Participants in the 2007 International conference of the International Council of Christians and Jews were high in their praise for its success in tackling issues of vital importance confronting the Council's work.
Leading interfaith protagonists including Sydney Great Synagogue's Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, Melbourne's Rabbi John Levi, Charles Sturt University's Professor James Haire, London's Leo Baeck College Emeritus Professor Rabbi Jonathan Magonet, Ethnic Affairs Commission Chairman Stepan Kerkyasharian, the Uniting Church New Sout Wales Moderator Jim Mein and Manchester's (and former Temple Emanuel Chief Minister) Rabbi Brian Fox were joined in a series of panel presentations and workshops by the Board of Deputies' Vic Alhadeff and Josh Levin, AIDC's Jeremy Jones, former ADC chairman, Paul Gardner and Shalom College Director of Adult Education, Peta Jones Pellach. The New Zealand Council was represented by leading names including Arcbishop Dew of Wellington, Professor Paul Morris and well-known educator, Jean Holm.
The Conference was co-hosted by the Australian and New Zealand Councils. Said Australian chairman, Henry Mendelson: "In an eventful and topic-crammed 3½ day program, a wide ranging examination has been possible of the many aspects of the Council's work and the challenges which lie ahead".
Over 170 delegates from interstate and overseas, including the US, Europe and South America heard presentations by a series of panels and 24 workshops, covering ethical, ecological and historical topics. With the exception of the keynote address, given by Rabbi Raymond Apple on the topic of "The healing of rifts between religions in a multicultural society", all the conference sessions provided opportunities for questions and discussion by those attending. A particular emphasis of the conference was placed on the indigenous nation of Australia with special aboriginal ceremonies and tutorials. In addition, delegates toured the Sydney Jewish Museum, the Aboriginal Catholic Centre at LaPerouse, St. Mary's Cathedral and the Great Synagogue.
"It was of course vital that the organisation comes to grips with the many pressing issues which face our world today in the area of interfaith relations" Mendelson added. "The many participating high-profile speakers from both overseas and from Australasia tackled these issues, seeking to provide answers to some of the many problematic questions facing today's modern world."
The conference was officially opened by H E the Governor of New South Wales, Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO who enjoined the delegates to enter into dialogue with each other with a view to meaningful outcomes. She pointedly referred to the strong contingent of young people — students from New Zealand, Victoria and New South Wales who had been sponsored to attend the conference.
Panel speakers and workshop participants included Uruguay's Bishop Louis del Castillo, Boston College's Philip Cunningham, Townsville's Bishop Michael Putney, the ABC's Rachael Kohn, Journalist and Pratt Foundation CEO Sam Lipski, Professor Golam Dastagir of the University of Dakar, historian, Suzanne Rutland, Jerusalem's Deborah Weissman and New York based Tannenbaum Centre's Judith Banki.
A workshop on the relationship between minority and majority religions was chaired by the Australian Capital Territories' (ACT) Margaret Piper.
President of the International Council of Christians and Jews, Fr. Professor John Pawlikowski said in Sydney last week that the Council's recently-concluded 2007 International Conference had been highly successful.
"In an eventful and topic-crammed 3½ day program, a wide ranging examination has been possible of the many aspects of the Council's work and the challenges which lie ahead", Fr. Pawlikowski said.
A particular emphasis of the conference was placed on the indigenous nation of Australia with special aboriginal ceremonies, tutorials and visits to such venues as the Aboriginal Catholic Centre at La Perouse and St. Mary's Cathedral.
"It was of course vital that the organisation comes to grips with the many pressing issues which face our world today in the area of interfaith relations. There is much work still ahead of us to overcome the prejudices of the past and indeed, the problems of the present"' Fr. Pawlikowski added.