News Story

Church Honours Leader from Sydney's Jewish Community

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently honoured a prominent member of Sydney’s Jewish community, Mr Norbert Schweizer, for service to the community over many years.

Sydney Latter-day Saint leader, Mr Danny Hamilton, presented a ‘Standing for Something’ award to Mr Schweizer at a special gathering at Emmanuel Synagogue near Woollahra, New South Wales earlier this month.

The Church recognises individuals for outstanding, selfless and dedicated community service with the ‘Standing for Something Award.’ The name of the award is taken from a book by Latter-day Saint leader, Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008). The concept for the award also draws upon the experience and example of Australian soldier, John Simpson Kirkpatrick

Mr Hamilton said, as he presented the award to Mr Schweizer, “As a symbol of our gratitude we present to Norbert the John Simpson Kirkpatrick ‘Standing for Something Award,’ otherwise known as the legendary ‘Simpson with his donkey award.’”

John Kirkpatrick trudged resolutely up and down Shrapnel Gully and Monash Valley carrying the wounded to safety and away from the line of fire during the WW1 campaign in Gallipoli, saving some 300 ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand soldiers),” he said. “We give this award to another who has trudged the valleys of life, lifting and saving those less fortunate and unable to fend for themselves, Norbert Joseph Schweizer.”

Mr Hamilton continued: “I am a long-time friend of Norbert Schweizer.  It is an honour for me to address you here today, in this holy place, the Emanuel Synagogue.  What a thrill it is to pay tribute to a very exceptional man whose impact for good and charity towards those of our mutual multi-faith community has been seen and felt by many.” 

Rabbi Jacki Ninnio said, referring to the biblical account of Joseph who had been cast into the pit by his brothers, “We must reach out and show forth love towards those who fall and cannot rescue themselves.”

Mr Schweizer has served as president, committee member or founder of the following organisations: The Royal institute for Deaf and Blind children; the German-Australian Welfare Society; the Swiss Community Care Society; the Schizophrenia Research Institute; the B’nai B’rith Retirement Villages; and the Emanuel Synagogue.

Growing up in Australia with both German and Jewish heritage and having no family members surviving the Nazi Holocaust, Mt Schweizer says he felt a desire to reach out into the German community in pursuit of reconciliation between Germans and Jews.

Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins said, “Given our own historical experience of wandering and displacement, our visceral understanding of the need to have safe haven, it seems appropriate to celebrate not just our own welcome to Australia, but also to celebrate and welcome others who have escaped hardship, persecution and instability to make a home here.”

Robert Klein, an Emanuel congregant who volunteers at the Asylum Seekers Centre in Surry Hills, said, “Given that most of our community are either immigrants or descendants of immigrants, I believe we have a special responsibility to welcome new immigrants to Australia.”

Mia Freedman, media personality and publisher, who is also a congregant of Emanuel, said, “I believe that new arrivals to Australia should be warmly welcomed with the generosity of spirit Australians are famous for.”

Mr Schweizer was accompanied by his wife, Sonja, and joined by many of his friends and colleagues at the event. 

He founded the firm now called Schweizer Kobras in 1978. He is an accredited specialist in business law and a public notary. 

Read more about Latter-day Saints and interfaith relations.

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