Volume 31 Issue 16 03 Jun 2022 4 Sivan 5782

I was wondering…

Be Brave: Make Change

Lisa Sarzin with Daphna Levin-Kahn

In line with Reconciliation Week this year, Year 11 was fortunate enough to welcome not only one but two members of our community to speak to us about not only their work with Indigenous people, but also how it relates to Jewish values, and why we should care. Justice Rothman and Dr Sarzin have both spent a decent part of their lives dedicated towards reaching true reconciliation with the Indigenous people of this country. Justice Rothman is an experienced lawyer and judge, who, until recently, chaired the Ngara Yura Committee of the NSW Judicial Commission, which liaises with the Aboriginal communities and seeks to educate judicial officers about issues particularly affecting the communities. Dr Sarzin co-authored Hand in Hand: Jewish and Indigenous people working together which documents collaborative initiatives between Jewish and First Nations people. She is the author of Stories for Simon, a picture book that has as its major theme the National Apology to the Stolen Generations.

They discussed a range of ideas, including the importance of acknowledging the Indigenous people as the original custodians of the land, and reflected on the importance of their stories and customs, and the way in which they were allowed to be shared and communicated. But perhaps the most interesting idea to come out of the talk was the similarities between Judaism and Indigenous culture. Both the speakers talked about how, while western society teaches history, Indigenous culture – like Judaism – focuses on memory – relating how the Torah, like The Dreaming, focuses on passing down memories from one generation to the next, rather than teaching history in the way that western society does.

All in all, the talk was very engaging and educational for all who attended, and certainly a great experience to have. Thank you so much to Justice Rothman and Dr Sarzin for coming in and to Mr Messiah for moderating the conversation!

By Jake Newfield

Rabbi, I was wondering….? 

On Monday, Year 11 was fortunate enough to have a panel of Rabbis speak to us, demonstrating diversity of opinion within the Jewish community. Rabbi Elton, Rabbi Ninio and Rabbi Cantor Mordecai all answered a variety of questions posed in advance by students, ranging from discussing their path to becoming a Rabbi to gender roles in Judaism to the meaning of life.

Rabbi Elton is Orthodox and is a Senior Rabbi of the Great Synagogue, as well as being involved in interfaith work. He first worked in the Ministry of Justice in London for seven years before deciding to go to New York retrain as a Rabbi. Rabbi Ninio is a Progressive Rabbi at Emanuel Synagogue, originally qualified and worked as a family lawyer, before becoming the third Australian-born woman to be ordained as a Rabbi. She is an active leader in social justice. Rabbi Cantor Mordecai is both Cantor and Renewal Rabbi at Emanuel Synagogue and he weaves spirituality, mysticism, music and his Judo-Iraqi heritage into his teaching.

They debated the impact of viewing Judaism through a modern lens, discussing to what extent we should adapt Judaism to better align with modern societal ideals. This prompted the discussion of a key idea of “choice through knowledge”, and the journey Judaism encourages of questioning and exploring morality while balancing our past and present. Their answers altogether highlighted the beauty of each individual’s connection to Judaism as well as the shared communal connection to culture, history and stories, emphasising the often-forgotten unique diversity present within Judaism.

We thank Rabbi Ninio, Rabbi Mordecai and Rabbi Elton so much for coming in and answering all our questions with incredible thought-provoking answers.

By Arielle Melamed