In his message to the fifth Annual General Meeting of the Council of Christians and Jews, Western Australia its patron, WA Governor Major General Michael Jeffery, AC MC, expressed the hope that out of the work of the Council in “”promoting a greater understanding of each other's points of view … should hopefully arise a greater feeling of relatedness, which will further enhance harmony and tolerance in the community.””
Held on Sunday, 14 November, the meeting's keynote speaker was well-known Perth poet and freelance writer, Fay Zwicky. Describing herself as “”too much of a Jew to be a Christian, too much of a Christian to be much of a Jew””, she gave a fascinating account of her life as a student, a concert pianist, and then as a poet and journalist. Fay frequently quoted from her writings and described her complex relationship with her Jewish father who died at sea without the benefit of a Kaddish prayer. During her schooldays in a Melbourne Anglican church school she was profoundly influenced by a Quaker teacher who took her to Quaker meetings. Here, Fay says, 'I encountered a productive silence for the first time in my life.'
In her journal she pays this revealing tribute to the Psalms;
The Psalms have given me the most inspired comfort. But is it just a trick of language or do I actually take hold of something in the act of reading? Some sustaining force behind the words, the voice of the fallible human seeking redemption in a crazy act of faith in an unseen being. “”I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. I watch and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.”The imagery is very poignant and feels right.
Permission has now been granted to publish the full text of Fay Zwicky's talk on the CCJ-WA website.
The gathering concluded with a traditional Australian barbecue in the delightful gardens behind the Retreat House. Jew and Christian alike shared in the Kosher food on offer and in the stimulating conversation around the picnic tables.
The members of the Executive Committee for the coming year are: