Nearly 20,000 Australians reached this term + Passover, Easter & Ramadan - Liberation through humility
Scroll down for an update on our busy first term back in schools, otherwise enjoy this short story from our National Director, Rabbi Zalman Kastel AM.
On Wednesday 24 March, I, a Jewish Rabbi orginally from New York, spoke to around 500 students, mainly from Muslim and Christian backgrounds, in Western Sydney, just before the students heard from Muslim sporting superstar, Sonny Bill Williams.
My words came just days before the Jewish community observes Passover, Christians observe Easter and Muslims celebrate Ramadan. This is a great opportunity to understand our fellow Australians through conversation. When we do, let us not stop at learning about the visible part of these days, but also explore the underlying values and themes that resonate strongly with people, regardless of their beliefs.
As the children waited impatiently to hear from their hero, I tried to get their attention. I held up a wooden spoon, feather and beeswax candle. I explained to them that these objects were part of my Passover celebrations and would be used in a bread hunt the following night, after which Jews would not eat bread for the eight days of Passover.
The students' attention was divided between the bearded Rabbi and the 6 ft 3 New Zealander footballer and boxer behind me. I bravely continued, telling the students that bread, in the Jewish mystical teachings, represents arrogance. I pointed out that within Sonny Bill’s big frame was a wonderfully humble spirit.
I drew the students’ attention to the connection between justice and humility in the Passover/Exodus story. Pharaoh, or Firaun in the Koran, persists in his racist oppression out of arrogance that prevents him from yielding to Moses/Musa’s demands to liberate the enslaved people.
Sonny Bill was there to celebrate the completion of a program at the school led by Together For Humanity’s Aamon Sayed and Hezie Lazarov that explored students’ values. I encouraged the students to humbly live out their values and be true to their principles and traditions.
My words were echoed by the humble giant. Sonny Bill shared something of his own journey from his upbringing in a housing commission flat. His presence was calm, and he explained that he drew strength from his own Islamic faith. He encouraged the children to do what they learned in the Together For Humanity program, to ‘man up’ and be true to their values. And as Sonny Bill spoke, he demonstrated how people from vastly different backgrounds can come together around shared values.
I have no doubt that there is much I can learn from Christians and Muslims about what Easter and Ramadan mean to you. We would love to hear about your experience on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter.
Wishing our Christian friends a Happy Easter, our Muslim friends Ramadan Mubarak and our Jewish friends a Happy and Kosher Pesach,