Melbourne Jewry reaches out to the Indian community

October 21, 2009 by Geoffrey Zygier
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The Jewish Community Council of Victoria has taken a significant step in its intercommunal relationships by holding the first ever meeting between Victoria’s organised Jewish and Indian communities.

John Searle

John Searle

Senior office bearers of the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, the Hindu Community Council of Victoria and the Federation of Indian Students of Australia attended.

According to its president John Searle, the JCCV has adopted a more considered strategy in its dealings with other faith and ethnic communities.  This includes the drawing up of guidelines in consultation with Jewish organisations involved in such work; these will be released in coming weeks.

Searle said, “Following analysis of recent census data, our executive director Geoffrey Zygier presented a plan to the JCCV Executive.  Central to this was the development of a stronger relationship with the Indian community, particularly those of the Hindu faith.  As he pointed out, the Jewish experience in India has always been and remains excellent.  Commercial and other relationships between Israel and India continue to grow.  In Victoria, Hindus and Jews are also united by similar experiences of vilification and by radical Islamists seeing them as enemies.  With this common ground, and Hinduism being the fastest growing religion in Australia by far during the last decade, there is good reason to progress our relationship”.

Members of both communities met for a casual meal at the Beth Weizmann community centre. Although formalities were kept to a minimum, brief presentations were made on Jewish and Hindu teachings by Malvern Chabad’s Rabbi Reuvi Cooper and by Mr Karuppan Chockalingam.   Questions and discussion followed.

Bombay-born Ben Cohen [l] meets members of Melbourne's Indian community

“It was an excellent get together”, Searle continued.  “Interestingly enough, two of our Jewish participants were Sefardim with very fond memories of growing up Jewish in India and they told some wonderful stories. The atmosphere was genuinely warm and the discussion extremely stimulating.  This evening was a concrete example of the commitment of both communities to Victoria’s culturally diverse society.  As a bonus, we see great potential for us to undertake joint activities in the future, particularly in relation to anti-racism action.”

Bombay-born Ben Cohen [l] meets members of

Melbourne’s Indian community

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