Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the Australian Reform Zionist Association Inc. (ARZA) held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday 17 November 2020 via Zoom.



November 17 2020

  1. Attendance: A. Knopoff, H. Shardey, P. Levy, S. Denenberg, T. Leverton, S. Silberberg, C. Barrett, S. Shalam, T. Bowen, L. Kalisse, J. Birkett, R. Gross, P. Dorey, D. Knoll, J. Barnett, B. Samuel, P. Lawrence, P. Kohn, J. Keren Black, J. Henrie, D. Hochberg, L. Lockshin, P. Bliss, A. Fellman, L. Levi, J. Levi
  2. Apologies: H. Nathan, N. Roberts, R. Silk
  3. Video presentation from Gusti 
  4. Adoption of the minutes of the AGM held on Friday 8 November 2019. Moved, P. Levy, Seconded C. Barrett. Approved.
  5. Matters arising: None.
  6. President’s report


It is with pleasure that I report on the activities of ARZA Australia to the Annual General Meeting for the 2019-20 year, being held on November 17, 2020.

I was delighted to be elected President of Australia’s Progressive Zionist organization at its 2019 AGM, and at the same time also elected as Vice President of the Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ.)

My predecessor, Steve Denenberg had devoted more than a decade to ARZA Australia both as President and CEO. He has continued as the Immediate Past President and been very active and supportive in that role. I thank him for all his support and assistance.

In building the new board, ARZA was fortunate that some experienced board members remained on the board providing expertise in financial reporting (thanks to Tony Leverton) and Membership list building (thanks to Philip Levy, who has also been a Vice President)). We were also fortunate to recruit some new and young members to the Board, with 40% now being under the age of 35 years. We are most fortunate that the Netzer Mazkir, Lior Kalisse has joined our board as an Ex Officio Member along with the Netzer Shaliach Sefi Shalam. It has been a pleasure working with them. They have joined Sue Silberberg, our other Vice President in forming a sub-committee to look at ARZA Australia’s role in the community going forward. A new member of the board, Alex Knopoff from Adelaide took on the role of Secretary and has done a great job. Our thanks go to her.

As you probably know, ARZA Australia is the Zionist/political arm of the UPJ. At a planning weekend of the UPJ held in Sydney in February 2020, an agreement was made that moving forward, the UPJ, ARZA Australia and the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors (ARC) would work together in mutual co-operation and communication. This was done to ensure that the Australian Progressive Movement as much as possible speaks in unison with one voice in support of Eretz Israel and our Jewish beliefs.

With the World Zionist Congress planned for October 2020, the Australian Progressive Movement hoped to maximize its voice in Israel in support of Pluralism and equality in the Jewish Democratic State. To this end ARZA Australia moved to encourage all Progressive Jews to join as members to ensure the four mandates held by ARZA at the 2015 World Zionist Congress would be maintained.

ARZA successfully participated in the Area Election Committee and maintained the current number of WZC delegates, with a 30% increase in membership numbers making ARZA the largest Zionist organization in Australia. It was disappointing that the congress could not take place in person, but through the hard work of our world body, ARZENU, we were able to participate in the proceedings and a wonderful pre congress program provided by ARZENU. We now look forward to a gathering in Israel in 2021.

Through the tireless efforts of Philip Levy, our retiring male Vice President from Sydney, ARZA now has a comprehensive membership list. This means we can provide a weekly communication to all ARZA members and members of UPJ Congregations.

It is published in the UPJ News and Drash and emailed to ARZA members. It forms the basis of regular posts to the ARZA website, Facebook and Twitter. Statements on key issues such as annexation, normalisation with Arab States, gender equality, equality in Israel for the varying streams of Judaism and other issues are published, often jointly with the UPJ and ARC.

ARZA Australia has now established a sub- committee which is in the process of examining our role in the community going forward. With an increased membership and good relations with Zionist roof bodies, such as the Zionist Federation of Australia, State based Zionist organizations, our world roof body ARZENU, the World Union of Progressive Judaism and the World Zionist Organization, we look forward to broadening programs of interest to our members.

We welcome any suggestions from our members in relation to what you would like us to consider providing and how you view our current communications. Currently our work is only done by volunteers as we decided to put a moratorium on fees until next June because of hardships caused by Covid 19. However we are grateful to our partner, the UPJ for including our weekly communication in the UPJ News and Drash.

Finally, I thank the ARZA Australia Board, our members, the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors of Australia and New Zealand and the Union for Progressive Judaism for your ongoing support, assistance and encouragement in the continued growth of ARZA Australia.


  • ARZA is more than double the size the second largest Zionist organisation in Australia
  • Formed a coalition with Masorti in response to Hatikvah being formed and seeking registrations
  • Discussion on process of assigning delegates
  • We went from 4/13 to 7/13 delegates in our block due to Helen & Steve’s good work negotiating and aligning with other orgs
  • Note from Sefi that ZFA did nothing to help during the crisis

7. Treasurer’s report

Thanks to Janet Henrie for her work on the financials

Shardey moves that the Treasurer’s Report be received and the Financial Statement be approved. T. Leverton seconds. Reports are passed.

Tony moves Debra Arnold CPA be appointed as auditor & Janet Henrie as financial assessor, Sue seconds. Motion passed.

8. Membership report

2676 Members at June 2020

9. Netzer report from Lior

  • Moved camps online in Winter
  • Will hope to have some sort of in-person activities to continue providing Zionist education to youth
  • Netzer Appeal was immense success, enabled by support of ARZA
  • Lior thanks everyone in the meeting who made donations or reached out on Netzer’s behalf
  • Community engagement – Sprout, Working to reestablish Tamar in Australia
  • Lior to remain on board as well as 2 Netzer reps & Sefi
  • Pleased to continue to represent young people in our community
  • Unable to travel to Israel, unable to bring new Shaliach to Australia
  • Helen thanks to Netzer, shoutout to Lior’s moustache

10. Other business

H. Shardey moves Norman Schweiss be reappointed as our honorary solicitor, P. Dorey seconds, motion passed.

Cassie’s nomination is accepted

With Phillip’s retirement we do not have a VP, constitutionally we should have one from NSW to replace him. Will work with UPJ to find someone suitable to co-opt.

Helen thanks Sue for accepting Vic VP position, discussing future ARZA programming

Steve congratulates Helen.

Incoming board 

President: Helen Shardey
Immediate Past President: Steve Denenberg
Vice President: Sue Silberberg
Hon. Treasurer: Tony Leverton
Hon. Secretary: Alex Knopoff
General members: Cassie Barrett, Lior Kalisse
Ex. Officio: Mazkir and Shaliach of Netzer Australia

Meeting formally closed 6:40