Getting to know you

September 21, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Leader of the NSW Opposition Barry O’Farrell has visited The Jewish House in Sydney.

Jewish talk: Rabbi Mendel Kastel, Barry O'Farrell, Pru Goward

O’Farrell was accompanied by the Shadow Minister for Community Services Pru Goward and Sydney University Vice-Chancellor Ann Brewer who has made a study of the facility.

The invitation had been extended by Jewish House CEO Rabbi Mendel Kastel who wanted to enhance the politicians’ awareness of the care establishment’s activities with a hands-on tour of its facilities. Jewish House provides a 24/7 emergency hotline for distressed members of the community and a refuge for those needing shelter and food.

AFternoon tea at the Jewish House All photos: Henry Benjamin

At the cordial afternoon tea attended also by Board members, Goward showed her wide knowledge of the workings of relief care and questioned Rabbi Kastel on what happens to those who come to the Jewish House for help in the long-term. Both Barry O’Farrell and Pru Goward expressed the need for government to get behind charities where every dollar works.

Rabbi Kastel said: “They were very impressed and Pru Goward expressed tremendous knowledge of the type of work we we do. It was a very positive meeting and very encouraging for the future.”

Checking the food: Pru Goward, Rabbi Mendel Kastel, Roger Clifford and Barry O'Farrell

Co-founder of the Jewish House Roger Clifford told the politicians that there were no boundaries…everyone in the community could come to the Jewish House at any time for help although Rabbi  Kastel did say that the organisation focused on dealing with “short-term crisis explaining that The Jewish House was a holding area until other authorities could take on long-term work with those in need of it.

Barry O'Farrell studies figures

Barry O’Farrell asked about the demand for the Jewish House’s services, Rabbi Kastel said: “It’s up and down but it’s steady”. Pru Goward that the average stay in the refuge of two weeks was “unusual” stating that in other communities it is usually about twelve weeks. Rabbi Kastel pointed out the lack of housing available in the Eastern Suburbs highlighting a case for increased accommodation at the facility. He said that many of those moving on from the Jewish House had no other choice but to go to boarding houses at which he would still describe them as being homeless.

Barry O’Farrell and Pru Goward  inspected the facility viewing crates of food collected at local supermarkets in a joint inter-faith venture with Reverend Bill Crews’ Exodus Foundation to be distributed to the needy of all faiths.

They now have a greater understanding of the needs of those within the Jewish community dependent on the care organisations’ work and of the refuge facilities offered by The Jewish House.


One Response to “Getting to know you”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    It’s great to see an unbiased interfaith project of this magnitude. The Minister appears to be studying the paper work with great deliberation.

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