JEWISH communal politics is much tougher than state politics, former NSW treasurer and new Australian Friends of Magen David Adom (MDA) NSW CEO Eric Roozendaal quipped to The AJN this week.
The former MP, who sat in the Legislative Council from 2004 to 2013 and served as treasurer between September 2008 and March 2011, said he was excited to take on the new challenge.
He said the role came along at the right time.
“I’ve done a lot of different things in my career, obviously you know [I had] a long political career, I just had five years in commercial development, and I thought I wanted to do something that was a bit more about giving back to the community,” he said.
“People mentioned to me that MDA was looking for someone and I thought that might be something I’d be interested in.”
Roozendaal said the organisation had grown dramatically over the last few years “and it’s my intention to continue to encourage that growth and take it to the next level”.
“There’s so many different worthy causes that the Jewish community contributes to, both within the community and outside the community. So it is a very competitive area to seek out those fundraising dollars,” he said.
“But I think the MDA cause is just so good, so strong, so respected – that everybody wants to support MDA, [so it’s] just making sure that they have that opportunity to contribute.” He added, “In Israel, MDA treats everybody no matter their race or religion, and I think that’s a great message.”
Being a smaller communal fundraising organisation, he said MDA needs to rely more on sponsors, volunteers and communal goodwill.
Roozendaal, who is also the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies public affairs chair, is optimistic about MDA’s potential.
“I used to do a lot of fundraising back in the day for the Labor Party, so it’s not that different for me to do this, so I’ve got a few ideas – it’s a good organisation and we’ll do a lot with it,” he said.
“Give me 12 months and I think you’ll see some changes in our profile and the way we run things.”
He also encouraged members of the community to give their support.
“MDA depends on donations from individuals around the world and from Israel, it receives very little government funding at all,” he said.
“It plays a vital role in Israel and I think it’s absolutely critical that Jewish communities around the world show support for MDA.”