Over NZ$1.1 million donated by Jewish communities for those affected by the Christchurch killings

July 1, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Donations including US$650,000 from the Jewish community of Pittsburgh will be handed over to the Muslim community affected by the March killings in Christchurch in which 50 lost their lives.

Al Noor Mosque, Christchurch. Photo: Facebook

When the news of the attacks on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch broke on March 15th, it left New Zealand as a nation reeling. But the impact of those events went far beyond Aotearoa’s borders, resonating through the Jewish community globally.

“Our faith has a shared Abrahamic tradition, and Jews and Muslims have both suffered persecution and racism historically, and today,” says Stephen Goodman of the New Zealand Jewish Council. “The Jewish community, both in New Zealand and overseas, wanted the victims of the mosque attacks to know that we see them, we empathise with them, and we support them.”

In the aftermath of the attacks, the New Zealand Jewish Council was contacted by no less than four independent representatives from Jewish communities in America, Australia and New Zealand, wanting to donate money to ensure the ongoing needs of the Muslim attack victims were met.

“One of the first communities to get in touch was the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh in America,” says Goodman. “Within hours of the attack on their synagogue last October the Muslim community started a fundraising campaign to support Jewish victims, and they wanted to repay that kindness.”

As well as Pittsburgh, donations have been given by the New South Wales Jewish Community (represented by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies), the American Jewish Committee and the New Zealand Jewish community. Collectively, they will donate over NZD $1.1m to be spent on counselling and support services, medical treatment, financial planning services, and education and vocational training. The fund is designed to offer a response to the long term needs of a community who have been forever changed by the events, and will be managed by the Christchurch Foundation with input from both the Muslim and Jewish communities of New Zealand.

“The massacre occurred at a time when people were at their most vulnerable – at prayer in a house of worship,” says NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff. “All humanity is profoundly the poorer. We remember the attacks on the mosque in Quebec, the synagogue in Pittsburgh, the church in Charleston, the mosques in Christchurch. An attack on one faith is an attack on us all. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of the Christchurch massacre and we extend our hand in friendship in calling for an end to racism, an end to antisemitism, an end to Islamophobia, an end to bigotry in all its forms.”

The Christchurch Foundation is very happy to administrate this generous gift, known as the New Zealand Abrahamic Fund, on behalf of the various communities involved,” says Paul Deavoll, Deputy Chair for the Christchurch Foundation. “We know that the Jewish community in Pittsburgh especially has a deep understanding of the effects of the tragedy that unfolded in Christchurch on March 15th this year, as they experienced their own, similar tragedy just months before. We are grateful to all the communities that have donated, and we are looking forward to overseeing a fund that will contribute to further collaboration and understanding between these two Abrahamic faiths in New Zealand.”

In addition, it is hoped the money will also be used on interfaith activities to foster greater connection between to the two communities, who have so much in common.

“The Jewish and Muslim community in New Zealand already have a long history of collaboration, but this wider gift of support from the global community is very gratefully received,” says Ibrar Sheikh from the Federation of Islamic Associations NZ (FIANZ). “The events of March 15th 2019 have had a deep and lasting impact on the Muslim community in New Zealand, and indeed the people of Aotearoa as a whole. To know that our Jewish brothers and sisters understand what we have gone through, and are still going through, and are there to help us in our recovery is very important to us.”

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