Honouring First People
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WE-AKON DILINJA

Honouring First People

Rabbi Kaltmann blew the shofar and recited a prayer acknowledging the rightful custodians of this land at this year's We-Akon Dilinja (Mourning Reflection) ceremony on Australia Day

Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann blowing the shofar at the We-Akon Dilinja ceremony.
Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann blowing the shofar at the We-Akon Dilinja ceremony.

The sound of the shofar resonated across this year’s We-Akon Dilinja (Mourning Reflection) ceremony on Australia Day, as the ARK Centre’s Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann took part in a program that aims to bring the community together to commemorate and celebrate the rich and diverse culture of the First People of this land.

Now in its third year, the dawn ceremony took place in St Kilda, and was presented by the Boonwurrung Land and Sea Council (BLSC). Supported by Port Phillip Council and the National Australia Day Council, the ceremony featured a Boonwurrung Welcome song, a didgeridoo player, and other traditions of our First Nations people.

As well as blowing the shofar, Rabbi Kaltmann recited a prayer acknowledging the rightful custodians of this land.

“Almighty God who has blessed our sunburnt country,” he said, “May it be your will to open our ears, so we listen to First Nations people’s words, not just hear them. That we listen to the rightful custodians of this magnificent land, so we acknowledge and recognise, their concerns, dreams, hopes and expectations. So, our listening creates empathy, understanding and shared sorrow for the dark times of the past.”

BLSC’s N’arweet Jason Briggs said this year’s theme, Healing through Remembrance, Reflection and Recognition, is especially meaningful at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the benefits of community connection.

Mayor Marcus Pearl said Port Phillip is proud to be the first Australian council to have facilitated an Indigenous remembrance ceremony of this kind.

Rabbi Kaltmann told The AJN, “It was very meaningful to take part in the We-Akon Dilinja Mourning Reflection representing the Jewish community. The ceremony was important as it worked to bring together our community on Australia Day to commemorate and celebrate the rich, diverse culture of the First People of this land.”

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