The past few weeks has been an exciting, if hectic, time for ARZA Australia, culminating in the election of a new President and Executive Committee at the AGM held in Adelaide on November 9.  Led by former Victorian Parliamentarian, Helen Shardey, the new Committee offers a wonderful combination of experience and youth that is sure to serve the organization well as it prepares for the possibility of elections ahead of the 38th World Zionist Congress (WZC), to be held in Jerusalem in October 2020.

Just days before the AGM the 3 person delegation returned from a tumultuous, but highly successful, meeting of the Executive of the World Zionist Organisation in Beersheva, Israel. At these meetings, as part of the largest faction, we were able to successfully pass motions, including reinforcing the centrality of the Declaration of Independence to all Zionist activities, and preventing a series of anti-democratic and divisive resolutions put forward by some extreme right-wing groups.

The meetings were a salutary reminder of how important it is for our global organization, ARZENU, to remain strong and able to influence the Parliament of the Jewish People, the World Zionist Congress.

As the delegation returned we welcomed a member of the Board of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) , Andrew Keene, with special responsibility for Youth engagement.  Andrew made an outstanding presentation to the leaders of the UPJ congregations, again explaining the importance of the WZC and of ARZENU being a strong presence there.

This was followed by the Annual General Meeting of the UPJ where retiring President, Roger Mendelson was succeeded by co-Presidents David Knoll and Brian Samuel.  Immediately following this at the AGM of ARZA Australia and having completed a full term as President, Steve Denenberg welcomed incoming President, Helen Shardey and her new Executive committee.

Incoming ARZA President, Helen Shardey

The incoming Committee comprises Helen as President, Vice-Presidents Sue Silverberg (Victoria) and Philip Levy (NSW); Honorary Treasurer Tony Leverton (Queensland); Honorary Secretary, Alex Knopoff (South Australia); and Committee members Rabbi Fred Morgan and Cassie Barrett (Victoria).  Ex oficio members include the Chair of the Moetzah, Rabbi David Kunin (Japan); and the Mazkir and Shlichim of Netzer Australia.

On accepting the role of President, Helen made a presentation of a Havdallah set to Steve and paid tribute to his contribution to the organisation over many years and his generous assistance in preparing her for this important role.  She also congratulated and thanked the Committee and called for all UPJ congregations to work with ARZA to ensure our continued role as a force for good in Israel, and in Australia.

Helen Shardey is also taking on the role of Vice-president of the Union for Progressive Judaism. Her dual roles as President of The Australian Reform Zionist Association and Vice-president of the Union for Progressive Judaism “should serve to bring the two roof bodies of the Progressive Movement in Australia together in support of our Progressive congregations and Israel” said Helen.