Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency will be a guest of the ZFA in Sydney and Melbourne together with the ZCNSW, ZCV and UIA.
He will arrive in Sydney on the 26th March and events will be held over three days including a large communal event on Thursday evening 27th March at The Central Synagogue.
The communal event in Melbourne will be held on Tuesday 1st April at the Beth Weizmann Community Centre. Sharansky will be the special guest and keynote speaker at the ZFA’s Biennial Conference on Sunday 30 March in Melbourne. He will also undertake a series of events with various groups in the community, including students, young adults, and members of the Israeli and Russian Jewish communities.
Sharansky has this to say about his upcoming visit:
“The Australian Jewish community, with its emphasis on Jewish education and its strong connection to Israel, is in many ways a model for the Jewish world. I look forward to visiting my friends down under and experiencing the vibrancy of Australian Jewry.”
Sharansky was born in the Soviet Union to a Jewish family in 1948. He was a chess prodigy who graduated with a degree in Applied Mathematics from Moscow. Sharanksy was one of the foremost dissidents and spokesman for Soviet Jewry. Arrested in 1977 he spent years in the notorious prison camp in the Siberian gulag. He arrived in Israel in 1986 and was greeted by then Prime Minister Shimon Peres. He is one of the most famous Soviet refusniks, an Israeli politician, author and human rights activist.
Philip Chester, ZFA President remarked:
“The ZFA is honoured to bring Natan Sharansky to Australia in his capacity as Chairman of the Jewish Agency. He is no stranger to Australia having visited here in 2008, Sharansky has always had a huge impact on those who hear him speak. I have admired him from when he was an iconic dissident and a key player in the ‘let my people go’ campaign and to see his professional and personal evolution makes him a personal role model. His presence at the ZFA Biennial and events in both Sydney and Melbourne promise to engage with community and he will certainly resonate across the generations. We look forward to him sharing his story with the community. His incredible biography, activism and involvement as Chairman of the Jewish Agency is inspiring and we welcome him, his voice and his narrative.”