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Time to make a difference: Australia’s Jewish social justice summit

Michael Visontay
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Published: 15 July 2019

Last updated: 4 March 2024

SOME OF AUSTRALIA’S KEENEST minds and most influential advocates in the social justice sector will come together in Sydney this month for a social justice summit exploring everything from climate change, sustainability, to refugees and ethical investing.

Now in its second year, the summit - Beyond The Tribe – is a joint initiative of Jewish social justice organisation Stand Up, The Jewish Independent, the Shalom Institute and the Emanuel Synagogue.

As the name suggests, the summit draws together bright lights in the field of social justice and innovation from within the Australian Jewish community and further afield. Its focus is on how Jewish people are making an impact in the wider community.

The world-class line-up includes Greenpeace Australia CEO David Ritter, Oz Harvest’s Ronni Kahn, Dr Kerryn Phelps, entrepreneur Evan Thornley and LeapFrog Investments’ Dr Andy Kuper.

David Ritter’s talk is titled “Blazing a Path: The future of the Environment” - about the challenges we face in addressing the march of climate change, and what steps we can take as a community, as well as broader level, to fight it.

“Australia is crying out for leadership,” Ritter told The Jewish Independent. On the great challenges of our age - the climate and extinctions emergency, the new technologies and the scourge of rising inequality - we have just re-elected a federal government that is offering nothing.

“Gatherings of this kind are critical to igniting the change we so desperately need.”

Ronni Khan, founder of food rescue organisation OzHarvest, will speak about the “War on Waste - a personal reflection on how to create a world where food is valued, not wasted”.

Dr Kerryn Phelps, who spearheaded the adoption of the Medevac Bill that provided timely and life-saving medical care to people in offshore detention on Manus Island and Nauru, will talk about the making of the bill and its passage into legislation.

Evan Thornley will explore whether we do the things we do for the right reasons, and if not, does that impact the results of our activities.

The summit will include workshops, panel discussions and several addresses to encourage the exploration of new ideas and inspire attendees in their own spheres.
Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the enormity of the task of shaping the world and it leads to inaction. All of our speakers remind us that one person can make a big difference.

Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio, from Sydney’s Emanuel Synagogue, one of the organisers of the Summit, says: “We are taught that the world was created for each of our sakes and every one of us has a responsibility to shape the world. But sometimes we are overwhelmed by the enormity of the task and it leads to inaction. All of our speakers remind us that one person can make a big difference.”

Mitch Burnie, Young Adult Program manager at Shalom, says: “Historically Jews have been at the forefront of social action in the countries they are from, it comes from our text and our culture. The Social Justice Summit is an amazing entry point to mobilise our community and offer easy access into this world and to place ourselves in the wider community as we have done for so long.”

Hilton Immerman, who will speak on a panel about “Successful Jewish-Aboriginal Partnerships”, says: “Our Jewish sources are filled with injunctions to care for the disposed – for the poor, the orphan, widow, stranger – and to engage in acts of loving kindness. The Summit is a fitting reminder of the importance of the Jewish mission.  It promises to serve as a much-needed call to action.”

Judy Friedlander, founder of grassroots sustainability organisation Foodfaith: Planting Seeds: “There is an important question around 'being a light' to your own community and others that share our space. I believe that thinking of 'our space' as our common ground - our earth and planet - provides some answers for our age.”

Beyond the Tribe will be held on July 28 at Bondi Pavilion in Sydney

More information, the full program and tickets


About the author

Michael Visontay

Michael Visontay is the Commissioning Editor of TJI. He has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 30 years. Michael is the author of several books, including Who Gave You Permission?, co-authored with child sexual abuse advocate Manny Waks, and Welcome to Wanderland: Western Sydney Wanderers and the Pride of the West.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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