NSW: Josie Lacey book launch: an inevitable path

More than 140 people attended the official launch on the weekend at the Sydney Jewish Museum of “An Inevitable Path – a Memoir”, telling the life of Jewish communal leader Josie Lacey, a prominent inter-faith and inter-community activist.


Josie Lacey was 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. In addition, she chairs the Religions for Peace – NSW branch.

In 1988, she was one of the instrumental figures in the passage of NSW’s anti-racism laws – the first in Australia.

The official launch – of the 178-page book – a was conducted by NSW Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the NSW Parliament’s Legislative Council, Shadow Arts Minister and NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel deputy chair – Walt Secord. (Mr Secord is also shadow minister for Health and Shadow Minister for the North Coast.)

Walt Secord and Josie Lacey

Among the attendees were: Great Synagogue chief minister Rabbi Ben Elton; Newtown Synagogue’s Rabbi Eli Feldman; Labor candidate for Newtown and Aboriginal leader Aunty Norma Ingram and various faith leaders.

It was also attended by her husband, Ian Lacey; their three daughters, Ruth, Dr Judith and Rebecca.

The book is part of the Sydney Jewish Museum’s Community Stories Project. The museum runs a program for members of the community who wish to write their life stories or the life story of a family member for future generations.

The program – led by Jacqui Joffe Wasilewsky – aims to:

** Provide members of the Sydney Jewish Museum and the wider Jewish community with an opportunity to express their individual family history in a written form; and
** Creates an archival collection of the social history of the NSW Jewish community.

An Inevitable Path was the 84th book in the on-going series, Community Stories Project from the Sydney Jewish Museum.

Rabbi Elton conducted a blessing for the occasion and Sydney Jewish Museum’s Chief Operations Manager and event manager – Aviva Wolff was master of ceremonies. Mrs Lacey spoke about her early childhood, her family and her work in anti-racism.

Mr Secord and Mrs Lacey met when he worked at the Australian Jewish News from 1988 to 1991. “The day Josie first appeared before me at the front desk of the Australian Jewish News was typical of Josie’s unstoppable nature. She wanted to talk about her campaign for racial vilification laws and how the Australian Jewish News should get on board.”

“I have read Josie’s book from cover to cover. It is humorous, insightful, truthful, sad and optimistic. In her book, Josie recollects first-hand experiences of Nazi Germany, before migrating to Australia and settlement here.

“While I have known her for more than 30 years, there are things in this book that I never knew – which surprised me. But what did not surprise me was that throughout her entire life, she has always pursued a moral and principled course.”

“As the title of the book suggests, Josie Lacey was on An Inevitable Path. `She was always on a path; a path to fight intolerance and injustice.’”

“Whether it is fighting antisemitism in rural NSW, building bridges with other faiths, assisting other migrants or fighting for women’s rights in the Jewish community, Josie Lacey was there,” Mr Secord said.


Josie and Ian Lacey with their three daughters Rebecca Dr Judith and Ruth as well as son-in-law David and granddaughters Ella and Sara


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