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JCCV Launches Interfaith Guidelines

JCCV Launches Interfaith Guidelines

27 July 2010

JCCV President, John Searle's speech to Guests at the Launch of the JCCV Interfaith Guidelines

Welcome, shalom and thank you very much for attending the launch of our Interfaith Guidelines.  Can I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of this land and pay tribute to their elders, past and present.

I would like to formally welcome the honourable James Merlino, MP, Minister assisting the Premier for Multicultural Affairs/Minister for Sport. I convey apologies fromTony Lupton MP, Mr George Lekakis AO, Chairman of the VMC and  Commander Ashley Dickinson.

Can I also say that it is heart-warming to see so many friends of the Jewish community here from such a wide and diverse range of backgrounds and I welcome all of you.

This is a very significant event, not only for the JCCV, not only for the Victorian Jewish community but for the many varied and diverse communities with whom we interact. That is why it is so wonderful to see you all here this evening. It is appropriate that you are all here for the launch of this document because this document is all about further improving the dialogue and relationships between us all as Victorians.

What the Jewish community and the JCCV in particular is saying with the launch of this document is that we take interfaith activities and interfaith dialogue very seriously. We know that Victoria comprises a huge number of different religious, cultural and ethnic communities and it is imperative that there are not only strong lines of communication between us all but also growing bonds of friendship.

There is no doubt that there are times when interfaith dialogue can be tricky, possibly even treacherous. The one thing we do not want to do is allow an interfaith dialogue to take relationships between different communities backwards. The main concern we had in the development of this strategy is that people within our community who are engaged in interfaith dialogue  give some thought to the people with whom  they are having the dialogue, the reasons for having the dialogue, the subjects that should (or should not be) touched upon, the parameters of the dialogue and the way in which the dialogue should be conducted.

My view, for what it is worth, is that interfaith dialogue is not generally a political discussion between different communities who may have political differences. More often than not, it is this discussion of political differences that will alienate, divide and possibly even anger groups. Rather, there is so very much that we as Victorians all have in common upon which we should be focusing our interfaith dialogue. We should be looking at the areas that bring us together, the concerns that we jointly share so we can work together. In this way we can strengthen our own communities and all of Victoria. Be they issues relating to our youth, issues relating to discrimination, environment or the like, there is certainly much to discuss which can bring us together and develop strong bonds of friendship rather than focusing on what is likely to divide us.

Indeed, after the strong bonds of friendship and trust have been fully developed, we may better be able to understand and then possibly discuss some of the political differences that up untilnow  have been so problematic.

So, in developing these guidelines we kept these principles in mind. We are making suggestions to the Victorian Jewish community as to how they can ensure that all interfaith dialogue is mutually beneficial. In this way, we should all benefit from the ongoing and hopefully increasing interfaith dialogue.

As many of you probably realise, the JCCV as the peak body of Victorian Jewry has 56 affiliate organisations. Yet there are also many organisations in our community that are not yet  affiliated to us. Our plan is to widely disseminate the guidelines within our community and hope they prove beneficial. Certainly, I would welcome any feedback in relation to the guidelines.

I am not going to speak at length about how the guidelines were developed; rather I will shortly introduce Adam Goodvach to expand upon that process a little bit more.  Clearly, when you hear from him, you will appreciate that the JCCV took the development of these guidelines very seriously.

I would like to thank Adam in particular, as well as everybody else in our community who contributed to the development of the guidelines. I particularly thank the Minister, James Merlino for taking the time to discuss the guidelines with me and George Lekakis, Chairman of the VMC for his valuable input.

 

 

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