Interfaith group celebrates Chanukah

December 13, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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Muslim, Baha’i and Hindu faiths and the major Christian denominations including the Catholic, Coptic and Uniting churches have united with members of Sydney’s Jewish community attending a Chanukah service and Shabbat meal at Emanuel Synagogue.

Interfaith-group-at-Emanuel-Synagogue---close-up-shot

Interfaith group flanked by Walt Secord [left] and Jeremy Jones [right] with Josie Lacey in yellow

The Religions for Peace NSW Branch – a Sydney interfaith group attended the Friday night Chanukah service and Shabbat meal at Emanuel Synagogue in Sydney

The group is chaired by Josie Lacey – a well-known interfaith and anti-racism activist from the Jewish community.

Among the attendees were: Imam Amin Hady of the Zetland Mosque; Jeremy Jones (Executive Council of Australian Jewry); Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations president Prof Abd Malak (Coptic); Rev Dr David Gill (Uniting Church); Rev Gayatripana Mataji, Purima (Hindu); Robert Grant (Hindu); Venus Khalesi (Baha’i), Caroline Haski (Emanuel Synagogue), Wilma Viswanathan (Uniting Church) and Sister Marianne Dacy.(Catholic).

NSW Deputy Opposition Labor leader in the State Parliament’s Legislative Council and Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord also attended the service as he hosts the organisation at State Parliament and supports their aims. Mr Secord, while not Jewish used to worked at the Australian Jewish News as a reporter between 1988 and 1991.

Mrs Lacey said: “Chanukah celebrates the triumph of light over darkness; freedom over oppression and good over evil. In these difficult times, it is important to reach out to other faiths and to find the light within and bring warmth to all of those around us.”

Mrs Lacey thanked Emanuel Synagogue board for hosting the group as well as senior Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins and Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio for welcoming the visitors.

For some of the members, it was their first Chanukah service and first visit to a Jewish place of worship.

Mr Secord said: “It was an honour and a privilege to attend the beautiful service and the wonderful Shabbat meal. I also extend my congratulations to the Religions for Peace NSW branch and Mrs Josie Lacey for their tireless efforts to foster understanding and community harmony. They do fantastic work to build a more cohesive community.”

“Like Chanukah and the lighting of each candle on the menorah, our society must find the light within and bring warmth to all of those around us.”

Mr Secord added it was also pleasant to catch up with Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, who he used to interview when he was a journalist at the Australian Jewish News more than 25 years ago.

Religions for Peace NSW Branch meets regularly to discuss social cohesion and to explore understanding, cooperation, harmony and peace between the religions.

The NSW chapter is one of several Australian divisions of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, an interfaith body of representatives from more than 70 different countries. Founded in 1970, the World Conference of Religions for Peace encourages dialogue, tolerance and understanding between the major faiths of the world.

In previous sessions, the Religions for Peace NSW branch dealt with constitutional recognition for Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and hosted NSW Deputy Police Commissioner, Nick Kaldas who spoke on community relations and his own family background.

Chanukah service was part of the Religions for Peace’s on-going interfaith activity.

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