PHILANTHROPIST and businessman Jack Smorgon was presented with the Israel Goldstein Prize for Distinguished Leadership by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin last week.
The award, which has been presented annually since 1980 and is the highest accolade given by Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal each year, was given to Smorgon for his “exemplary public service, civic activism and dedication to Israel”.
Rivlin praised Smorgon for having devoted his whole life to public service, locally in the state of Victoria, nationally and globally.
“The secret heroes of this country are the people who built with never- ending devotion,” President Rivlin said.
“They started funds and raised money, and out of this great work and effort came our independence.
“Israel was always and still is a joint project of all its builders,” Rivlin declared.
Smorgon has been the president of the United Israel Appeal of Australia, president and chairman of the United Israel Appeal of Victoria, on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency and a member of the Keren Hayesod executive.
“I am humbled to be selected to receive this important award,” Smorgon said when he received the award.
Smorgon had mixed feelings when, after 12 years as UIA Victoria president and six years as UIA Australia president, he stepped down.
“I’m happy that I’ve had that kind of involvement with UIA. But it’s also a chance to work with the community and I’m sad that it’s come to an end.
“I’m not going to step down from Israel. I’m going to be just as involved or more involved in what I do there.”
Smorgon was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1998 for, among other things, his philanthropic contributions.
In 2006 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) “for service to the community through philanthropy and support for a broad range of organisations including Jewish community and health and welfare groups”.