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Press Release – 5 November 2009

2009 ZCV Annual Assembly brings together the past, present and future of Melbourne’s Zionist community

Last night guests, delegates from 51 affiliated organisations and interested observers of the Zionist Council of Victoria gathered for the 71st Annual Assembly to hear keynote speaker the Hon. Wayne Swan, Federal Treasurer and honour community icon Mr Saul Same with the prestigious Jerusalem Prize.

ZCV President Dr Danny Lamm, in his seventh year at the helm of the state roof body said “We have seen an ongoing, bi-partisan commitment from the most senior of Australian and Israeli politicians to our Zionist community. From Kevin Rudd in 2002; Tony Abbott in 2003; Alexander Downer in 2004; to Knesset Speaker Ruvi Rivlin in 2005; Dr Brendan Nelson in 2007; Robert McClelland last year and Wayne Swan last night, we are extremely proud of these strong and ever-developing relationships.”

“This history of support is indicative of the high regard in which the Zionist Council of Victoria is held in circles much wider than the Jewish community” Dr Lamm noted.

Guest speaker Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem spoke of the insidious and evil challenges facing Israel right now from the United Nations Human Rights Council’s infamous Goldstone report to the ever-intensifying Iranian threat.

The Ambassador pointed out that these campaigns to discredit and dehumanise Israel continue to be battled in the international media as Israel celebrates the recent great achievement of Professor Ada Yonath receiving the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Professor Yonath will be the first Israeli woman and the ninth Israeli in histroy to join the celebrated Nobel community next month in Stockholm, Sweden, he said.

When Ambassador Rotem spoke of Israeli airforce pilot Asaf Ramon z”l, killed in an accident 2 months ago while flying an F16-A during a routine training flight, he was moved to tears by the memory and loss of these 2 generations of Israeli achievers; so too was the audience of 350 people. As the son of Ilan Ramon z”l, Israel’s first astronaut, Asaf was destined for greatness and had begun to fulfill his historic destiny. Ambassador Rotem’s family shared a personal relationship with the Ramon family and his own son Asaf was just one year below Asaf Ramon z”l, at the same school in Ramat Gan.

The packed Beth Weizmann audience was then treated to a personal speech from keynote speaker Federal Treasurer the Hon Wayne Swan MP as he paid tribute to Jerusalem Prize recipient Saul Same AM. Calling Mr Same “my friend” the Treasurer recounted their meeting almost 2 decades ago and their developing friendship ever since, together with Mr Same’s late wife Lucy, z”l.

Treasurer Swan recognized Saul Same’s great achievements in business, philanthropy, political support and advice, but said it was his personal relationships that characterise the “great Australian”.

In accepting the Jerusalem Prize, the 91 years young Mr Same said he was humbled and had been looking around the room at who was receiving all these accolades because he couldn’t believe it was he who was being honored. He recalled that when approached regarding his nomination while in Israel some months ago by Dr Danny Lamm and ZCV Vice President Ron Finkel; his first thought was to tell Lucy, his late wife, partner of 65 years and his greatest love and supporter.

He thanked his many friends and colleagues in the Jewish and wider community for making his decades-long extensive contributions to the Jewish and Zionist communities so rewarding.

Several other special presentations were also made. Aliyah Mezuzot were presented to 13 Victorian Olim scheduled to make Aliyah in the coming months. The ages and affiliations of the Olim reflected the full spectrum of Melbourne’s Zionist community and included 17 year old student Lior Hadar, bogrim from all the Zionist youth movements and older members of the community fulfilling a life-long dream of living in Israel.  Oren Sella, Aliyah Shaliach for Australia and New Zealand particularly noted his great pride at the growing statistics of Australian Olim, consistently dominated by Olim from Victoria.

Community volunteer awards were presented from the Zionist Council to Glynis Lipson, for her outstanding volunteerism beyond her position as Co-President and Executive Director of Magen David Adom Victoria, and from the Makor Jewish Community Library to Myra Fisher for her exceptional fundraising work.

Following the event Dr Danny Lamm said “The massive attendance of 350 people presents such a rich snap shot of Zionist activity and community members connected to the Council. It is also entirely consistent with the spectacular results of the Gen08 survey that indicated well over 80% of Australians are Zionists”.

 For more information contact:
Ginette Searle – Executive Director, Zionist Council of Victoria 9272 5544
Elly Shalev – Public Affairs Director, Zionist Council of Victoria 9272 5519
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