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Jewish Australians gather for symposium

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Australia’s prime minister opened a symposium on the country’s future with 50 of the Jewish community’s leading thinkers.

Kevin Rudd and several ministers from the ruling Labor Party joined the four-hour debate Monday at the 2020 Summit Jewish Community Symposium in Sydney.

The Jewish symposium was Rudd’s attempt to appease critics in the Jewish community who were angered when he announced the government’s 2020 Summit of 1,000 of the nation’s “best and brightest” would be held April 19-20, which clashes with Passover. Several high-profile Jews had been invited to the Canberra event.

Louise Adler, the chief executive of Melbourne University Publishing who has irked Jewish community officials by publishing several anti-Israel books, chided the separate Jewish symposium as an “insular response.”

“This is not a gathering for the sake of having a gathering,” Rudd said at the opening of the symposium.

“What I want to do is harness the ideas here today. Our intention by year’s end is to respond to each and every one of them.”

The 50 participants – including three rabbis – broke off into smaller groups to assess critical areas of Australia’s future, including corporate governance, indigenous affairs, the arts and the economy.

Robert Goot, the president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, helped broker the Jewish symposium after the Passover clash became apparent.

“It was a very constructive and successful dialogue between members of the Jewish community and the government on the challenges facing Australia,” he said.

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