ONE of the largest ever contingents of young people in the history of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) are vying to be deputies.
Almost a quarter of the 96 members of the community up for election for the next two years are under the age of 30.
“Nowhere else would one find such a wide selection of community members – from those running for election for the first time in their 20s to community stalwarts hoping to be re-elected to the position they have held for years or even decades,” JBOD president Lesli Berger said.
Making up the diverse pool are 56 male and 40 female candidates.
For Julia Sussman, 23, having greater representation from the younger, female demographic is paramount.
She reflected that as a young woman, it can be “incredibly challenging to walk into a room and make yourself heard”.
The Youth HEAR co-founder strongly believes that the “only way to combat hate is by partnering with non-Jewish groups, educating others about the power of hate, [and] instilling people with skills to stand up and say that is not okay”.
She added the focus must be on stopping hate and bias. “In the age of technology, a lot of that concerns young adults, and we need young adults to lead the community.”
Gabi Stricker-Phelps, 21, is running “because I very much value our community”.
“Central to any good governance of an organisation is renewal. There’s so much talent in the Jewish community, particularly from upcoming younger generations that would be so well utilised within the board,” she said.
“It’s wonderful and I think it’s also testament to the success of programs like the Jeremy Spinak Young Leaders Program, which is obviously in honour of another incredible young leader who brought so much zest and refreshed ideas within the board.”
Businessman Eitan Neishlos, aged 41, told The AJN that the biggest challenges facing the community are the “safety of the Jewish community, the fight against antisemitism, and anti-Zionism”.
He also said it is “opportune for our generation to focus on Jewish education and continuity”.
Israeli-born, South African-raised Neishlos sits on the board of Courage to Care, acts as an adviser to JNFuture and the Liberal Friends of Israel.
“I feel proud of what the Australian Jewish community has achieved and I want to be part of its strength and vibrancy,” he said.
Businesswoman and mother Nathalie Samia, 43, emphasised her keen interest “in the safety and wellbeing of the Jewish community and the positive impact it can have on the broader community”.
“It’s such a diverse community … and I think it’s good to have all the different voices represented,” mused Samia, who has been a deputy before.
“It infuses a new level of energy, coupled with the experience of the people who have been there for a while.”
Israeli-born Ed Feiner lauded the importance of JBOD in representing the community.
“It’s really important from my point of view just to make sure I can contribute as much as I can,” the 40-year-old financial controller told The AJN.
“It’s really important for the community to have a mix of opinion.”
Voting closes on July 10 with results to be announced during the JBOD plenum on Tuesday, July 21.
The AJN does not endorse any deputy candidates.