James Altman serves as Senior Vice President from Australia. Altman also served as president of B’nai B’rith Australia/New Zealand (BBANZ) from 2002-2006 and 2010-2013. He is also past chairman of B’nai B’rith Courage to Care—a community educational program for students and adults aimed at teaching how to be an upstander (rather than a bystander) in the face of discrimination and prejudice, especially in relation to anti-Semitism. Having been involved with the program since its inception in 1999, he became chairman of Courage to Care in 2019 and was honored with the B’nai B’rith International President’s Award for his work with the program.
Altman is also chairman of the B’nai B’rith Foundation in Australia, which aids victims of natural disasters around the world.
Through his involvement in BBANZ, Altman was instrumental in securing amendments to the Resolution on the Rights of the Child from the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. He has also volunteered with the Refugee Council of Australia, the Australian Refugee Foundation and the Online Hate Prevention Institute.
In 2008, he received the Medal of the Order of Australia from the Australian government for his service to the Jewish community and for fostering intercultural understanding.
Altman is the son of Austrian Jews who escaped to Australia from Vienna in 1938. They were among the founding members of B’nai B’rith Australia, established in 1944.
Outside of his work with B’nai B’rith, Altman has a passion for music and has been involved in choirs for most of his life, including in the late 1970s and 1980s when he conducted the choir of the Great Synagogue in Sydney. Altman is married to Elaine and together they have two adult daughters and three grandsons.