Clergy and youth groups report an a Rambam study tour

August 21, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Graduates of two recent Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Rambam study visits to Israel, composed of Christian clergy and University and Youth leaders from across Australia respectively, have addressed an AIJAC luncheon in Melbourne.

Colin Rubenstein, Joey Wilkinson, Alex Lisov, Jake Cripps, Glen Falkenstein

Rabbi Ralph Genende, a member of AIJAC’s editorial committee,who recently returned from leading the delegation composed of Christian clergy, told the audience that Rambam’s message was to maintain an open mind.

The 12th century Jewish scholar, after whom the AIJAC program is named, “challenges us to open our minds and open our eyes”, Rabbi Genende said.

Reverend Jennifer Hughes, Deacon Priscilla Hein and Associate Pastor Mark Hann all spoke fondly of their time in Israel, a place that holds a special place for Jews and Christians alike, elaborating on how the program affected them..

“We met an enormous number of people who earnestly seek peace,” Reverend Hughes said, adding that she prayed for peace at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

Associate Pastor Mark Hann, Colin Rubenstein, Rabbi Ralph Genende, Reverend Jennifer Hughes, Deacon Priscilla Hein

Deacon Hein explained how the trip had exposed her to realities of the region.

“This journey changed my perception. I realised before I went away that I had some ideas about things I didn’t really understand ,” Deacon Hein said. “We were there to learn and we were encouraged to and I am very grateful for that.”

Associate Pastor Hann expressed his gratitude to the program facilitators for the opportunity to visit the Middle East and so many sites of great significance, adding that his church in Mount Gambier has started fundraising “for all things Israel”.

“I’ll use [the trip] as a platform to be an advocate, not only for Israel, but for understanding more and more the complexities,” Pastor Hann said.

Campus leaders from student leadership  Rambam group  also addressed the  Melbourne  meeting.

Jake Cripps, General Secretary of the National Union of Students (NUS), highlighted the investment Israel makes in young entrepreneurs.

“The main take-away I got from Israeli culture was the investment they make in young people… The trip was a massive eye-opener,” he said.

Before leaving for Israel, Alex Lisov, President of the Victorian Young Liberals, highlighted the recent Liberal Party Federal Council debates as to whether Australia should move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as recent announcements the Federal Government has made regarding the allocation of aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Hearing from experts in Israel and seeing the situation on the ground, “It really showed that in the western world, we have to make change through our political parties,” Lisov said.

Dr. Colin Rubenstein, on behalf of AIJAC, thanked all speakers for their thoughtful impressions indicating how diligently and conscientiously they had applied themselves during their study visit programs.

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