Media Release: Wellington Jews, Christians, and Muslims denounce Charlie Hebdo killings

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Wellington Jews, Christians, and Muslims denounce Charlie Hebdo killings

Wellington Council of Christians and Jews
9 January 2015

Wellington Jews, Christians, and Muslims denounce the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris as an attack on the basic freedoms which enable us to practice our religions and coexist in a democratic society.

A prayer vigil will be held at the Kilbirnie Islamic Centre this Sunday 11 January at 3pm. All are welcome.

Wellington Council of Christians and Jews Jewish Co-Chair Dave Moskovitz said “Charlie Hebdo had published material that was deeply offensive to each of our religions. However, each of our religions holds life sacred, and there is no possible excuse for killing someone for something they have said or written.”

Christian Co-Chair Rev Jenny Chalmers said “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of all of the people involved. We urge France and the world to ‘turn the other cheek’, and not allow extremism to silence the voice of freedom.”

WCCJ Muslim member Sultan Eusoff added “New Zealand Muslims were greatly dismayed by the killings, which we view as counter to the teachings of the Koran. We must not allow the acts of extremists to define our religions, or sully the excellent relationships we have in New Zealand with other religions and wider society.”

ENDS

Dave Moskovitz 027 220 2202
Rev Jenny Chalmers 021 311 952
Sultan Eusoff 021 786 262

Euthanasia Seminar Audio

The Council held a public seminar on Wednesday 22 October 2014 looking at the views of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths on euthanasia.

The three speakers were:

  • Dr John Kleinsman, Director, Nathaniel [Cathoilic] Centre for Bioethics
  • Dr Khalid Sandhu, Muslim Physician and
  • Yitzchak Mizrahi, Rabbi, Wellington Jewish Community Centre

Dr Sinead Donnelly, a palliative care specialist at Wellington Hospital also participated in the Q&A after the talks.

The main questions posed to the speakers were:

  • Are there situations in which ending the suffering of a sick person can be justified?
  • Can euthanasia be safely implemented?
  • Should people who wish to die be forced to stay alive?

Listen to or download Dr Kleinsman’s talk:

Listen to or download Dr Sandhu’s talk:

Listen to or download Rabbi Mizrahi’s talk:

Jews, Muslims, and Christians United in Call for Peace

NZ Jews, Christians, and Muslims United in Call for Peace

MEDIA RELEASE
Wellington, 23 July 2014

Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders in Wellington issued a joint statement today regarding the current conflict in Gaza and Israel:

“We call upon all of the parties involved in the current conflict in Gaza and Israel to cease hostilities, and sit down at the negotiating table and do the hard work necessary to obtain a just and lasting peace. We urge all New Zealand Jews, Christians, and Muslims to pray for peace.”

Dave Moskovitz, Jewish Co-Chair, Wellington Council of Christians and Jews
Jenny Chalmers, Christian Co-Chair, Wellington Council of Christians and Jews
Sultan Eusoff, CEO, Federation of Islamic Association of New Zealand

Our core beliefs – Wednesday 5 December 2012

The Wellington Council of Christians and Jews Presents:

A Public Sacred Text Study – Our Core Beliefs
Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives

Wednesday 5 December 2012 at 7.30pm
Temple Sinai, 147 Ghuznee St, Wellington
Entry by koha, all are welcome

Speakers

  • Rabbi Adi Cohen – Jewish – Wellington Progressive Jewish Congregation
  • Vanessa Borg – Christian – Catholic lay person, Wellington Focolare movement
  • Rehanna Ali – Muslim – Wellington Masjid

Come along and hear perspectives on the core beliefs of the three Abrahamic religions, using original texts from the Torah, the New Testament, and the Koran.

The three talks will be followed by a panel discussion and light refreshments.

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

You can download the flyer download the flyer to print off and circulate.

 

NZCCJ Conference 2012: The twelve points of Berlin

The Wellington Council of Christians and Jews is pleased to be hosting the NZCCJ 2012 conference, which aims to develop a regional (New Zealand and Australia) approach to the Twelve Points of Berlin.

The Conference will be held 12-15 May at the Wellington Jewish Community Centre, 80 Webb St, Wellington.  We’re pleased that Dr Deborah Weissman, the President of the International Council of Christians and Jews will be attending the conference, along with a number of learned guest speakers from Australia and New Zealand.

Full details of the conference are available on the conference web page.  Tickets can be purchased on line at our ticketing site.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Audio: Activating the Charter for Compassion

The Wellington Council of Christians and Jews held its public symposium on “Activating the Charter for Compassion in our Religions and Wider Society” on Wednesday 13 July 2011 at the Kilbirnie Mosque.

Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion launched just over a year ago, and has received tremendous support globally. A simple document of 300 words, it reaffirms the “golden rule” – that we should treat other people as we would like to be treated – and expands this into the basis for building a compassionate world based on justice, equity, respect, nonviolence, diversity, and ultimately to enlightenment, a just economy, and a peaceful global community.

Three speakers were invited to address the audience on their perspectives from their own religious traditions on the charter.  Below you’ll find audio recordings of the addresses, and summaries of the key points.

Rabbi Adi CohenWellington Progressive Jewish Congregation
Recently arrived from Congregation Brit Olam in Israel where he was the congregational rabbi, Adi has taught courses in Jewish Law and Ethics, special education, and worked as a storyteller.

Listen to or download the audio:

Summary:

  • The Jewish ethos starts not with heroism and bravery, but rather with the story of an enslaved people rebuilding their identity, nationality and religion. We are also commanded that there is one law for the Jews and the people living among them.  The take-out from this is that we are all human.
  • We know that we are not perfect – one day a year, Yom Kippur, we ask God to forgive us, but we have forty days during the year when we stand in front of our fellow people to ask them for forgiveness.  And every minute, every hour, we must face ourselves.
  • A different perspective is given to us by Martin Luther King’s civil rights march at Selma. Next to him was Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, walking with a Torah scroll in his hands.  When asked, “What does a Jewish rabbi have to do in an Afro-American protest?”  Heschel responded, “Today, we are praying with our legs”.  We were once slaves, and we cannot take freedom for granted.  We pay our price for freedom by standing up for the rights of others who are oppressed.
  • In the Jewish world, we do not pray for evil people to perish from the earth, we pray for evil deeds to perish from the earth.
  • In our tradition, there are many lists which tell us how to be a good person.  One is in Micah [6:8], “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God”.  There are many other lists, but none of these lists talk about worshipping, praying, holidays, or how we practice our religion.  All of them talk about the way we treat each other.  These are the deeds which we take from this world to the world to come.
  • Each day we wake up and we pray that we are grateful for what we have.  Each person comes to this world with a mission to do something, to heal something, but we don’t know what it is.  So we need to do everything to the best of our abilities.  “It is not for you to complete the work, nor are you free to desist from it.”  Be being compassionate, and doing what we’re expected to do, together among all religions we can change the world a bit at a time.

Nick Borthwick and Daniel EyreNZ Catholic Bishops committee for Interfaith Relations
Daniel has a double degree in law and theology, and Nick works for Caritas, the Catholic agency for justice, peace and development.

Listen to or download the audio:

Summary:

  • The Charter transcends religious, ideological, and national difference, and activates the Golden Rule.  In Christianity, the Golden Rule is embodied in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
  • God sent Jesus to feel our suffering with us. He shows compassion to enemies and recognises the good in their hearts.  All people can be compassionate, and have goodness, and one day the person you mistrust might be the person who saves you.
  • The charter tries to activate the following principles within us:
    • That no one is unworthy of compassion
    • Everyone has compassion in their hearts regardless of their nationality or faith
    • There is a selflessness in compassion that transcends any boundaries
  • It is important to acknowledge, treasure, and learn from the steps that have already been taken toward making compassion the heart of our religious experiences, eg the works of Suzanne Aubert’s Sisters of Compassion
  • The Charter asks us to acknowledge that “we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.”  The Catholic Church acknowledges the failure of the church through the ages, and specific apologies and requests for forgiveness have been made for the role of the Catholics in slavery in Africa, the Spanish conquest of Latin America, the Holocaust, and local relations with indigenous peoples.
  • Interfaith activities are an important way to reinforce the principles of the charter, sharing meals and getting to know each other, and standing in solidarity in the face of injustice.  It is especially important to help educate our co-religionists about other faiths and the legitimacy of their faith and practice.
  • Compassion must begin with us within our own communities.  We must reclaim compassion from institutions.
  • The criminal justice system is ripe with opportunities for us to show greater compassion to both perpetrators and victims.  We should look to restorative justice as a better model.

Aarif RasheedThe Centre for Interfaith Dialogue and Education (Auckland)
CIDE’s vision is to encourage “all community groups and individuals to participate in sincere and respectful discourse and dialogue and the inculcation in them of mutual respect and love towards other people.” In addition to his work at CIDE, Aarif is a Referee at the Disputes Tribunal, a Trustee at the Rasheed Memorial Trust, and an active member of Auckland’s Muslim community.

Listen to or download the audio:

Summary:

  • The starting point for all projects in our respective communities should be universality and a common textual reference, that textual reference being the charter
  • We must look beyond servicing our own communities exclusively
  • As humans we are created to learn from each other, for the benefit of human civilisation, not just from our own selves or or own community
  • There is a concerted effort needed to revive the concept of properness in manners, behaviour, courtesy, and compassion in the interpersonal sense
  • The other key area for work is care of children and the elderly.  Today’s rat race is not conducive to neighbourly relations.  We should be applying the principles of our faiths, rather than being enslaved by particular interpretations.
  • We must not think from the perspective of our own communities, but rather from the perspective of humanity.  Our articulation needs to be grounded in the local needs of our own neighbourhood, and should use the Charter as a universal and tangible reference point.
  • The Charter tests our ability to apply the principles of our faith using a document reference point that has no religious authority.  It tests our loyalty to the good, rather than to a religious group… that does not mean ignoring or diluting our religion, but it does test our sincerity and dedication to good.  Our quest for good is ultimately a quest for God.
  • The Charter does not intend to dilute religion, but perhaps to leave behind some of the baggage rightly or wrongly associated with religion in the interests of improving the overall human situation.  It is a truly universal reference document that takes us well beyond our faiths.
  • None of the faith groups has an exclusive monopolistic claim to compassion, it is a universal human value; it forms part of the innate goodness of every human being.  According to the Islamic prophetic tradition, “All creatures are all God’s children, and the best of you are those who are best to His children.”
  • The journey to God is really about the journey of purification of one’s soul.  In God’s presence, only purity presents itself.  “Be firm, steadfast and balanced; know that your actions alone will not be the cause of your entry to Paradise, and that the most beloved actions to Allah are those that are done continuously and persistently even if they be few.”  The good deed is an affirmation of God rather than one’s self.
  • Focussing on God as the ultimate end allows us to use all means possible to reaching him, whether they be articulated in the texts of our faith or in a different way.
  • Mercy is for all, and not just those who are followers or believers.
  • We will appreciate our faiths through the articulation of these great virtues even more.
  • This is about challenging our communities to self-critique our motivations.  As an interfaith activity, the Charter gives us a chance to affirm something rather than look for the lowest common denominator, a common criticism of  interfaith.
  • In the end, we are calling people towards good; that is the proselytisation that we need not be ashamed of.
  • So the key question is: How do we better articulate principles which honour and activate the Charter while as much as possible honouring and not distracting ourselves in any way from the focus on our respective faiths?

 

Activating the Charter for Compassion in our religions and wider society – Public Symposium on Wednesday 13 July 2011

The Wellington Council of Christians and Jews Presents a Public Symposium on

Activating the Charter for Compassion in our religions and wider society

Wednesday 13 July 2011 at 7.30pm
Wellington Islamic Centre / Masjid
7-11 Queens Drive, Kilbirnie

Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion launched just over a year ago, and has received tremendous support globally. A simple document of 300 words, it reaffirms the “golden rule” – that we should treat other people as we would like to be treated – and expands this into the basis for building a compassionate world based on justice, equity, respect, nonviolence, diversity, and ultimately to enlightenment, a just economy, and a peaceful global community. This symposium will examine how we can translate these thoughts into action.

Speakers:

Aarif Rasheed – CIDE – The Centre for Interfaith Dialogue and Education (Auckland)
CIDE’s vision is to encourage “all community groups and individuals to participate in sincere and respectful discourse and dialogue and the inculcation in them of mutual respect and love towards other people.” In addition to his work at CIDE, Aarif is a Referee at the Disputes Tribunal, a Trustee at the Rasheed Memorial Trust, and an active member of Auckland’s Muslim community.

Rabbi Adi CohenWellington Progressive Jewish Congregation
Recently arrived from Congregation Brit Olam in Israel where he was the congregational rabbi, Adi has taught courses in Jewish Law and Ethics, special education, and worked as a storyteller.

Nick Borthwick and Daniel EyreNZ Catholic Bishops committee for Interfaith Relations
Daniel has a double degree in law and theology, and Nick works for Caritas, the Catholic agency for justice, peace and development.

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

Download the flyer

Massah 30 Now Online – Rosen, Pawlikowski on Christian Jewish Relations, Binding of Isaac

The Summer 2011 issue of Massah is now online and available for download, with articles including:

  • Fr John T. Pawlikowski: The State of the Global Christian-Jewish Dialogue: Some Reflections
  • Rabbi David Rosen: Progress in Jewish-Church Relations
  • Wellington Interfaith Akedah Study
  • Deborah Sheridan: Planning Holy Week?
  • Book reviews
  • Report from the First National NZ CCJ Conference
  • News and Notes

Download the issue

Audio: Abraham, Isaac, and Ishmael – perspectives from three faiths

The Wellington Council of Christians and Jews held a public meeting on Wednesday 20 October 2010 on Abraham’s challenge from God to sacrifice his son from Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives. The event was very well attended with over 120 people from all backgrounds in the audience.


The newly appointed rabbi at the Wellington Hebrew Congregation, Rabbi David Alima spoke about the revolutionary nature of the event, in that up until that time human sacrifice was common, While God was testing Abraham’s faith, whether his commitment to God was so strong that he would even be willing to sacrifice his son, once that commitment had been demonstrated, people would no longer be requested to sacrifice other people. We can “sacrifice” ourselves to God for our religion, but life is sacred and we can’t kill ourselves or other people for our religion.

Listen to or download Rabbi David Alima’s talk:


The Reverand Jenny Chalmers took us through the Christian perspective on the “multilayered sharply paradoxical story with many meanings and symbols”. On one level it is about the development of our moral and ethical framework. On another level, Abraham was rewarded for obeying God unconditionally with the life of his son, and becoming the “father of faith”. The binding of Isaac informs Christian thinking, showing that faith and work are inseperable, and there are parallels between Abraham offering to sacrifice his son, and God offering to sacrifice his own son.

Listen to or download Rev Jenny Chalmer’s talk:


Hazret Adam from the Wellington Islamic Centre explained that in the Koran, the name of the son that Abraham is told to sacrifice is not mentioned, however in Muslim tradition, it is not Isaac but rather Ishamel that is offered for sacrifice. Many of the events surrounding the Hajj, or annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca are centred around the events of this story. Instead of sacrificing his son, Abraham is shown a lamb to sacrifice in his stead, which is re-enacted in the Hajj. The sacrifice of the lamb represents our sacrificing our animal instincts, that come as a boundary to our service to God, to our submission to God.

Listen to or download Hazret Adam’s talk:


During the panel discussion, the question was asked “Given that God is omniscient and omnipotent, why does he bother testing us when He already knows the outcome?”. All three panellists agreed that when we are tested, the test is to teach us how to extend our own limitations, for our benefit rather than God’s.

In all it was a very interesting evening, with many fascinating discussions following the formal part of the evening over a cup of tea.

The next public meeting of the Council of Christians and Jews will take place early next year, and will focus on Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion.

The Binding of Isaac / Ishmael – Wednesday 20 October 7.30pm

The Wellington Council of Christians and Jews Presents
A Public Sacred Text Study

The Binding of Isaac / Ishmael: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Perspectives

Wednesday 20 October 2010 at 7.30pm
Myers Hall, Wellington Jewish Community Centre
80 Webb St, Wellington
Entry by koha, all are welcome

Speakers:

  • Rabbi David Alima – Orthodox Rabbi, Wellington Hebrew Congregation
  • Rev Jenny Chalmers – Anglican Priest, St Marks Carterton; WCCJ Co-Chair
  • Sheikh Mohammed Amir – Imam, Wellington Islamic Centre

The binding of Isaac (in the Jewish and Christian traditions) or Ishmael (in the Islamic tradition) is a turning point in each of our religions, with fascinating similarities and differences in interpretation between the three Abrahamic faiths.  Come find out more about the ongoing impact of this pivotal event over 3,000 years ago.

The three talks will be followed by an panel discussion.

For more information, contact Dave Moskovitz, 027 220 2202

Download the flyer