine Saidman, Tiffany Marcovitch, Candice Mervis, Emily Fisher, Lauren Placks, Naomi Rothman, Lee Adler, Sharon Adler – shown here in the bright t-shirts we could’ve sold hand over fist on the day, they were that popular. Thanks also to the many young volunteers, who enthusiastically helped wherever they could. And, of course, to the JCA team for all of their hard work behind the scenes and on the day.

family day picmonkey collage2By the way, I was back at Randwick Racecourse on Wednesday – with about 800 of you – at WIZO’s Major Function for the year and sat next to Rachel Swartz, whose mum, Gloria Newhouse co-chairs WIZO. All I could think was how, other than Rachel and I, there were probably only a dozen people in the hall who had been at both racecourse events. And what a picture of vibrancy that WIZO/JCA Randwick venn diagram was. Mazal Tov to Anat Vidor, and the WIZO team, for a great event and for their communal leadership.

And speaking of women in leadership, this week also saw the first JCA Jewish Women in Leadership breakfast, hosted by Kelly Bayer Rosmarin at CBA. Around 50 leading women in our community, including the CEOs of JCA member organisations, were inspired hearing from Dr Kerry Schott AO, who was thoughtfully and generously questioned by the AFR’s Jemima Whyte on all manner of topics relating to leadership. But really for me (being only one of three men in the room), the highlight was hearing Louise Thurgood Phillips’ ‘story’ and why community is so very important for her, and why JCA in particular. There was a wonderful feeling of strength and support in the room and very promising survey results from our guests.

Jewish Women in Leadership picmonkey collage1On security, it’s been a bit of a mixed week. Certainly, all these events went off without a hitch. And our huge thanks to the volunteers of the CSG who make sure we are safe while we are inside rocking with our kids and WIZO-ing.

But one matter of real concern was yesterday’s DPP and NSW Police decision not to proceed with charges against Ismail al-WahWah, the local head of Hizb ut-Tahrir for the anti-Semitic rant wherein he was filmed calling for violence against Jews. Us.

Now I’m pretty much a free speech guy. And I often am on the other side of the debate on things like 18C, but it’s pretty clear that in order to have a functioning tolerant multicultural democracy, one needs to have pretty clear rules about incitement to violence. Certainly, that’s what my grandmother, who grew up in Germany in the 1920s and 30s tells me, and she speaks with the clarity and authority of a survivor. She told me what happened last time somebody stood on street corners and called on people to “rid” the world of the Jewish “hidden evil”, and I am disinclined to ignore her, and her experience.

Apparently, the “the NSW Police Force has investigated the complaint thoroughly and found that, at this time, it is not possible to identify who uploaded the footage in question or charge him or her for uploading the offensive material.”

Anyone else agree this is quite literally a cop out of epic proportions?

So perhaps you might like to write to your local member of parliament (who for many of you, also happens to be the attorney general) and suggest that, notwithstanding the fact that we don’t know who the cameraman was, the Logie for Racist Rant of the year should go to Ismail al-WahWah, and perhaps the NSW Government could do something to ensure our community – and every other Australian – is not subjected to such incitement to violence.

If you want to experience a bit of what free speech and civilised debate looks like, there are still spaces available for sessions at this weekend’s excellent Sydney Jewish Writers Festival, brought to you by the Shalom Institute (a JCA member organisation).

So there you go, bigots ranting, JCA, PJ Library & Shalom Baby Kids Music Festival, JCA’s Jewish Women in Leadership, WIZO’s event, the writers fest – and JCA continues the work of ensuring a sustainable, vibrant and secure community.

But still no Babs. So what gives?

Well, if you can get down to Woollahra Oval #2 tomorrow at 1pm (walk there OK, it will do you good, and be in keeping with Shabbat) the annual Barbra Streisand Cup will be contested between Maccabi and The Convicts (an all gay team). Good luck lads! Have fun. If you’re closer to UNSW, then you can catch our own George Davey, captain of the 3rd Grade Mosman Whales in their semi-finals.

GO, Whales. GO, Maccabi! GO, Us!

Shabbat Shalom,

Dan, CEO

P.S. If you are looking for even more vibrancy, check out our newest event: a cooking class – “Quick, Delicious and Healthy” – which will result in a vegetarian meal and dessert! Of course, however good the recipes on the night, remember you don’t make friends with salad.

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