PRIME Minister Scott Morrison cited the importance of community and the writings of the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks in a speech at UIA NSW’s major donors event on Thursday night.
Morrison recalled how his father, who was a “big believer in community”, would tell him, “‘If you want to understand community, understand the Jewish community’, which he loved passionately and dearly.
“When President Rivlin visited Australia, he described Australia’s Jewish community as the ‘living bridge’ between our two countries and that is indeed what you are,” the Prime Minister said.
“Though numbering only about one per cent of our population, Jewish Australians have made a remarkable contribution to our national life and our story. You have sought to be a light unto the nations, performing the mitzvot or good deeds according to the Law of Moses.
“I honour you as Australians, and as people of a rich heritage, a great culture and a tremendous faith.”
Morrison said he been “deeply influenced” by the teachings of Lord Sacks.
“His books have given me a more textured understanding of Judaism, my own Christian faith and what unites us all as human beings,” he said.
“Seeing the inherent dignity of all human beings is the foundation of morality. It makes us more capable of love and compassion, of selflessness and forgiveness.
“Those of Jewish faith understand this. As Rabbi Sacks said, ‘The purpose of Judaism is to honour the image of God in other people’.”
Morality is “the foundation of true community”, the Prime Minister added.
“The place where we are valued; where we are unique; where we respect one another and contribute to and share one another’s lives; where we pledge faithfulness to do together what we cannot achieve alone – Sacks describes this as the covenant of community,” he said.
“The determination to step up and play a role and to contribute as you are indeed doing this evening as part of this amazing organisation. That is the moral responsibility and covenant, I would argue, of citizenship. Not to think we can leave it to someone else.”
#WATCH: You matter, community matters.– my speech to the United Israel Appeal tonight.
Posted by Scott Morrison (ScoMo) on Thursday, April 29, 2021
Taking aim at identity politics, Morrison said, “When we reduce ourselves to a collection of attributes, or divide ourselves, even worse, on this basis, we can lose sight of who we actually are as individual human beings.
“Throughout history, we’ve seen what happens when people are defined solely by the group they belong to, or an attribute they have, or an identity they possess. The Jewish community understands that better than any in the world.”
The Prime Minister also praised Holocaust survivor and author Eddie Jaku, whose book he received from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
“Eddie’s story is harrowing but it’s also hopeful. Of life in the Nazi concentration camps. And of course losing his family. But never losing his faith in humanity. Finding friendship even amongst the absolute ruins.
“And we stand by with like-minded friends, such as the Jewish people and the State of Israel, who is a great friend to Australia and we are a true friend of Israel. A country that is sovereign, that is independent and free. A modern state, born anew in an ancient homeland.”
On Frydenberg, Morrison acknowledged the work the Treasurer has been doing to fund Holocaust museums around the country.
“That is important but I’ll tell you what’s more important – that means across the whole country now, Holocaust education will now be taught across the curriculum.”
He also paid tribute to the late Isi Leibler, calling him “a great blessing to this country”.