Convenor of the NSW Branch of Religions for Peace, Josie Lacey AM, has been honoured in the NSW parliament for her service to the community and to interfaith activities. NSW Labor frontbencher Walt Secord has hosted a special event at State Parliament where he addressed the parliament paying tribute to Jewish communal leader Josie Lacey.
The NSW chapter of Religions for Peace comprises spiritual leaders and adherents of the Buddhist, Bahai, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu faiths as well as the various Christian denominations including the Uniting Church in Australia, the Catholic Church, and Egyptian Coptics. It has since added other faiths including Indigenous beliefs and Zoroastrianism.
Over the years, she has served in a range of roles including as an executive member of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, president of Wizo, a life member of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW, including its anti-racism taskforce, as well as being active in a number of inter-faith organisations including the World Conference on Religion and Peace.
Born in Romania, Josie Lacey came here as a Jewish refugee fleeing Nazi Europe in 1939 with her parents and brother. In 1992, Josie was awarded an OAM for services to community relations and the Jewish Community.
“I support the noble aims and work of the New South Wales chapter,” Mr Secord said.
“The group is a model on how we should all conduct ourselves. It carries out all of its activities with respect and dignity for others. It is also a model for NSW as we strive for a more harmonious and tolerant society in our State.”
Josie Lacey was joined by Ian, her husband of more than 61 years. Together, they have three daughters, Ruth, Dr Judith and Rebecca.
“Their work and their relentless fight against injustice have always taken place in the context of their inspiring loving partnership, with each complementing the other’s skill set and achieving great things as a team – notably including the historic anti-racial vilification laws in NSW,” Mr Secord said.
In November 2018, Josie published her memoir – An Inevitable Path – and it launched at the Sydney Jewish Museum.
“As the title of her book suggests, she was always on a path; a path to fight intolerance and injustice. Whether it has been fighting antisemitism in rural NSW, building bridges with other faiths, assisting other migrants, or fighting for women’s rights in the Jewish community, Mrs Lacey was there,” Mr Secord said.
Mr Secord also read a formal message from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-Chief Executive Officer, Peter Wertheim saying: “Heartiest congratulations from all of us at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry on completing ten wonderful years as Convenor of Religions for Peace in NSW.
Under your dedicated leadership, the group has brought together distinguished representatives of eight different faith communities to share with one another the spiritual treasures of their respective religious traditions, and to contribute the knowledge and experience that has grown from those traditions to put forward solutions to contemporary problems that leave no one behind.
The group’s inclusion of First Nations people has served to broaden and deepen our understanding of First Nations’ spirituality and connection to country. This has helped demonstrate that religions are more powerful, inspiring, and impactful when they work together in mutual respect.
All of this work has been enhanced immeasurably by the many decades of experience which you and Ian have had at the cutting edge of interfaith and inter-communal cooperation, and by the many close friendships, you have both formed with a wide range of political, civil society and communal leaders.
We know that you have done this work as a labour of love, but we are indebted to you all the same. By strengthening the ties that bind us together as spiritual beings, you have enhanced the cohesiveness of our diverse society for the benefit of all. So thank you Josie, and thank you, Ian, for your magnificent contributions to our beloved Australia.”
Walt Secord is the deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel and the Shadow Minister for Police and Counter Terrorism.
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