New Organization Founded to Represent New Zealand Jewry

A new organization authorized to represent the New Zealand Jewish community has been established in Wellington at a national conference attended by Jewish leaders from all the centers of Jewish population. The new umbrella group is to be known as the New Zealand Jewish Council.

New Zealand’s Jewish community numbers 3,500 and is divided mostly between the cities of Auckland and Wellington, with smaller communities in key provincial centers. In recent years the community has faced serious problems as a result of intermarriage, emigration to Australia, and a growing anti-Israel shift in government policies among some opinion making groups.

Relative to its small numbers, New Zealand Jewry has a high rate of aliya. At the same time, there has been a steady growth in recent years of newcomers from the Soviet Union.

The national conference elected Wellington communal personality Wally Minsch as the first chairman of the Council. Ernest Markham from Auckland and Syd Goldsmith from Christchurch were elected vice chairmen. The president of the Zionist Federation, Blanche Weinstein, and the president of the United Synagogues of New Zealand, Gerald Shapiro, were appointed ex-officio to the national executive.

Speakers at the conference included the Israeli Ambassador Yaacov Morris, and from Melbourne, Australia, Isi Leibler, chairman of the Asia branch of the World Jewish Congress Internal Advisory Committee. In this capacity, Leibler has been working with the New Zealand leadership in the formation of the new Council, and welcomed it as an affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.

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