United in Sorrow, a Silent Vigil

The Wellington Abrahamic Council, The Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, and the Religious Diversity Centre invite you to a Silent Vigil.

Wednesday 28 February 2024, 5:30-7:00pm at
Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, 2 Hill Street, Wellington

The event will provide a sacred space for those impacted by violence, to grieve their personal loss, and to give public expression to the grief for all united alongside them. There will be periods of shared silence, music, and meditative reflection, with light vegetarian refreshments served afterwards.

As this is a peaceful gathering, no flags, banners, symbols or patches, please.

You can download a poster to share with your friends and colleagues.

Peacenic 2024: A picnic for peace

Join us for the fifth Wellington Peacenic, a picnic for peace!
Where: Shorland Park, Island Bay
When: Sunday 18 February 2024 4pm-6pm
Theme: Kids and games

We’ll get together with our Jewish, Christian, and Muslim friends, share some food, enjoy conversation, play some games, and make new friends.

Peacenic began in Auckland in 2016. It grew out of a desire to replace the polarising bad-news stories that dominate the media with real experiences of hospitality and friendship in our own backyard. The simplest gift of sharing time and food is rewarding in itself but goes beyond that to offer a glimpse of the world as it could be. In our increasingly multi-religious, multi-ethnic community, we want to help build bridges across the divisions that have historically separated Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Shorland Park is right at the main beach at Island Bay, and is right on the popular #1 bus route. Parking is available on Reef Street, and access is via a sealed pathway. Bring food to share (ideally kosher, halal, or vegetarian) but be sensitive to other faiths’ dietary requirements; ask if you are not sure. Please take rubbish away with you. Invite friends of other faiths, consider car pooling…and enjoy yourself!

Bring your kids, and we’ll all have fun together.

For further info, contact Ann Desmond on 022 494 1775.

You can also download our flyer you’d like to invite others from your faith community or post it in your church, mosque, or synagogue.

Rejecting all forms of hate and bigotry

20 October 2023

This is a moment of deep pain in the world. Since the events of 7 October in Israel and Gaza, we have seen exploitation of the crisis to spread hate, disinformation and extremism overseas and here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Let us be unequivocally clear:
We the undersigned reject all forms of hate and bigotry, including racism, Islamophobia, anti-Arab hate, and antisemitism. We are reminded that all of our communities’ safety and futures are inextricably linked – and we recommit ourselves to fighting racism, bigotry, and hate in all its forms.

The Torah commands us to “love your neighbour as yourself”.
The New Testament enjoins us to “love one another”.
The Quran teaches us that The Almighty has created different “peoples and tribes that we may know one another”.

We stand together with all of our neighbours under threat and urge our elected and community leaders, police, schools, universities, public institutions, employers and workplaces to make clear that there will be zero tolerance for any act of hate.

L’shalom, Salaam, Kia tau te Rangimārie – towards peace and justice in our world.

The Wellington Abrahamic Council of Jews, Christians, and Muslims

If you or your organisation would like to endorse this statement, please contact us and we will add your name to this page.

Endorsed by the following organisations:

Anglican Association of Women, Wellington Diocese
Anglican Council for Ecumenism
Anglican Diocese of Auckland
Anglican Diocese of Christchurch
Anglican Diocese of Dunedin
Anglican Diocese of Waiapu
Anglican Parish of Gate Pa
Anglican Parish of Otago Peninsula
Auckland Hebrew Congregation
Auckland Interfaith Council
Beth Shalom: The Progressive Jewish Community of Auckland
Canterbury Hebrew Congregation
Dunedin Abrahamic Group
Dunedin Jewish Congregation
Dunedin Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends
EarthDiverse
Ecology Justice and Peace Commission, [Catholic] Archdiocese of Wellington
Ephesus Group, Wellington
Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand
He Whenua Taurikura Trust
Humanity Matters
Holocaust Centre of New Zealand
Jewish Professionals of Wellington
Justice, Peace, and Development Group, Otari Catholic Parish
Lady Khadija Trust
New Zealand Jewish Council
Pearl of the Islands Foundation
Religious Diversity Centre Aotearoa New Zealand
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Aotearoa New Zealand, Te Hāhi Tūhauwiri
Roadworn Upcyclers Inc
Sh’ma Koleinu – Alternative Jewish Voices (NZ)
Tāhono Inclusive Aotearoa
Tauranga Moana Interfaith Council
The Inayatiyya, Aotearoa NZ
The Starfish Collective
The Third Order Society of Saint Francis, Province of the Pacific
Union for Progressive Judaism
Wellington Progressive Jewish Congregation / Temple Sinai
Youth Leadership Council | Ngā Rangatahi o Māramatanga

And:

The Reverend Canon Katie Lawrence, Acting Dean and Canon Precentor, Wellington Cathedral of St Paul
Kereama Pene, Head Ratana Church Apostle for Akarana Tamaki Makaurau Takiwa
Lawrence Kimberley, former Dean of Christchurch, Anglican Diocese of Christchurch
Nicola Grundy, Methodist Synod Superintendent for the Lower North Island Region
Canon Peter Stuart, Anglican Diocese of Wellington
Dr Tom Noakes-Duncan, Lecturer and Academic Director, St John’s Theological College
Mayor Tory Whanau, Welliington

… as well as many other private individuals.

Public Seminar: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Religion (with audio)


Audio from this event is now available.

Dave Moskovitz (Jewish) – download, or listen here:

Petrus Simons (Christian) – download, or listen here:

Harisu Shehu (Muslim) – download, or listen here:

All welcome.

WhenWednesday 8 November 2023, 7:00 pm
WhereWellington Progressive Jewish Congregation / Temple Sinai
147 Ghuznee Street
Wellington
Speakers
Dave Moskovitz (Jewish)
Dave is the Jewish Co-chair of the Wellington Abrahamic Council, and a former President of Wellington’s Temple Sinai. He is software developer by trade, and is involved in a number of AI initiatives mainly in education. His honours thesis was on natural language interfaces to bibliographic databases.
Petrus Simons (Christian)
Petrus is a Lutheran member of the Roman Catholic – Lutheran Dialogue Commission, and wrote his PhD thesis on the impact of technicism and economism on agriculture.
Harisu Abdullahi Shehu (Muslim)
Harisu received a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from Victoria University of Wellington, with his research centered around emotion detection from patterns of facial movements and physiological changes. He is currently working as a Data Scientist with the Ministry of Social Development and an adjunct AI researcher with Victoria University of Wellington.

The recent rise of Artificial Intelligence has given people of faith some interesting questions to ponder including: What are our religions’ positions with regards to technology in general, and AI specifically? How could AI impact our religious beliefs and practices? Can a machine be conscious, or have a soul? How do we mitigate the potential threats that AI poses to humanity, to religion, and to God? 

Come along to this event to explore the ever-increasing impact of technology on our religions, and how we adapt in a post-AI age.

Tickets are mandatory to attend. Get your (free or koha) ticket at:
https://events.humanitix.com/artificial-intelligence-and-religion


Note that due to recent global events 😢, there will be security at the door, including bag checks and handheld metal detectors.

Public Seminar: Pilgrimages in our Abrahamic religions

The Wellington Abrahamic Council is pleased to invite you to a discussion on pilgrimages in our three Abrahamic religions.

WhenWednesday 30 August 2023, 7pm – 9pm
WhereGarden Room, St Peter’s Church
211 Willis St, Wellington
SpeakersProfessor Paul Morris (Jewish)
Joe Green (Christian)
Rehanna Ali (Muslim)

All welcome. Entry by koha.

Pilgrimages are spiritual and religious journeys to sacred places, that serve to renew faith and commitment. For Muslims, one of the five pillars of faith is the Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, and Jerusalem and the Holy Land is a place of pilgrimage for all three Abrahamic faiths.

Come along to this seminar to hear speakers from each of our traditions sharing from their personal experience and exploring the significance of pilgrimage in their respective traditions.

We’re interested in your personal perspectives of your journeys and experiences and pilgrims too. There will be an opportunity for everyone to share their views.

If you’d like to help us publicise this event you can download our attractive poster and put it up in your synagogue, church, or mosque.

Jewish Organ Music Recital

From Deutsch via Lewandowski to Würzburger – A recital of 19th and 20th century German Jewish organ music, with recitalist Dianne Halliday

Monday 21 August 2023 at 7:30pm
Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, Molesworth Street

All Welcome.

Dianne Halliday

The use of a pipe organ in Jewish temples and synagogues to enhance and assist services by accompanying singing or enhancing ambience is a controversial matter both within and across the various strands of Judaism. Australasian synagogues and temples have at various times used harmoniums, American reed organs, and electronic organs usually to accompany cantors, choirs or congregational singing. It is thought that the only pipe organ was to be found in Melbourne’s Temple Beth Israel in the 1960s. This was later replaced with a Rogers electronic organ. Here in Wellington the generic “harmonium” has been used in both Beth El and Temple Sinai.

In 1998 Rabbi John Levy who is associated with the founding of Wellington’s Temple Sinai, was instrumental in the release of a CD entitled The Musical Tradition of the Jewish Reform Congregation in Berlin. The CD was derived from a collection of 78rpm records recorded in Berlin circa 1930. Works by Louis Lewandowski (Berlin), Solomon Sulzer (Vienna) and even Franz Schubert are included. A pipe organ is used to accompany the singing.

In 19th century Germany the Jewish community were faced with a complex set of challenges. These included increasing secularisation, the influence of Enlightenment ideas, and the quest for Jewish integration into wider society. Reform Judaism emerged as a response to the challenges. German Reform Judaism sought to modernize contemporary Jewish worship by including elements from Protestant Christianity, including the use of the pipe organ. From about 1830 until finally extinguished in 1938 by Night of the Broken Glass there was a thriving German Reform Judaism organ building, organ playing and composing culture within German Reform Judaism. This culture had enormous influence on Reform Judaism in the United States, other parts of Europe and elsewhere.

The organ has been used in the Western Christian church for many centuries. The instrument and the institution are highly linked in the public mind. Musicians tend to consider the organ as a “Christian” instrument simply because churches are generally where the instrument is to be found. That is unless you live in a city such as Wellington with a large Town Hall or school of music where “secular” instruments may be found. Much of the music played in secular organ recitals has a Christian basis using liturgical melodies whether they be hymn tunes, plainsong or more current song-forms.

Jewish organ music often uses traditional Jewish chants primarily passed down through oral tradition in the same way. This creates interesting notational and interpretational issues for both composer and performer as cantillations are often highly ornamented and rhythmically flexible. Folk tunes such as those used in Klezmer music are easier to deal with.

The forthcoming August recital will demonstrate the organ compositions of Jewish composers written for liturgical use rather than secular concert recitals. All bar one of the composers (William Bolcom (1938 -)) are German born. They include Moritz Deutsch (1818-1892), Louis Lewandowski (1821-1894), Siegfried Würzburger (1877-1942) and Ludwig Altman (1910-1990).

The recital is jointly supported by the Wellington Abrahamic Council and Wellington Organists’ Association. Admission is free but donations are welcome to help defray expenses. The recitalist has waived a professional fee.

Peacenic 2023 – An Abrahamic picnic for peace

Join us for the fourth Wellington Peacenic, a picnic for peace!
Where: Trentham Memorial Park, Upper Hutt
When: Sunday 12 February 2023 2pm-5pm

We’ll get together with our Jewish, Christian, and Muslim friends, share some food, enjoy conversation, play some games, and make new friends.

Peacenic began in Auckland in 2016. It grew out of a desire to replace the polarising bad-news stories that dominate the media with real experiences of hospitality and friendship in our own backyard. The simplest gift of sharing time and food is rewarding in itself but goes beyond that to offer a glimpse of the world as it could be. In our increasingly multi-religious, multi-ethnic community, we want to help build bridges across the divisions that have historically separated Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Trentham Memorial Park is just half an hour’s drive from Wellington CBD (put ‘43 Brentwood Street’ into Maps). Bring food to share but be sensitive to other faiths’ dietary requirements; ask if you are not sure. Please take rubbish away with you. Invite friends of other faiths, consider car pooling…and enjoy yourself!

For further info, contact David Blocksidge on 021 054 8443.

You can also download our flyer if you’d like to invite others from your faith community or post it in your church, mosque, or synagogue.

Public Seminar: Social Media and Mental Health – an Abrahamic perspective (now with audio)


Audio from this event is now available!

Abi Buchhalter (Jewish) – download, or listen here:

Kitty McKinley (Christian) – download, or listen here:

Rafat Najm (Muslim) – download, or listen here:


The Wellington Abrahamic Council is pleased to invite you to an event which explores religious perspectives on dealing with the mental health implications of social media.

WhenWednesday 28 September, 7pm
WhereSalvation Army Newtown Centre
4 Normanby St, Newtown
SpeakersAbi Buchhalter – Youth Counsellor (Jewish)
Kitty McKinley – Founder, Challenge 2000 (Christian)
Rafat Najm – Chaplain, AUT Mosque (Muslim)

Free event, all welcome, no RSVP necessary. If you are able, please bring a can or two of food which will reach people in need via DCM.

What is so much time on devices doing to our young people?

Research from America has worrying implications for New Zealand parents. It shows that since 2010, adolescents have been spending more and more time on their devices. It is believed this may account for significant increases in depression and suicide that we are seeing in our young people, especially girls.

In contrast, the research shows that youngsters who spend more time on non-screen activities are less likely to have mental health issues.

Come to this seminar to hear approaches this problem from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim speakers.

How do we prepare our youngsters for an increasingly digital world? What skills could we give them to make their use of tech a positive experience? How do we help them deal with the negative stuff? And what can our religions offer?

There will be a Q&A session, tea and biscuits, and plenty of time for discussion. We look forward to seeing you there!

You can help us with publicity by inviting your friends to come along to this event with you or downloading our attractive flyer, printing it out, and posting it in your place of worship.

For more information, contact Dave Moskovitz, dave@abrahamic.nz, 027 220 2202

Abrahamic Meditation Day 2022

Meditation Day
Sunday 14 August 2022 1:30-4:30pm
Temple Sinai, 147 Ghuznee St, Wellington

Come join us for a day of meditation drawing from our shared spiritual kaupapa as Jews, Christians and Muslims. Rabbi JoEllen Duckor will take us through a programme of silence, meditation, and shared reflection, bringing us together into places of shared faith and respect for the precious things we hold in common.

Entry by koha – tickets essential due to limited space.
Get your ticket at: https://abrahamic-meditation-2022.eventbrite.com 

You can also download our poster if you’d like to share with your friends.

For more information, contact Dave Moskovitz 027 220 2202 

The Calling of Moses – Ann Desmond

The following is a reflection by Abrahamic Council member Ann Desmond, given at our Council Meeting in May 2022.

The calling of Moses in Exodus, Chapters 3 and 4 is one of the most striking passages and important moments in the Biblical Story and is common to each of our Abrahamic faiths.

God appears to Moses at the burning bush. It is a holy moment. God reveals his mission, to rescue the Hebrew people out of Egypt. This is a wondrous moment … until, that is, God reveals that he wants to send Moses to implement and share in this deliverance.

That is when the excuses start. Moses contends that he could not possibly be the right person. We would find it comical if it were not so painfully close to home for so many. How many times have we used similar excuses before God, rationalising that the Almighty has somehow got it wrong?

In the middle of this discussion, God asks Moses a very important question: ‘What is in your hand?’ Moses’ shepherd’s staff is in his hand. It is a symbol of his gifts, his skills, his occupation, how he spends his time.

In our imagination we can picture Moses getting up each morning and walking with that staff as he shepherds the sheep under his care. At this point he may have been doing this for forty years The staff, in one sense is a symbol of what Moses can do, what he can uniquely offer.

Might we ask the same question of ourselves: What is in our hand?
What is it that we can do or offer?

The interesting thing is that God next asks Moses to give him the stick, to hand it over, surrender it by casting it on to the ground. On the ground, in front of the burning bush it is now in the hands of God. It turns into a snake. God invites Moses then to pick the snake up by the tail, and it returns to being a stick.

What can we learn from this? Here are a few thoughts that might be useful to think about in terms of God’s call on our lives. Firstly, God is as much on mission today as he was in the day of Moses, and still invites the ordinary people of this world to surrender who they are and what they can do – to place all into his hand.

Secondly, it is our availability and not our ability that matters. In fact, when we think we can carry out God’s plan on our own, when we rely on our own ability, we miss out on so much of what might be possible through partnering with God.

Thirdly, when you do answer the call, it is amazing what God can do with it. Using our imaginations once again can we see that staff in Moses’ hand as he makes his way to connect with his brother? Perhaps it is in his hand as he walks into the presence of Pharaoh and says, “Let my people go!”

Perhaps it is in his hand as those plagues are enacted, or as he embarks in leadership of the people in their Exodus from Egypt. Was it in his hand when the sea was parted? We’re told that he struck a rock and water came from it. Did he carry it to help him climb Sinai to collect the tablets of stone inscribed with the law? Did he have it in his hand when he took in the view of the promised land just before his death?

A friend, who is a retired Presbyterian Moderator and Minister, was on a retreat many years ago at one of those beautiful retreat places where there was lots of country path and native trees, but also some, deciduous trees. She was out walking, contemplating, and enjoying nature, and took a turn around a corner. She was absolutely struck by a bright red maple with the sun shining on it.

She cried out, ”God, you’re amazing. Look at your beauty”!

And she felt something like electricity going through her. When relating this to her spiritual director, she was asked to re-read the story of Moses and the Burning Bush to see if God was saying something to her. And of course that’s the call of Moses to free the slaves.

And as she prayed into it, something that had been very slowly, but at the bottom of her gut, began to come up and it was a new call on her life.

I wonder how many of us have had Burning Bush moments – might not necessarily have been a Burning Bush, but that deep sense that one minute your life’s going this way and the next minute you are turned around and you know that there’s a call on your life, which is maybe very different.

The point is simple: you have no idea or control over what God has planned for you, when he calls on you.

Refs
The Methodist Church, UK,
Keynote Speaker, GA18, 5 Oct 2018, Very Rev Marg Schrader