Interfaith at Masada

October 22, 2009 by J-Wire Staff
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200 teenagers of different ethnic and faith backgrounds came together in a unique youth harmony program today.

f left: Naseli Robertson, Brad Hughes, Josh Holley, Zainab Mohson, Fatima El Nabouch, Josh Curnoe, Dylan Rosenthal

f left: Naseli Robertson, Brad Hughes, Josh Holley, Zainab Mohson, Fatima El Nabouch, Josh Curnoe, Dylan Rosenthal

Titled “Respect, Understanding, Acceptance”, the program is a project of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

The participants came from five schools: St Paul’s College Manly (Catholic); Hamazkaine Arshak and Sophie Galstaun College (Armenian); Davidson High School (state); the Australian International Academy (Muslim); and Masada College (Jewish).

The students were welcomed by Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff, who urged them to be proud of their identities – and to have the courage to respect the identities of others.

The keynote speaker was Channel 7 identity Glenn Wheeler, who described how Australia had changed – for the better – since his youth, and that it was essential to embrace diversity.

The students engaged in discussions, painted canvas murals with messages of peace, performed musical items and enjoyed a kosher barbecue.

“The objective of the program is to break down barriers between different backgrounds and for students to come to know, understand and respect each other for who they are – Australian youth who happen to have diverse backgrounds,” said Alhadeff.

“This was the third time this year that we brought these students together, and it was gratifying to note the friendships which have developed between the various groups from the time of the initial encounter to today.”

The Board of Deputies brings together about 1000 students of different backgrounds in various harmony programs every year.

Held at Masada College, today’s program was a project of the Board of Deputies Education Secretariat and was organised by Board education manager Lynda Ben-Menashe.

The feedback from staff and students was overwhelming. Said one teacher: “Seeing students who hardly have a word to say each other talking warmly and openly was the best part of the program. This project has undeniably been one of the most wonderful education experiences I have ever been involved in – better than years of classroom activity.”

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