Inaugural conference for Israelis in Oz
MELBOURNE — More than 30 leaders of the Israeli communities from across Australia converged in the Beth Weizmann Community Centre on Sunday, 19 May, for the inaugural “Israelis in Australia” conference. It is estimated that more than 16,000 Israelis live in Australia, and representatives from communities from Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast brought to the table their perspectives on issues, challenges and opportunities facing the diverse communities.
The conference was organised by the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) and the Association for Israelis in Australia (AIA). Its aims were to develop strategies to connect Israelis living in Australia with each other, with their local Jewish communities, with other Israeli communities across the world and, of course, with Israel.
We were privileged to welcome to the conference three guests from Israel: Brigadier General Azriel Nevo, the chairman of the Global Task Force for Israeli Communities; Monika Lev-Cohen, Program Director of Global Israeli Communities Program from the Jewish Agency; and Gary Vitkin from the Israeli Scouts.
Nevo highlighted the priority of working with the second generation of Israeli immigrants to Australia, to strengthen their connections to Israel, to the Hebrew language and to their Jewish identity.
This conference is the beginning of what will be a concerted process to develop initiatives in the areas of:
• Education and youth (“second generation”)
• Israeli Culture
• Business and networking
ZFA President Philip Chester said:
“This conference is the first conference which specifically brought together Israeli leadership from around Australia together with the Jewish Agency and with the local community. We are delighted with the enthusiasm, contribution and candour of the participants. Of course, it is a first step, and there is much work to be done as a result of it. We are hopeful that the recommendations made will result in stronger connections and activities between the Israeli and local Jewish communities and the State of Israel.”