Rosh Hashana: an invitation to our deep purpose
Published: September 20, 2017. Author: Melanie Landau. Themes: Spirituality.
This sweetness is embodied through our tradition of eating apple with honey. Tasting the sweetness of creation. Sometimes some of us have more easy access to the sweetness because of privilege. Even with privilege, sometimes we need to do work to get to the sweetness. Sometimes we need to chew and chew our experiences until we can extract the sweetness from them.
Equal partners: social justice insights from the Orthodox partnership minyan movement
Published: August 25, 2017. Author: Dr Gávi Ansara. Themes: Social Justice.
Founded initially as spaces for feminist, inclusive Orthodox communal prayer, the partnership minyan movement has evolved to address broader social justice concerns through a combination of community building and activism. Partnership minyanim now attract a diverse range of people, from those who have found formal prayer services alienating to those seeking a comfortable place to pray without having to stay silent about their commitment to social justice.
Published: May 1, 2017. Author: Jo-Anne Hurwitz. Themes: Indigenous Reconciliation.
We often hear the term reconciliation used to mean both the method and the endpoint of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but what does it really mean? While its framework has evolved over time, the Australian government most recently defined reconciliation as “an ongoing process of acknowledgement of the past and a commitment to move forward together.”
The things we carry
Published: April 7, 2017. Author: Brie Shroot. Themes: Refugees.
While we laugh at Uncle J saying that he brought along his iPhone and charger when he left slavery 3000 years ago, these days the most important item people carry with them is just that. With a smartphone, people seeking asylum can stay in touch with family who are scattered across the globe. A phone can be used to plan safe routes, to know where violence has broken out, to search for help desperately needed.
Sharing our freedom
Published: April 4, 2017. Author: George Newhouse. Themes: Asylum seekers.
From our point of view, the story of slavery in Egypt is relatively straightforward. We suffered, then G-d freed us. However, suppose we were not Jews. Suppose we were Egyptians. Would we have extended a hand in solidarity to the Jews? Or would we have avoided thinking too hard about those who toiled to build our wonderful civilisation, and how our lives happened to be so privileged while others around us suffered?
The Menorah: An ancient symbol of tolerance
Published: December 16, 2016. Author: Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton. Themes: Social Justice.
The fusion of Roman and Jewish, without religious surrender, symbolised by the Menorah, can be a model for a better approach to different communities living alongside one another in contemporary societies. Our first attempt at multiculturalism is widely seen as a failure. It created separation and ghettos, and has helped with the rise of some of the violent extremism we are enduring and trying to combat. There has too much emphasis on difference and not on commonality, too much on distinctions and not enough on shared values.
Dignity, Dialogue and Donald Trump
Published: November 18, 2016. Author: Rabbi Zalman Kastel. Themes: Politics.
Herein lies the one lesson of hope from an otherwise draining election: We must employ a radical empathy and understanding to all those who we encounter, regardless of divergent ideologies. Indeed, Leviticus instructs that “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk.” Thus, despite the hate-filled rhetoric from Donald Trump and his supporters, that has served to embolden hate, and the hostility from city folk toward rural people, now is the time to move past that mood and embrace dialogue over division.
Tokens of Equality: Why Hillary Clinton Won’t Beat Sexism At The Ballot-Box
Published: November 4, 2016. Author: Alice Chipkin. Themes: Politics, Young Voices.
Don’t get me wrong, seeing more women in positions of political power warms my insides and momentarily softens my feminist hackles. But sexism can never be defeated at the ballot-box alone. It takes consistent and deeper work than that, and requires those who benefit from a patriarchal system to become part of the effort to dismantle it.
Is your money funding climate change?
Published: July 27, 2016. Author: Pablo Brait. Themes: Climate Change, Ethical living.
When I found out, relatively recently, that my bank and super fund were using my money to fund activities that worsen climate change, this was a blow at two levels. First of all, there was the issue of my personal finances contributing to a problem I was working to solve. Secondly it became very clear just how unaccountable our financial institutions were. We hand over our money to these corporations and they do what they like with it, without input from us. And when I started asking questions about where my money was invested I got the typical spin and obfuscation rather than straight answers.
What I learnt about democracy from Australia’s longest election campaign
Published: June 30, 2016. Author: Ittay Flescher. Themes: Politics.
After eight weeks of relentless campaigning, debates, information and misinformation, it seems as though the polls are at the same place they were when we started, and that very few Australians have changed their minds regarding who is most suited to lead the country. If anyone does remember this election campaign in the future, in will be marked by two stories.
Change is in the Air
Published: December 12, 2015. Author: Tammy Taylor. Themes: Climate Change.
Social exclusion has many causes, but as climate change progresses it will have an increasing impact on the vulnerable. Sea level rises will lead to the disappearance of small island states, including many of our ‘neighbours’ in the Pacific, such as Kiribati and Tuvalu. Will Australia be prepared to take in the resulting climate refugees? Temperature increases and changes in rainfall will reduce crop yields especially in hot, dry regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. And at home here, in Victoria, we can expect further devastating bushfires and severe weather events.
We are as strong as our ideas
Published: November 20, 2015. Author: Rabbi Ralph Genende. Themes: Middle East, Politics.
At times like this when the world seems to be falling apart, when fear stalks our most cosmopolitan cities and anxiety runs the gauntlet from Moscow to Melbourne, Hanover to Jerusalem, Mumbai to Mogadishu, it’s easy to fall back on anger and bigotry. It’s however precisely at times like these we need to dig deep, to reach into our souls and find the composure, courage and compassion that we need. Terrorism succeeds when it distorts our judgement, when it makes us smaller and meaner
Donate Your Dabble
Published: November 4, 2015. Author: Liam Getreu. Themes: Animals, Ethical living.
I’ve always been uncomfortable with horse racing. It’s undeniably fun – getting dressed up, having a flutter, being with friends, enjoying the crowds – but there’s definitely a darker side. Not only is problem gambling a major social issue in Australia, there’s also the matter of the welfare of the horses. The perils of the horse racing industry are very well documented. So instead of spending the $35 at the TAB on a series of bets that were as good as guesses, I gave that money to the RSPCA. Better to give that money to a charity that would go to helping animals than me donating it to a corporation when I inevitably lose the bet.
Thank you Adam Goodes
Published: September 30, 2015. Author: Jo Friedman. Themes: Indigenous Justice, Indigenous Reconciliation.
Adam Goodes will be remembered as a champion who never sought recognition for his accolades. Goodes knew he was retiring before his final game last Saturday night, and had he announced his intentions, he would have been chaired off the ground, surrounded by a guard of honour and a standing ovation by an adoring crowd. But Goodes chose to avoid the fanfare. In delaying the announcement until he was back in the rooms, Goodes exited quietly, with little drama, a humble champion.
Published: September 24, 2015. Author: Michael Shafar. Themes: Young Voices.
What I’ve learned from doing comedy is that failure is totally fine. In fact, it should be encouraged. Schools are constantly telling their students that they must succeed to be worthwhile, and it just causes young people to not take risks, to not pursue what makes them happy for fear of being labeled a ‘failure’
Malala and Australia: A Reflection on the Purpose of Education
Published: July 13, 2015. Author: Matti Borowski. Themes: Education, Ethical living.
Our children and students are growing up in an unprecedented age and world of materialism, self orientation and almost grotesque self aggrandisement where values are inverted such that the most debased are lauded and those of virtue are rarely given air time. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of our best and brightest are inexorably succumbing to the glitter of this world and are proving unsuccessful in acting on the educational imperatives and privileges that behoves them to do and be better.
Being Jewish and Gay
Published: June 2, 2015. Author: Wayne Green. Themes: homosexuality, Politics, Prejudice.
When I was in the closet, and my sexuality was hidden to the world, G-d was my only companion in that closet. My struggle therefore was a constant negotiation with G-d to understand why I was gay and what purpose my life had. The understanding that Judaism declares homosexuality as an ‘abomination’ was a constant daily struggle until I came out. So when I did come out of the closet to explore life as open gay man, my exploration as Jew now only existed in identity but no longer engagement.
6 ways mindfulness can make you a better entrepreneur
Published: May 1, 2015. Author: Dr Elise Bialylew. Themes: Entrepeneurship, International Development.
Our minds are our most precious resource; they are the source of happiness or depression, creativity or self-destruction, problem-solving or problem-making. It seems strange that we hardly take the time to care for what is our greatest asset. It's part of our culture to maintain physical fitness and vitality. We brush our teeth everyday to take care of our hygiene and external appearance. So what about our minds? Why not take time each day to look after our mind, to ensure it is functioning optimally?
The spirit of Israel flourishes at ground level
Published: April 21, 2015. Author: Melanie Koss. Themes: Middle East, Young Voices.
I now belong to a society that has a proud history of achievement, of a people that have long been instrincally attracted to making the impossible become possible. I am surrounded by pockets of brilliant minds ready for action, already in action, who are creating the spaces you should be watching (or, in my audacity, even joining). I am learning from those ‘deeply good’ people around me to keep gazing out to the landscape before us – perhaps with fear, but more than anything with optimism, enthusiasm and a blazing heart that will continue to propel us into action, to be as effective as we can in this world.
Published: April 1, 2015. Author: Kathy Kaplan OAM. Themes: Prejudice.
At Pesach we recognise that not only were we freed from but we were also freed to. We are called to not only remember those who are still not free - physically or otherwise – but to actually do something about it. If Pesach is to be more than just a meal we either enjoy or endure depending on our family’s dynamics, and if Pesach’s lessons are to resonate beyond our Seders, then we must not lose sight of the themes that Pesach incites in and for us. The struggle for freedom is ongoing. In every age, there are new freedoms to be won.
The Power of Words
Published: March 24, 2015. Author: Ben Scholl. Themes: Young Voices.
Throughout the course of this journey, I have come to understand that words are more than just tools to get what we want or need. Each word we send out into the world provides a message about who we are, what we believe and where we want to go. They are our swords and our shields. When used effectively, they can dramatically shape people’s perceptions of the world and provide a mechanism for change. Unfortunately today, it appears the significance we give to our words has greatly diminished.
The Eleventh Commandment
Published: March 15, 2015. Author: Lillian Kline. Themes: Parenting.
Exposing our children and teens to the social ills of the world at even the youngest ages in a sensitive and meaningful way has the exact opposite effect of their exposure to social media. It teaches them about what they do have, about the opportunities open to them by virtue of their socio-economic status, and about the advantages they have via their stable family and established community backgrounds.
The Closed Loop
Published: March 10, 2015. Author: Gideon Reisner. Themes: Politics.
So what did I learn at the Greens? I learnt about perspective. Watching and contributing to the innermost machinations of a political machine I finally understood how much is policy and how much is propaganda. I saw how we “play the game”. Now, as a young person, I look at politics differently. I crave substance, reason and honesty. I want informed opinion and to be treated with respect, without contempt. If we want politics to change, we need to strive for more. Before we hold our politicians to a higher standard, we need to raise our own.
A Social Conscience
Published: February 23, 2015. Author: Mia Kline. Themes: Young Voices.
When I think about that list I made – the second one about the things I don’t like in this world – I found that there was one common thread. All the things I hate – war, detention centres, child labour and homelessness – these are actually just examples of people only thinking about themselves. I’ve learnt that Tikkun Olam means to repair the world, and that this is a Jewish value. But when I think about all these bad things about the world that I don’t like, I get overwhelmed because I can’t solve them on my own, and I definitely can’t fix them overnight. But what we can do is start thinking about other people, rather than just ourselves.
Published: February 2, 2015. Author: Gabsy Debinski. Themes: Holocaust.
Hearing my Savta recount stories of unimaginable torment whilst under the sadistic ‘care’ of Dr. Joseph Mengele in the Auschwitz experimental barracks hurts every time just as much as it did the time before. Notwithstanding the sheer depth of the physical pain it caused her, it is equally gut-wrenching that it happened to her, Eva; a woman who radiates compassion and gentleness of spirit like no other. These stories of Savta’s trials and tribulations are as entrenched in our family’s genetic make-up as the cells that keep our blood pumping.
A Fulfilled Life
Published: December 3, 2014. Author: Dean Cohen. Themes: Disability.
It is a fundamental concern that as we strive to create an egalitarian society there are those who are not accorded the basic human right to live with dignity and to make choices about how they wish to live their lives. If Albert Camus argued that “life is a sum of all your choices,” what then for those, who are not granted an opportunity to choose? What then for the rest of us who live in a society where so many are not accorded equal opportunity to make decisions?
A Climate of Change
Published: November 18, 2014. Author: A/Prof. Grant Blashki. Themes: Climate Change.
We are for sure living through one of those critical turning point periods in human history. The scientists tell us that we really need to turn the ship around with regards to emissions of human greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 if we're going to have even a 50% chance of reducing warming to less than 2 degrees by 2050- they have termed this decade the critical decade when we as a global society will rise to or fail to meet this challenge. The recent major commitments by the US and China to serious emissions targets make Australia’s go it alone direct action approach seem pathetic, inadequate and frankly embarrassing as we host the G20 summit this year.
It’s Time to End Our Silence on Syria
Published: September 1, 2014. Author: Rabbi Nicole K. Roberts. Themes: Middle East, Politics, Refugees.
This sermon is a confession. It is a confession not only about the bee, but also about a much more grievous failure of which I am also ashamed. It is a confession about my failure to act fast and furiously to try and make a difference in the lives of a suffering people—the victims of one of the most horrifying, heart-wrenching, humanitarian catastrophes of my lifetime: the anguish of the civilians and desperate refugees of the Syrian civil war. I am ashamed that—largely because Syria is formally Israel’s enemy, a bee that has fatally stung Jews in the past and might do so again in the future—I did not cry out when it first came to my attention in 2012 that 11,000 refugees a day were fleeing the country.
Religion & sexuality: a matter of interpretation
Published: August 1, 2014. Author: Rebecca Forgasz. Themes: homosexuality.
Matters of religion and sexuality have come to the fore in public debate recently, as same-sex marriage has become a heated political issue, and discussions about same-sex parenting and transgender teenagers have taken place on prime-time television. In the context of these debates and discussions, religious leaders and those of strong religious conviction are often the ones representing the most conservative perspective, which can give the impression that religion has a monolithic and negative view on matters of queer sexuality. But the truth is that, even within religious communities, there is a great deal of scope for interpretation on these issues.
Mandela’s Legacy for Australia?
Published: February 1, 2014. Author: Melanie Schwartz. Themes: Indigenous Justice.
Mandela told the world on that day: 'It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It’s in your hands now.' The greatest honour we can pay the memory of Mandela, and the only path of integrity as Australians living on this land, is to stand up and become an advocate for change in our own contexts.
Will there always be outcasts?
Published: December 1, 2013. Author: Dr Leslie Cannold. Themes: Prejudice.
If the way we treat our fellow is reliant on quick and dirty character assessments like race, gender, age, language and accent – and our inclination to like and reward those whose superficial qualities are most like our own - how will a fair and equitable world be achieved?
Justice Is More Than Sandals
Published: November 1, 2013. Author: Ellyse Borghi. Themes: Ethical living.
Is social justice work a niche industry within our economy? Are social justice workers exclusively responsible for trading in equity and fairness? Are their careers ‘in rights’ while everybody else’s are ‘in services, production and finance’?
Faith, Development and Freedom
Published: October 1, 2013. Author: Dr Joel Negin. Themes: International Development.
Religious motivations must stop at the water’s edge. While religious values might drive our action, imposing those beliefs and, more importantly, tying them to our engagement with vulnerable communities, contradicts why we act in the first place.
Ignoring Sentience, Ignoring Self
Published: September 1, 2013. Author: Brian Sherman AM. Themes: Animals.
When I sit down on Friday evening for Shabbat dinner with my family I want to observe the traditions of my forefathers, but I don’t want those traditions to be realised with food which I know to have come from a place of suffering and inhumanity.
Democracy For The Taking
Published: July 28, 2013. Author: Ittay Flescher. Themes: Politics.
we have been bestowed a political system where the people, rather than the military or a dictator, ultimately decide how their country should be run. And what do we do with this incredible gift?
Published: July 1, 2013. Author: Arnold Zable. Themes: Asylum seekers, Refugees.
"...these asylum seekers would be isolated and destitute. And what is their ‘crime’? Doing for themselves and their families, what we would have done in their shoes, and what our own parents or grandparents did in the recent past."
What I Have Learned on My Reconcilliation Journey
Published: April 25, 2013. Author: Mark Leibler AC. Themes: Indigenous Land Rights, Indigenous Reconciliation.
...for the last 100 years Aboriginal people suffered the ultimate degradation: they were to be ignored because they were deemed irrelevant by Australia’s founding document. In the result, they were debased and dehumanised.