IT was noteworthy to witness the humility with which siblings Susan and Peter Davis responded when The AJN inquired about their Australia Day honours. Both Professor Susan Davis, who has been recognised as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her services to women’s health through endocrinology and Peter Davis, who received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his service to the Jewish community, were quick to include their late parents in their circle of honour.
They concurred that their parents had set an example in their own day by working tirelessly on a raft of secular and non-secular communal causes. We could describe them as members of “the greatest generation”, that cohort whose fate it was to inhabit the middle decades of the 20th century, to see depression, war and the Holocaust, and then to rebuild.
A diverse group of Jewish recipients have been recognised in this year’s Australia Day Honours …
But it was also a characteristic of postwar Jews in Australia never to forget community, and the principle that we are only as great as the service we render to others. Their fortitude set a precedent for younger generations, while their reverence for education provided their daughters and sons with the tools.
Perhaps that is a reason why the proportion of Jewish honourees greatly outpaces our demographics. In this year’s Australia Day Honours, of the 571 Order of Australia recipients, 29 – almost six per cent — are Jewish, while Jews make up only around 0.4 per cent of Australia’s population.
As usual on Australia Day and on the Queen’s Birthday, Jewish recipients were high achievers in a wide array of fields. Our highest is Rabbi Dr John Levi, recognised as a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for his groundbreaking promotion of interfaith relations and his visionary work in developing Progressive Judaism.
Professor Andrew Markus, a driving force behind the landmark Gen08 and Gen17 Jewish community surveys, has been recognised as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), and Professor Alan Cass has received an AO for his services to medicine, particularly the fight against kidney disease in Indigenous communities.
Sydneysider Peter Wise and Melbourne’s Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick have each received the honour of Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the Jewish community in various roles. We extend a hearty mazal tov to all the recipients.