IN front of a room filled with Jewish communal representatives, politicians and multicultural leaders – many whose friendship he had cultivated – outgoing NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) CEO Vic Alhadeff was honoured with a Premier’s Award at Monday evening’s Yom Ha’atzmaut cocktail reception.
In what was the communal stalwart’s final function in the role he has held for more than 16 years, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was her “prerogative and great pleasure” to present him with the award.
“His advocacy, vigilance and persistence across all these years has been truly outstanding. As a colleague and friend of long standing I can also attest to his contribution to the harmonious multicultural society we enjoy in NSW,” she said.
“His strength in establishing interfaith ties and his capacity to deal with very difficult and sensitive issues has endeared him to the broader community.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has tonight presented outgoing NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff with the…
Alhadeff, who said he was “shocked” to receive the accolade, thanked Berejiklian for her “outstanding support and friendship” and extended his gratitude to all present, “ministers, shadow ministers, people from all walks of life and communities”.
“As a Jewish community we are truly blessed to be able to invite to a room such an amazing group of friends,” he said.
Expressing that it had been “an honour and a privilege” to have represented JBOD, he added, “Everything that I’ve done has been part of a team,” paying tribute to the boards of directors, presidents and staff he had worked with.
With the main theme of the evening being a celebration of 73 years since Israel’s founding, Berejiklian noted the sacrifices made on the Jewish State’s journey to independence, and the threats and challenges it has faced since.
“Today Israel takes its place among the family of nations – democratic, modern, progressive,” she said.
“As for science and technology, Israel is indisputably one of the world’s leaders in these spheres, and NSW looks forward to building on our bilateral relationship in areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, medical research and fintech.
Celebrating the 73rd anniversary of Israel's Independence Day. A special and such well deserved award from special guest Premier @GladysB goes to outgoing @NSWJBD CEO @VicAlhadeff. We are so thankful for his strong and steady leadership Vic! @JonathanPeled pic.twitter.com/eFoJlg5Lts
— Gabrielle Upton MP (@gabrielleupton) April 26, 2021
“While Israel continues to thrive as a nation we cannot deny that the threats to safety and security are ongoing. While tonight is an evening of celebration, it must also be an evening to renew our vigilance against antisemitism and injustice.”
Lamenting the cancellation of her April 2020 trade mission to Israel due to COVID-19, the Premier pledged to reinstate it “as soon as international travel becomes possible”.
Speaking specially of NSW Jewry, she added, “You exemplify outstanding citizenship in the contribution you’ve made to the success and strength of our great state and our great nation, and equally you support and contribute to the integrity of the State of Israel.”
Thanking Berejiklian for “your heartfelt words and for being such a staunch and unwavering friend of the State of Israel”, Zionist Council of NSW president Rodney Naumburger said, “Aussies know how to stand up for their mates … may this friendship only continue to go from strength to strength.”
Speaking at his first official function in Australia, Israeli embassy charge d’affaires, ambassador Jonathan Peled said, “Last year in lockdown in Jerusalem I would never have imagined that I would be Down Under a year later.
“What strikes me after a few weeks here is how warm and friendly and easygoing you are,” he said.
“One thing that stands above all is the sense of kinship and true friendship between Australia and Israel, and the special bond between our two peoples.”
— Vic Alhadeff (@VicAlhadeff) April 27, 2021
Tracing that bond back to the Anzacs and the Charge of Beersheba, he said it was an honour to participate in an Anzac Day service at the Australian War Memorial the previous day.
“Australia has earned our great admiration for this legacy as well as for its fervent and continued support of Israel over the years. There is much to celebrate and expand on [in] this relationship between our two countries, both at the federal and the state level,” he said.
“With the state of NSW we have a strong partnership and of course an important and vibrant Jewish community. We look forward to increasing our ties with NSW on all levels and especially look forward to the upcoming visit of you, Premier, hopefully in the coming months.”