Bernard-Henri Levy keynotes at JCA

Dr Avril Alba and Bernard-Henri Levy. Photos: Giselle Haber

KICKING off a sold-out event with 1700 people at JCA’s annual fundraising campaign, Ginette Matalon expressed her deep gratitude for the Jewish community – “a brilliant and bright network [that] brings light into my life” – as well as the assistance package she receives, monitored and managed by JewishCare, that aids her functioning as a visually impaired woman. 

Matalon was one of seven people on Sunday night to shine a spotlight on vital areas in the community that JCA works to support.

Emphasising our responsibility to safeguard the community for future generations, JCA president Stephen Chipkin said at the Hordern Pavilion, “In a time of greed and selfishness, we are part of a very old tradition of caring for strangers, the poor and oppressed, children in need, the frail and the disabled.”

Bernard-Henri Levy (left) and Stephen Chipkin.

Helping the vulnerable further afield, social entrepreneur Andrew Kuper launched Leapfrog Investments 10 years ago – a private investment firm that invests in financial services and healthcare companies that serve low-income people predominantly in Asia and Africa.

“Today, just over 10 years later, Leapfrog companies have served 168 million people, of whom 136 million live on less than $10 per person in a household,” said Kuper.

Andrew Kuper.

Reflecting on the personal experiences and social justice principles that drove him to establish Leapfrog Investments, Kuper remarked, “Hope is realistic because of those value-driven actions, of those who came before us, and because of those values and actions we can take tonight and tomorrow.”

In conversation with senior lecturer in Holocaust studies and Jewish civilisation at the University of Sydney Dr Avril Alba, French philosopher and public intellectual, Bernard-Henri Levy, said the new narrative of antisemitism is composed of three pillars – condemning Israel as a fascist state, denying the Holocaust, and accusing Jews of claiming the crown of suffering and thereby overshadowing the distress experienced by others.

Bernard-Henri Levy.

Asked by Alba how Jewish communities should respond to such antisemitic claims, Levy emphasised the power of pedagogy – simply put, “to say the truth”. He encouraged the audience to live a life informed by Jewish values, ethics and studies; and to bind together as a strong community of proud Jews.

“The generation of my grandfather, and of my father, believed that the less we are Jews, the better we keep antisemitism at a distance,” said Levy. “Today, we believe exactly the opposite.”

As guests had their intellectual thirst quenched, they savoured the delicious tastes of Israeli street diner, Miznon.

SOPHIE DEUTSCH