JEWISH university students are contributing to the creation of the Sydney Statement – a list of interfaith actions for building better relations between believers from different religions across Sydney.
A project of Youth PoWR (Parliament of the World’s Religions) – aided by a Multicultural NSW grant and research partner Western Sydney University – the document is partly being shaped by workshops held in four areas of Sydney.
The eastern suburbs workshop was held at Bondi Pavilion on November 3, where Youth HEAR’s (Holocaust Education and Remembrance) co-founder Harrison Rosen and its relations officer Gabi Stricker-Phelps were the Jewish guest speakers.
Stricker-Phelps emphasised two key pillars of Youth HEAR’s outreach work with non-Jewish young adults – Holocaust commemoration events and education seminars featuring survivors as speakers.
“It is through building bridges that you start to see innate similarities between religious groups that are all too often pitted against one another … and are able to cultivate collective strength that has the power to transform,” she said.
Rosen spoke of a worrying rise of hate-related offences, and referred as an example to an Executive Council of Australian Jewry report that found antisemitic attacks rose by 59 per cent in the last 12 months.
“Intolerance and hate is on the rise, and it is the problem of our generation,” Rosen said.
“The Holocaust looms as proof of where intolerance leads if left unchecked … those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”
Youth PoWR Jewish community representative Joshua Moses told The AJN he felt the focused discussions about the Sydney Statement’s development, and the district-based rather than centralised format of the Youth PoWR conference this year, meant greater input could be provided.
“The mood at the East Consultation event was very good, and I believe it was better than last year because it had a very practical component that will take things forward,” Moses said.
“We had a very good Jewish contingent there, and it was great that Together for Humanity’s national director Rabbi Zalman Kastel attended, and also NSW Jewish Board of Deputies community relations officer Hila Tsor, and staff from Western Sydney University, who distributed questionnaires as part of their research for the project.”
Moses said his next task will be to finalise and register Jewish representation for the Sydney Statement’s writing and steering committees, which will be responsible for creating the document’s first draft, which is due for completion in early 2020.