Press Release – 16 December 2008

Zionist Council congratulates Israeli Centre President on receiving Victorian Multicultural Award

The Zionist Council of Victoria has congratulated Menachem Khoen, President of the HaMerkaz Ha’Israeli (Israeli Centre) on receiving a Meritorious Service to the Community award for his outstanding voluntary contribution to the Jewish and Israeli community of Victoria at Government House yesterday.

The award recognises the outstanding achievements of an individual who has had a minimum of 10 years voluntary service at a governance level.

Mr Khoen was born in Israel and migrated to Melbourne in 1971. Since his arrival in Melbourne, he has been instrumental in developing a community organisation for Israeli immigrants. Early on, he identified that this segment of the community struggles with a range of issues which are distinct from those of the Australian Jewish community. Issues of integration into both the Jewish community and the broader Victorian community had to be balanced with the need to maintain cultural and linguistic identity.

Mr Khoen was the initiator and founder of Hamerkaz Ha’Israeli in 1995 – established in order to unify the Israeli community and provide a wide range of services, including opportunities for mutual support and assistance. The Centre is a non-profit, democratic, pluralistic, incorporated association with no political affiliation. Its activities run in the Hebrew language, enabling ready access to information.

Since the establishment of the Israeli Centre, Mr Khoen has continuously undertaken leadership roles within the organisation as either President or Chairman. He has given his unstinting time and effort over the 13 years the organisation has been in operation. Furthermore, he has personally funded the administration of the Israel Centre, donating the salary of a full time director.

Mr Khoen has also been involved as an Executive member of the Zionist Council of Victoria since the late 1970s, holding positions including Chairman of Hebrew Culture and Chairman of Trade and Investment.

Dr Danny Lamm, ZCV President commented on the positive relationship the roof body and the Israeli Centre have cultivated over many years, “I was very proud that our nomination of Menachem for this prestigious award was successful. One of Menachem’s priorities has always been to build bridges between the Israeli community and the Melbourne Jewish community. He ably and enthusiastically represents the Israeli community on the Zionist Council Executive, ensuring that their views, concerns and needs are reflected in the roof body’s policy and planning activity” he said.

Significantly, Mr Khoen initiated the first Israel Memorial Day commemoration in Melbourne. From humble beginnings as a program conducted only in Hebrew, this program, with Mr Khoen’s assistance, has been embraced by the Zionist Council of Victoria who now coordinate and produce it in conjunction with the Israel Centre and 10 other Jewish community organisations. In 2008, over 1200 people attended a most dignified and emotional commemoration at Monash University’s Robert Blackwood Hall, and conducted in both Hebrew and English.

In addition to his activities with the Israeli community and the Israel Centre, Mr Khoen has also been an active volunteer and leader of long standing for Kosher Meals on Wheels, having undertaken the role of president for the past 16 years.

Mr Khoen has long been a proponent and active advocate of Israeli culture in Melbourne. He has contributed to both the Israeli community and the Jewish community for decades with dedication and passion.  He is a well-deserving and most appropriate candidate for an award which acknowledges and recognizes exemplary commitment in the service of his community.

For more information on the awards, please visit the website of the Victorian Multicultural Commission http://www.multicultural.vic.gov.au/ or call 9208 3184.

For more information contact:
ZCV President, Dr Danny Lamm 9272 5544, 0408 408 929
ZCV Director of Public Affairs, Elly Shalev 9272 5519, 0400 313 197
The Zionist Council of Victoria leads and encourages Jewish and Zionist activity and expression within Victoria, to represent the Jewish community, to promote and communicate Israel’s interests within the broader Victorian community and to promote Victoria’s relationship with Israel. For more information, visit the Zionist Council of Victoria website www.zionismvictoria.org.au