National Council of Jewish Women of Australia NSW Div. (NCJWA NSW) is a volunteer community organization which responds to community needs engaging in a broad range of educational, social, community services and fundraising activities in the Jewish and wider community.
We have a special portfolio dedicated to Interfaith and Multicultural interaction and endeavour to improve community relations with women from all cultures and faiths to promote harmony through understanding. We embrace the things we have in common and promote those qualities that bind not those that divide, building bridges on these strong foundations.
We have hosted women from many faiths and cultures at Fanny Reading Council House Woollahra. Together we have enjoyed various cultural experiences such as; in 2009, visiting the Sydney Buddhist Centre to learn about Buddhist beliefs and practices. In the same year we held a lunch in our Sukkah, experiencing hands-on the colours and lines that define and unite diverse women with intercultural art facilitator Shiri Hergasds. In 2010 NCJWA Interfaith/Intercultural Co Chair Di Hirsh OAM spoke in Parliament to Transcultural members on her experiences at sessions of the World’s Religions and Breakthrough Summit.
In 2011 we invited many women to share our “Women’s Interfaith Seder” and in 2012 we held luncheons with guest speakers such as anthropologist Dr Wendy Sinclair, ABC presenter Dr Rachael Kohn, hosting a panel from Humanist, Catholic, Muslim, Bahai and Quaker faiths to celebrate Harmony Day. Each September we attend World Day for Peace celebrated with many faiths represented at St David’s Uniting Church, Lindfield. On many occasions we have offered a Jewish prayer for peace. In 2013 we visited the Gallipoli Mosque in Auburn. We were given a tour and many of our Jewish and Christian members attended as well as the President of Zonta. We studied “The Jew in the Lotus” by Rodger Kamenetz, the account of an historic dialogue between rabbis and the Dalai Lama.
In 2014 we worked on a series of hands-on events around the idea of “women helping women”. We invited women from all backgrounds and faiths to come together to pack 800 birthing kits for women in developing countries. We have hosted an event at Our Big Kitchen to bake challah at our “Women baking and breaking bread together”. Our board members and volunteers represent us at a variety of events such as the 12th Abrahamic Conference ‘Faith and the media: An unbridgeable chasm?’ held in 2014. In 2015 and 2016 we continued to raise funds for birthing kits and on these occasions packed 1000 of these kits with many women, in particular women from various Diocese of the Catholic Women’s League.
In 2016 we co-hosted and screened “The Song of Life” documentary with the Greek Zakynthian Association of Sydney and NSW. Over 300 people attended. Tribute was paid to the leaders and residents of the island of Zakynthos for their bravery during the Holocaust, saving all the Jewish citizens in their community. Bishop Chrysostomos Demetriou and Mayor Loukas Karrer were honoured for their humanity and bravery.
Our Transcultural and Interfaith work is very important to us and we take pride in being able to contribute to creating a harmonious society in Australia.