JULIAN Leeser could become the first Jewish member of the House of Representatives from NSW for the Liberal Party if elected later this year.
Leeser, who was until recently chair of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies’ (JBOD) community relations committee, told The AJN this week he is “honoured and humbled”, after he was selected to succeed Philip Ruddock in the federal seat of Berowra.
“I’m particularly conscious of following in the footsteps of Philip Ruddock, who’s been a great supporter of multiculturalism, a great servant of our community, and of our party and of the country,” he said.
“I’m also conscious that I’m only the fourth Liberal to be chosen to represent our party in the seat of Berowra.”
Leeser, who has been director of government policy and strategy at Australian Catholic University since 2012 and is a former executive director of the Menzies Research Centre, has a long history of involvement in the Jewish community.
In addition to his roles on the executive of JBOD and as a councillor of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), Leeser is on the board of Parramatta Synagogue, was one of the key organisers of the 50th anniversary commemoration of Nostra Aetate at The Great Synagogue last year, and was a Hebrew and religion teacher at Emanuel Synagogue cheder.
ECAJ president Robert Goot said, “It is a testament to the high regard in which Julian is held that he won 97 of the 114 votes of the pre-selectors. We have no doubt that he will be an excellent candidate who will bring erudition, compassion and a formidable intellect to public life.”
Goot also acknowledged the retirement of Ruddock, who has been “a longstanding and sincere friend of the Australian Jewish community and of the ECAJ”.
JBOD president Jeremy Spinak commented: “We are extremely pleased for Julian. He has been an outstanding member of the Board of Deputies who has given much of his time and energy to our community. No matter which party one supports, it’s always great to see someone of calibre choosing a life of public service through politics.”