Interfaith at work

August 26, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Sydney’s The Jewish House has joined forces with the Rev Bill Crew’s Exodus Foundation to collect and distribute food for the needy…irrespective of faith, colour or creed.

Robert Kohn pops food into the box watched by Coles manager Naif Coralic, Uri Butnaru, Rabbi Mendel Kastel and Rev Bill Crews Photo: Henry Benjamin

The new initiative was launched today at Coles Supermarket at Westfield Bondi Junction. Shoppers will be greeted at the store entrance by spruikers who will invite them to buy an extra food item to place in a giant box at checkout. The collected food will be distributed by both organisations to the needy.

Retired printer Robert Kohn is the man behind the scheme. He told J-Wire: “Rabbi Mendel Kastel asked me what I was up to since stopping work…one thing lead to another and here we are today. We have organised banners, boxes and volunteers. The motto of the campaign is ‘yes we can’ so we are asking shoppers to buy a can.”

Rabbi Mendel Kastel was full of praise for his inter-faith partner. He said: “Bill Crews is a wonderful man and a great person to work with. I’ve sent young members of the Jewish community to work in his Ashfield kitchens…visited daily by many needy and underprivileged people in need of a meal. He is a wonderful man who is totally hands on in the work he does.Yes It Can is a wonderful opportunity to put ideological differences aside and do what we can to help others.”

The campaign will run for two weeks until Rosh Hashana. Coles NSW Kosher Foods Coordinator Uri Butnaru told J-Wire: “We are very privileged to be part of this campaign. Other Coles stores participating will be Eastgate, Edgecliff, Rose Bay, Pagewood and Maroubra. We hope to run a similar venture in Melbourne next year.”

The Rev Bill Crews said: “Rabbi Kastel contacted me because we have also have access to retail stores donating and he suggested that we share the project. I think it is wonderful. We might get a ton of soap powder and another organisation may get a ton of cereals so there is a lot of dealing going on between the help the needy organisations. In a sense homelessness, poverty, lack of food speaks all languages and all religions so you work with anybody  who can help you provide hep for your people and then they can provide help for theirs. This is our first venture with The Jewish House but we have worked in the past with the Emanuel Synagogue. Whenever we are involved with other religions we find we start laughing together. We put on major lunches on Christmas Day and rabbis have told us that Jewish people are stuck for things to do so they offer their help. Loving compassion speaks all languages. This is interfaith at work…when you work together to help the communities together you actually learn to like one another and then the religious differences don’t mean much given the problems that you are facing together. You can talk all you like…but in the end it’s what you do that counts.”

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