RABBI Meir Shlomo Kluwgant has taken the mantle of Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia (ORA) president after the peak Orthodox rabbinical body’s elections on Sunday went uncontested.
The Melbourne rabbi who currently heads the Rabbinical Council of Victoria said it was probably the first time in ORA’s history that there was no vote for any of the positions.
Serving new terms are Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, immediate past president, Sydney’s Rabbi Yehoram Ulman as senior vice-president, and Rabbi Yaakov Glasman and Rabbi Paul Lewin as co-vice-presidents, with Rabbi Chaim Ingram continuing as ORA secretary and Rabbi Ian Goodhardt as treasurer.
Outgoing president Rabbi Gutnick described his successor as “full of drive and enthusiasm … well placed to lead the organisation into the future. His enormous success in previously leading the Rabbinical Council of Victoria augurs well for future success”.
Rabbi Kluwgant said he was “both honoured and humbled to have been nominated and elected to this position”. He told The AJN that one of his main goals will be “to unify the voice of the rabbinate … over 118 ministers are members of ORA across Australasia. I think my role is to present a united voice of the rabbinate, improve its profile and understanding of what ORA is all about and to present its voice out there to the Jewish community and the broader community.”
He is keen to see the rabbis of ORA becoming more engaged in multifaith activities, “to speak to other faiths and find matters of common interest so we can speak on universal issues of ethics and morality”.
ORA will make it a priority for all shuls served by its rabbis to have an accredited child protection policy in place, he said.
In conjunction with the elections, ORA held a two-day conference, hearing addresses from Dr Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation, discussing child protection policies in synagogues, from barrister Ian Neil on the interface between secular and Jewish law, and other speakers.
The conference passed several resolutions, including one to work with state and national bodies on fully accredited child protection policies in all Australasian Orthodox synagogues.
ORA also resolved to facilitate discussion between the Melbourne and Sydney Beth Dins to formulate an Australasian halachic policy on organ donation.
A resolution to work towards formation of an association of recognised Australasian kashrut agencies was also passed, as was a resolution on working with the Melbourne and Sydney Beth Dins to develop a centralised system of halachic marriage authorisation and the certification of Jewish status.
Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant.