A national day of unity

LEADERS from a range of diverse faith communities came together recently to declare this Saturday, October 25 as National Day of Unity.

In response to a growing number of reports of discrimination, violence and rising tensions within the Australian community, Australians are being invited to personally take part in visible acts of harmony and understanding on the day, which will coincide with Welcome to Australia’s annual “Walk Together” initiative, taking place across the country.

Representing the Jewish community at the launch at Sydney’s Pitt St Uniting Church, Union for Progressive Judaism executive director Steve Denenberg called on all Jews to reach out to members of other faiths “to join them in understanding that our collective future rests on people of faith”.

“The importance of reaching out to the stranger is crucial. In the Torah, one of the most often repeated things is the need to respect and care for the stranger, because we were strangers when we came out from Egypt as refugees. That is in our collective history and it remains with us today,” Denenberg said.

“History repeats itself in Australia and the role of migrants and refugees, particularly for the Jewish community, has been crucial.”

Rabbi Adam Stein, of Melbourne’s Kehilat Nitzan Synagogue, also backed the initiative. “A National Day of Unity helps us remember that there are more issues that unite us than divide us. We must not import conflict, we must export peace instead,” he said.

Dean Levitan, campaigns director of Stand Up: Jewish Commitment to a Better World, added: “Fear, prejudice and division harm us all and damage the fabric of our society. I believe that it is crucial that our community is a leading player in helping to express and create an Australia that is possible: compassionate, accepting and united.

“The Jewish community knows what discrimination looks and feels like. We’ve experienced and continue to experience it firsthand; that’s why we need to be part of a movement that helps create a more tolerant and harmonious society.”

For more information, visit welcometoaustralia.org.au.

EVAN ZLATKIS

Representatives of different faiths gathered to launch National Day of Unity.