Darren Bark 'on leave'

Veil of secrecy over CEO’s status

According to reports, the CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies has been 'put on unexpected leave' and isn't likely to return.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark. Photo: Giselle Haber
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark. Photo: Giselle Haber

A communal leader has questioned the veil of secrecy at the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) after The Australian reported on Monday night that CEO Darren Bark “has been put on unexpected leave” and is “very unlikely to be returning”.

The national masthead reported that “major upheaval” was underway at the state roof body and that while “Bark’s employment hasn’t been formally terminated … we hear lawyers are involved and that’s never a great sign”.

The Australian also claimed that Vic Alhadeff, who was JBD CEO from 2004 to 2021, had been approached about returning. But Alhadeff told The AJN on Tuesday, “I have not been offered the role of CEO, and there is nothing more to be said.”

The AJN approached the JBD for comment but was told only that Bark is on leave.

The communal leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, questioned the secrecy around the issue on Tuesday, saying, “The community deserves to know what is going on.

“Why are we reading about this in The Australian?” they asked.

“Why aren’t things open and transparent at the board? Why don’t we know what’s actually going on?”

Bark commenced in the role in May 2021 after being headhunted for the job. As CEO, he has overseen the the introduction of legislation to ban Nazi symbols in NSW, and The AJN understands he has been progressing discussions with the NSW Parliament about banning the salute.

Bark played a major role in obtaining security funding commitments for faith communities from both sides of politics prior to this year’s NSW state election, including $15 million from Labor. Under his leadership, the JBD spearheaded “Town Hall” style forums with both former premier Dominic Perrottet and his successor Chris Minns ahead of the March poll.

Bark was also involved in securing $5 million in funding for the Sydney Jewish Museum and a memorandum of understanding between the Department of Education and faith communities to increase Holocaust education in schools. He oversaw the launch of the JBD’s online reporting portal for the reporting of antisemitic bullying incidents.

During the 2021 Delta lockdown, Bark negotiated for the Jewish community to hear the shofar blown outdoors on Rosh Hashanah and for 15-minute outdoor services to be conducted on Yom Kippur.

He increased cooperation between faith communities in NSW and was instrumental in the formation of the Religious Communities Advisory Council during the term of the Perrottet government, which strengthened ties between faith groups and the state government.

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