Victoria’s most senior Catholic leader is visiting a synagogue this Shabbat to show in solidarity with the Jewish community.
Archbishop Peter Comensoli has written a letter condemning antisemitism, which is to be read out at all Catholic churches in the state at services this Sunday.
“The message I wanted to send out is a message to all people, not just our own Catholics here in Melbourne … because I was seeing something that I had not experienced emerging over these last couple of weeks, and that is a kind of insidious prejudice towards people of the Jewish faith,” he said.
The archbishop says it’s rare to issue such a letter, usually only doing it at Christmas and Easter. He said he is doing this because the existence of explicit antisemitism in parts of Australian society is shocking and deeply distressing.
He will be at St Kilda Shule this Shabbat to pray with congregants and Rabbi Yaakov Glasman.
“It’s a way … I think I can at this moment stand with the Jewish people. You have a friend in me,” he said.
Rabbi Glasman, who is the president of the Rabbinical Association of Australasia, said he has worked closely with Christian leaders over the years, most notably with Archbishop Comensoli and Anglican Archbishop Freier, both of whom have reached out to him and the Jewish community during this most challenging time.
He said Archbishop Comensoli called him the Friday morning after the October 7 terrorist attacks, saying he felt gutted, and asking how he could offer support. “I told him there was a massive rally planned later that day in Caulfield Park and invited him to join me … We stood side by side at the rally … where he lit a candle in memory of the Jews who were brutally murdered,” Rabbi Glasman said.
“I felt truly comforted by his compassion and empathy, and for the strong and principled stance he has taken against the world’s oldest hatred, and I know my shule community so deeply value the support of our Christian friends in our time of need.”