53rd UCA-Jewish Dialogue
May 24, 2022
written by Rob Floyd
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry – Uniting Church in Australia Dialogue met for the 53rd time, and for the first time in 2022, via video-conference last Thursday.
The Dialogue is an intentional space held by the two faith communities. The purpose of the Dialogue is to build and maintain a relationship of trust and understanding, provide a space and opportunity to address important issues and issues of mutual concern as they arise, and where a growing number of members of both faith communities can enter into an understanding of the role and importance of interfaith dialogue.
The meeting began by recognising that both faith traditions were celebrating major festivals in the coming days. The Jewish community will be celebrating Shavuot on 4 – 6 June whilst the Uniting Church and other Christian churches will celebrate Pentecost on 5 June.
Led first by Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio and then Rev Dr Robyn Whitaker, each of the faith groups shared the historic significance of the festivals and then reflected on how they are celebrated in modern Jewish and Christian communities today.
Following this time of sharing and learning, the conversation moved to the main topic of conversation set down for the meeting, Faith in the Public Square.
Representatives from both communities again shared aspects of their faith initiatives in the public square. These included areas like advocacy to government on key issues of importance, and the challenges each community experienced in relating to the media when trying to express their positions.
One interesting acknowledgement was that Christian churches, having often been very central in life and public discourse, were finding themselves speaking more and more from the margins.
Conversation reflected on issues of significance including support for new arrivals and refugees, care for people in need in the community and addressing issues of marginalisation and discrimination against minority groups.
“Having participated in more than fifty of the Dialogues with the Uniting Church, I can say without fear of contradiction that each of our Dialogues have been extremely worthwhile and that a respectful, trusting relationship has been developed,” said Dialogue co-Chair Jeremy Jones.
“We are all aware of the challenges facing our individual faith communities and benefit greatly from hearing about the experience of others."
The conversation concluded with thanks to our two co-chairs, Mr Jeremy Jones, former President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and currently Director of International and of Community Affairs for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, and Rev Tara Curlewis. The Dialogue will meet again later in the year.