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It's good to be an Aussie

27/01/17 15:26:23

Jan27

It’s good to be an Aussie!

Melbourne is a thriving city, touted as one of the world’s most liveable, it is also surely one of the most loveable! It’s a joy to live in: it’s energetic but easy going, multicultural and multidimensional offering a range of opportunities and coffees to people of all ages. Jewishly, it’s rich in both its expression and its scope. I’ve lived here for twenty years and have always considered it a warm, inviting and secure environment, a great place to have and grow a family. That’s why the events of last Friday were so shocking and unsettling.

That Friday Melbourne was a sad and stunned city as it came to terms, not with a terrorist act, but an act of terror. It was however no different from terrorism in its disregard for the life of ordinary citizens, its awful nihilism. A day that will sadly be defined by that baby carriage caught in the carnage, by the death of the young baby Zachary Bryant and ten year old Thalia Hakin and the three other victims. The fact that Thalia was a Beit Rivka girl known to so many in our community (and occasionally attended Caulfield Shule with her family) attenuated our awareness and accentuated our pain. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families, as well as those still in hospital, or struggling with the aftermath.

Yesterday, Australia Day, was a time for us all to reflect on the privilege and challenge of living here.

Judaism has long urged us to pray for the welfare and contribute to the wellbeing of the country we live in. As reflected in the numbers of Jews on the Australia Day Honours List, the Australian Jewish Community does this very well! Mazal tov to our member Ros Rogers (and Richard and family) on receiving the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to Youth and charitable organisations. Ros is founder of KOGO which encourages volunteers to knit winter woollies for people in need across Australian. Ros’s work highlights the Jewish commitment to tzedakah and chesed.

Australia is a compassionate country. We don’t do things perfectly and there’s lots of room for improvement especially uplifting our indigenous citizens, addressing our growing problems of mental health and homelessness, fighting domestic and child abuse, attending to the needs of refugees, opposing racism, sexism, antisemitism and Islamophobia. But for all this, there’s a spirit of cooperation and friendship and a positive energy that flows through our communities. It was evident on the streets of Melbourne last Friday when countless people responded to the needs of strangers with random acts of love, support and kindness. It was present in Hotham Street as the sad cortege of Thalia Hakin paused at the Yeshiva. And it’s happily obvious at the good spirited response of the spectators at Rod Laver.

The Psalmist (Psalm 133) reminds us that there are far things sweeter than harmony: “הנה מה טוב ומה נעים How good and pleasant is the living of brothers [and sisters] in unity… Like the dew of Mt Hermon descending on the mountains of Zion… for there is blessing. May there be life forever…” Le Chaim!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Ralph

Sun, 22 September 2019 22 Elul 5779