Worldwide Jewish communities raise over $1 million for Christchurch

Friends of a missing man grieve outside a refuge centre after the Christchurch shootings. Photo: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff will this month present a $71,000 cheque to families of the victims of the Christchurch attacks.

Over $1 million in total will be handed over from the Jewish communities of Pittsburgh (USA), Sydney and New Zealand.

Alhadeff will travel to New Zealand to present the cheque, the result of the Sydney Jewish community via a crowdfunding campaign, at a function hosted by the Mayor of Christchurch on July 17.

Alhadeff will also visit the two mosques where, on March 15 this year, a gunman opened fire killing 51 people.

“The massacre occurred at a time when people were at their most vulnerable – at prayer in a house of worship,” Alhadeff said.

“An attack on one faith is an attack on us all, 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.”

New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman, who will join Alhadeff, said, “Our faiths share the Abrahamic tradition, and Jews and Muslims have both suffered racism historically and today.

“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, we support them.”

He said one of the first communities to get in touch was the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

Eleven people died when a shooter stormed the Tree of Life Synagogue in October 2018.

“Within hours of the attack on their synagogue last October, the Muslim community of Pittsburgh started a fundraising campaign to support Jewish victims and the Pittsburgh Jewish community wanted to repay that kindness,” Goodman said.

The funds have been raised for the families of the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack for counselling and support services, medical treatment, financial planning, education and vocational training, and will be managed by the Christchurch Foundation.

The funds will also be used to advance interfaith activities to foster greater connection between to the Jewish and Muslim communities of New Zealand.

Christchurch Foundation deputy chair Paul Deavoll said, “We are grateful to all the communities that have donated and are looking forward to overseeing a fund that will contribute to further collaboration and understanding between these faiths.”

Sheikh Ibrar Sheikh of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand said the “support from the global Jewish community is very gratefully received”.

“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,” he said.

AJN STAFF