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Australian Jewry Umbrella Elects First Female President

Diane Shteinman has been elected president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the umbrella organization representing the Australian Jewish community.

Shteinman succeeds Isi Leibler, who completed the maximum three-year term. Leibler now serves as a co-chairman of the governing board of the World Jewish Congress.

Shteinman, the first woman to be elected president in the council’s 51-year term. Leibler now serves as a co-chairman of the governing board of the World Jewish Congress.

The annual meeting at which Shteinman was elected began on a somber note with a eulogy to slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that was delivered by Ambassador Shmuel Moyal, who began his post in Australia in October.

The delegates at the meeting were unanimous in their concern over the polarization in Israel, and within Judaism, that has surfaced in the wake of the Nov. 4 assassination.

Another theme expressed during the meeting was the danger of Australia taking the “American path” and losing large numbers of the community to assimilation and intermarriage.

A report by Leibler set the scene for an intense debate on the Israel-Diaspora relationship and on the role of Jewish education in Australia and in Israel.

Shteinman, in her acceptance speech, said the council “must now concentrate” on “Jewish education for all our children, Jewish identity and continuity, and combating assimilation and intermarriage.”

She also stressed the organization’s responsibilities in the areas of anti- defamation, public relations and advocacy to government on matters of Jewish interest.”

Other issues that were reported on and debated at the meeting included: relations between the Jewish community and Christians and Muslims; the persistence of anti-Semitism; and the depiction of Jews in the mainstream media.