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5774: Is There a Growing Distance Between Our Key Institutions?

September 9, 2013 – 12:34 pm2 Comments

From the editor:

Nina Bassat and Danny Lamm seem to be wishing two completely different communities a sweet new  year. One community is sufficiently established and secure to care for others and strive for peace, while the other community is under siege.

We published Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) President, Lamm’s, message on September 2 and we’re republishing it here under the message from Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), Bassat.

Compare and contrast.

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From Nina Bassat:

As we approach this season of the High Holy Days and wish each other a happy, healthy and peaceful year we cannot help but be aware of the poignancy of those wishes in a precarious world, torn by strife and division, and for many, defined by suffering and despair.

In this time of great turmoil the desire for peace becomes the paramount hope. We pray for it on a communal level, we pray for it on a national level, and we pray for it on a global level.

We ask ourselves what we as individuals can do to promote the Jewish values of Tikun Olam and peace.

What we can do is to condemn discrimination, racism and violence, whenever and wherever we come across it. What we can do is to try to ensure that we deal with each other with integrity, with understanding, with acceptance of each other’s views, and above all, with kindness.

We can work together as a community, even if our politics, our religious observance and our philosophies differ. For it is only if we work united as one that we can have the strength to deal with the multiplicity of attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel and, by extension, the whole of the Jewish people.

It is only if we accept the challenge of unity and act on it as a possibility that we can wish each other a happy and peaceful 5774.

שנה טובה ומתוקה

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From Danny Lamm:

As we approach the Yamim Noraim, our time of reflection and renewal, we begin to assess the events of the past year and to express our hopes for the year ahead.

We live in a world of contradictions.  Science and technology hold out the tantalising prospect of curing illnesses, ending hunger and poverty, and diminishing many of the other traditional causes of conflict.  Yet strife and bloodshed are everywhere.  Not since the first half of the twentieth century have the world’s  horizons been darkened so ominously by the proliferation of hatred and war.

Dictators and despots once again issue blood-curdling calls for the destruction of Jewish life, as though Israel and the Jewish people are somehow to blame for the internal carnage in Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the region. In Hungary and Greece, and other parts of Europe, a reversion to acts of violence against Jews and public expressions of antisemitism are becoming more frequent and are even tolerated.  In Poland, the surviving Jewish community is facing  attacks on its religious freedoms in the form of a ban on kosher slaughter.

Even in peaceful Australia, antisemitic incidents are reported daily and the threat to our communal institutions remains credible and persistent.  Against this backdrop, the old bipartisan consensus in support of Israel has started to break down.

While these challenges must not be minimised, we express our hope for a better year to come. We are a hopeful people. And so, we express our deep and solemn prayer that the coming year brings a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, even while the Palestinians and Israel’s  Arab neighbours are unable to make peace within and among themselves. We hope that a resurgent antisemitism in Europe is confronted and vanquished. We hope that blow by blow, the shameful movement to demonise and boycott Israel is discredited  and defeated. We hope that this will be a year without a new Lebanon war, without a new Burgas bus bombing, without a new Toulouse Jewish school massacre

But to hope is not enough. We are a people defined by our willingness to act, by our ability to join together and overcome. In this year, we as a community have acted and achieved a great deal.

We have stood up to the institutional anti-Israel bias in numerous mainstream media sources in this country and caused them to modify their behaviour.

We joined with our colleagues from around the world at the World Jewish Congress plenary in Budapest to show our resolve to stand up to antisemitism in the places where it is most pervasive.

We have worked tirelessly with our international friends to ensure that Jewish communities around the world are able to live as Jews and practise the ancient rites of circumcision and kashrut

We ensured that while some countries seek to revise or even glorify their Nazi pasts, in Australia, we continue to revere those who stood against Nazism.  Raoul Wallenberg is now an honorary Australian citizen and the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism has been signed by a higher proportion of Members of Parliament in Australia than anywhere else in the world.

We have ensured that now every Australian child will learn about the horrors of the Holocaust and understand the true nature of antisemitism as part of the national curriculum.

And we have ensured that communal security is an election issue and both parties have pledged to increase funding to secure our schools.

As we reflect on these and other achievements and the great challenges that face us ahead, we thank you, members of our superb community, for your passion, dedication and support and urge you to stand with us again in the coming year and help us to represent the interests of the Jewish people in this country and throughout the world.

On behalf of all of us at the ECAJ, we extend best wishes to each and every person in our community for a shana tova umetuka k’tiva v’chatima tova, a year of health, happiness, prosperity and peace.

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