Prime Minister opens his heart to Jewish community
Tonight, I want to talk about a topic that I know is very dear to you. My father was a big believer in community. He was Mayor of Waverley, he was on the Waverley Council for some 16, 17 years and he taught me a lot about the importance of community. And he learnt it all from you because my father would tell me, if you want to understand community, understand the Jewish community, which he loved passionately and dearly.
I have been deeply influenced in recent years by the writings of the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
his work has given me a more textured understanding of Judaism, my own Christian faith and what unites us all as human beings.
In his works, Rabbi Sacks wrestles with the practical complexities of our modern pluralistic world and finds, through the tenets of his faith, as he did, a pathway to the common good.
At the heart of our Judeo-Christian heritage are two words. Human dignity. Everything else flows from this. Seeing the inherent dignity of all human beings is the foundation of morality. It makes us more capable of love and compassion, of selflessness and forgiveness.
This means that because we are conscious of our own failings and vulnerabilities, we can be more accepting and understanding of the failings and vulnerabilities of others.
Seeing the dignity in others means we can see others as imperfect people striving to do their best.
And, you know, in a liberal democracy, there is no greater liberal democracy than the ones that are shared here and in Israel. Human dignity is foundational to our freedom.
So it is no surprise then that Rabbi Sacks concluded in his final work, Morality, “If you lose your own morality, you are in danger of losing your freedom.”
Freedom therefore rests on us taking personal responsibility for how we treat each other, based on our respect for, and appreciation of, human dignity.
This is not about state power. This is not about market power. This is about morality and personal responsibility. Now, morality is also then the foundation of true community.
Now together and individually we are each responsible for building and sustaining community, and we each have something unique to bring. In short, to realise true community we must first appreciate each individual human being matters. You matter. You, individually.
Throughout history, we’ve seen what happens when people are defined solely by the group they belong to, or an attribute they have, or an identity they possess. The Jewish community understands that better than any in the world.
So, my message is simple: you matter, you make the difference, you make community. And together with family and marriage and the associations of clubs and community groups, faith networks, indeed the organisations we’re here celebrating tonight, and so much more, they are the further building blocks of community on that individual, providing the stability and the sinews of society that bind us one to another.
We’re not perfect, no country is, but we do have much to be proud of. We are a liberal, free people, one of the oldest continuous democracies on the planet. We have an Indigenous heritage and a rich multicultural character, both adding a brilliance and joy to our national life and character.
You have sought to be a light unto the nations, performing the mitzvot or good deeds according to the Law of Moses.
Good citizens, good neighbours and good friends, who understand through their own faith and history and sufferings that life is not what you accumulate but what you give, what you contribute.
People like John Monash, Isaac Isaacs, Sir Zelman and Lady Cowen, Linda Dessau, Susan and Isaac Wakil, and Judy Cassab.
The amazing Sir Frank Lowy.
Isi Leibler, the late Isi Leibler, who we know passed away earlier this month, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family. He was a great blessing to this country.
My dear friends, my deputy leader and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, another great contributor, as is Julian Leeser, making his mark.
So many outstanding Jewish Australians. So many stories of giving back.
Thank you and God bless you. Shalom.