“AN attack on one faith is an attack on us all,” NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) CEO Vic Alhadeff said at a presentation in Christchurch last week, where he delivered a cheque for almost $70,000 to the city’s mayor.
The funds were the result of a crowdfunding campaign launched by JBOD in response to the terrorist attacks on two mosques in March, which killed 51 people.
“We are all members of a shared humanity. We all want our loved ones to return home safely each day. Without having been abused because of their race, religion, gender, sexual preference or any another feature which suggests difference,” Alhadeff said.
“The most practical way of making the world a better place is to cast aside differences where we can and meaningfully support each other … which is why our crowdfunding campaign was the right response. It was compassion trumping politics.”
As part of the visit, Alhadeff toured the two mosques where the shootings took place.
Accompanied by New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman, Astor Foundation executive director Gael Keren and representatives of the Canterbury Hebrew Congregation, Alhadeff said the experience was “exceptionally moving”.
“Paying our respects at the mosques in the company of New Zealand Muslim and Jewish leaders was both poignant and chilling,” Alhadeff told The AJN, “particularly when the imams described in painstaking detail how the terrorist had cold-bloodedly fired at worshippers at prayer, leaving behind 34 young widows.”
He added that the Muslim leadership “profoundly appreciated the response and support that they received from the global Jewish community”.
Noting that donations ranged from $5 to $5000, Alhadeff said, “Those who contributed $5000 knew they were making a significant difference.
“And those who contributed $5 did so in the awareness that every dollar would reinforce the message that we cared; that the Jewish community cares about its colleagues who make up the Muslim community of Christchurch; and cares about every individual who looks different, sounds different, walks to a different drum – as long as that individual adheres to the law of the land.”
More than $1 million in total was handed over from the Jewish communities of Pittsburgh, Sydney and New Zealand.
The funds were raised for the families of the victims for counselling and support services, medical treatment, financial planning, education and vocational training, and will be managed by the Christchurch Foundation.