Community leaders in a service for remembrance for Christchurch victims

March 18, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Jewish community representatives joined Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Baha’i leaders at a moving Interfaith Service of Remembrance for the victims of the terror attacks in Christchurch at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral.

Lesli Berger 2nd left

The service, held in the presence of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition Tanya Plibersek, Premier Gladys Berejiklian, NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley and other civic and political leaders, was a testimony to the strong bonds of solidarity across the Australian community.

Archbishop Fisher, Jeremy Jones, Imam Thanvi and his wife

Governor David Hurley opened the proceedings with a reading from the Book of Jeremiah, after which Archbishop Anthony Fisher delivered a powerful and passionate address stressing our common humanity and the strong bonds of friendship which exist between different groups, regardless of faith or ethnicity. He opened his address by quoting The Australian newspaper’s Greg Sheridan saying “Today we are all Muslims”.

With the assistance of a translator, the Mufti of Australia responded by thanking those present for their support. On a number of occasions, he emphasised the friendship between Jews, Christians and Muslims specifically.

The Consul General for New Zealand, Bill Dobbie, spoke with emotion about the overwhelming sympathy and empathy from the Australian people at a time his nation was experiencing tremendous grief.

Dignitaries at the event lit candles in memory of the victims. The Jewish representatives who took part in this ceremony were Lesli Berger, President of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Jeremy Jones, Director of International and of Community Affairs for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, Rabbi Benjamin Elton of The Great Synagogue, Sydney, and Vic Alhadeff, CEO of the NSWJBD.

During the service, a message from Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Anton Bloch, was read out from the podium.

“The ceremony was emotional, dignified and powerful,” Jeremy Jones told J-Wire. “The inclusion of Lesli Berger with the religious leaders on the stage affirmed to all present the concern of the Jewish community of the horrendous actions of the rightwing terrorist murderer.”

“While some of the ceremony participants represented either right or left wing politics, religious representatives came from many faiths and denominations and some held positions of leadership and others were members of the public who wanted to show support, we were all there as human beings who had come together to assert values which had been challenged last week in New Zealand” Jeremy Jones concluded.

In the meantime, the Jewish Community of NSW and ACT has extended its heartfelt condolences to the many families whose lives have been forever altered by the tragic attacks on Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch.

President Stephen Chipkin and CEO Bruce Goldsmith said: “We stand with our close neighbours and partners in faith to condemn the brutality and violence of these senseless acts of terror. We are united in our opposition to the extremist views that vilify community groups based on their religion or ethnicity. And we are as one in our feelings of grief and deep sadness.

JCA, through its leadership and through its member organisations, will continue to work tirelessly alongside the Muslim community of Australia to promote a culture of inclusion, tolerance and acceptance. Our commitment to this shared goal is only strengthened in the wake of these acts of terror that seek to divide our communities and harm our families.

We are stronger together.”

The Zionist Federation of New Zealand condemned the despicable and cowardly terrorist attack on the Muslim community of Christchurch who were gathering for Friday prayers. 

President Rob Berg said: “An attack on any part of the New Zealand community is an attack on us all. This is an act of pure evil and has no place in New Zealand or anywhere in the world. As a community, we stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters and offer them our support and prayers. 

To not be able to congregate safely as a community, or pray in a place of worship is something none of us thought we would see here in New Zealand. All people should feel safe to come together as a community to pray, celebrate and commemorate. Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and to the families of those whose lives have been callously cut short.

The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) expressed its deep condolences to the victims of the terror attack in Christchurch. Fifty innocent worshippers across two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand have been confirmed killed with many more injured.

Upon hearing of the terrifying news of the attack, President of the ZFA Jeremy Leibler stated: “As Jews we know all too well what it is like to live in fear. The Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh is still fresh in our minds. We demanded action then and we demand action now. The Jewish community stands with the Muslim community in facing this shocking act of terror and hate crime,” Mr Leibler added.

The ZFA has also strongly condemned Senator Fraser Anning’s tweets and media statement in response to the terror attacks.

“It is deeply disturbing that an Australian Senator would use this horrific event to engage in victim blaming and further spread his xenophobic and hateful views. Unfortunately, it is no surprise that the same Senator who referred to a ‘Final Solution’ in his maiden speech has once again expressed deeply hateful and offensive speech targeting minority communities. Mr Anning’s views have no place in Australia and must be condemned,” Mr Leibler concluded.


2 Responses to “Community leaders in a service for remembrance for Christchurch victims”
  1. Baron Revelman says:

    I am eagerly awaiting the announcement of the interfaith service commorating the lives of those murdered by a terrorist in the city of Ariel in Israel yesterday.

  2. Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

    It is wonderful to note that all segments of the Australian Jewish community condemned the wanton mass murder in New Zealand of women and men attending Friday prayers at Mosques.
    May the families of all the victims be comforted by our common Creator.

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