INCOMING president of the Zionist Council of NSW Rodney Naumburger could not be a “more worthy successor”, said the organisation’s immediate past president, Richard Balkin.
Having been both vice-president and treasurer of the ZCNSW, Naumburger took on the top position at the organisation’s AGM last week when Balkin stepped down from 10 years in the role.
One of the focuses of Naumburger’s presidency will be bringing “the best of Israel to the NSW Jewish community” to deal with both external and internal detractors of the state.
“I hope to further illuminate the extraordinary successes that Israel has achieved in all facets of human endeavour including; humanitarian, science, technology, social,” said Naumburger.
“Our challenge is to educate, refocus and contextualise the everyday reality that faces Israel and its citizens to strengthen and maintain our bonds with them.”
Balkin said his presidency has been “extremely rewarding and it has been my privilege to serve the NSW community in advancing the Zionist cause”.
“I could not be leaving the Zionist Council in better hands than in those of president Rodney Naumburger, vice-presidents Rebecca Lacey-Ehrlich and Orli Zahava and Teneille Murray, our executive director,” he added.
Pointing to key successes during his term, Balkin highlighted the appointment of a director of Israel affairs, Arsen Ostrovsky, advocacy programs in schools, the Yesh Israel program for young adults, the Yom Hazikaron ceremony and the Yom Ha’atzmaut Gala Dinner, the latter of which “has become a fixture in the communal calendar over the past nine years and has enabled us to raise substantial funds which have made many of our programs possible”.
Commending Balkin’s contribution, Naumburger said the former president has “dedicated a huge amount of time to revitalising the council … He has introduced many new initiatives to help showcase the best of Israel to our community and specifically the youth”.
Over the course of his tenure, Balkin said the primary challenge has been a financial one. “At the beginning of my presidency, the ZCNSW received $72,000 for its operating budget from the funds allocated by the Jewish Agency for Israel to Australia to fund Zionist activity. Today the ZCNSW receives only $35,000 out of the hundreds of thousands of dollars allocated to Australia annually.”
He denounced the situation as “absurd”, and stated it “cannot be allowed to continue if the Zionist Council is still to ensure that NSW remains the active and vibrant community it is today”.