Jeremy Jones AM, AIJAC’s Director of International and of Community Affairs, participated in four quite different, yet all significant, interfaith events in the last two weeks of October.
The busy period began in Madrid, Spain, where he took part in the International Leadership Council dialogue, in which representatives of the Vatican and World Jewry convene every two years to discuss matters of concern and areas for cooperation. Jeremy Jones is the only Australian to ever have been invited to participate as a representative of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, and this was the second ILC meeting he has attended. The Jewish and Catholic delegates participated in plenary sessions and working groups, with Jeremy a member of the Working Group on Join Action to combat antisemitism.
From Madrid, he went to Kiev, in the Ukraine, where a major international conference took place marking the 100th Anniversary of the Blood Libel trial of Mendel Beilis (popularised in fiction by Bernard Malamud). The theme of the conference was the past, present and possible future of antisemitism, with representatives of more than forty countries, including many politicians, academics and community leaders, from Europe, North America, Israel, Turkey and Australia. Sydney Academic Darren O’Brien presented on the Blood Libel in history, while Jeremy Jones contributed to the closing plenary, at Ukraine’s Parliament House, on how interfaith dialogues contribute to combating antisemitism.
Returning to Australia, Jeremy Jones led the Jewish delegation at the National Dialogue of the Uniting Church in Australia with the ECAJ, in Melbourne. Jeremy Jones made a presentation on “The Significance of Exodus to the Jewish people” and led discussion on “Responding to Antisemitism”. At the Dialogue Rabbi John Levi led the session on “G-d in the Constitution”, with other contributions throughout the day by Michel Leloum, Cantor at Temple Beth Israel, and Sharyn Mittleman, AIJAC Policy Analyst.
The last of the interfaith events combined dialogue of minds with dialogue of action, as he joined with members of The Emanuel Synagogue, led by Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio, and from Zetland Mosque, led by Sheikh Amin Hady, cooking food together for Sydney’s needy. The session, at Our Big Kitchen in Bondi, was the first official Sydney event for the International “Weekend of Twinning” of Synagogues and Mosques, coordinated by the New York-based Federation for Ethnic Understanding. The meals prepared during the interaction of members of the two communities was designated to help bushfire victims and the homeless, with strudels also prepared for residents of domestic violence shelters.
Mr. Jones said, “While it is not a simple matter to try to evaluate outcomes of these type of events, I can report that the ILC meeting produced an outstanding declaration and joint plan of action, the Kiev Conference connected hundreds of committed activists and people of influence with each other and with new ideas, the Dialogue with the UCA added momentum to the important work of mutual understanding and a deepening sense of fraternity while the Twinning Event promoted good food, friendships and the basis for further cooperation for the common good”.