Australian Council of Christians and Jews (ACCJ)
Australian Council of Christians and Jews
Year of establishment or foundation of the organization:
Brief history of the organization:
The Australian Council of Christians and Jews was inaugurated in December 1991 at a phone link up between Melbourne and Sydney. It is composed of Councils of Christians and Jews in Victoria, New South Wales, Canberra, Perth, and South Australia. The Victorian Branch of the CCJ was founded in Melbourne in 1985 and in Sydney in 1988. In Melbourne there is a strong ecumenical movement amongst the churches, whereas in Sydney a strong evangelical strain within some sectors of the Christian churches makes ecumenical and interfaith dialogue more difficult. Since 1984 Canberra has had an interfaith dialogue group and South Australia and Perth (1994) established Councils in the 1990s.
Australia has a Jewish community of about 100,000 and proportionally the highest concentration of Holocaust survivors in the world. Post war immigration of Jews led to the burgeoning of synagogues and the revitalisation of the Australian Jewish community. There are about forty synagogues in Sydney and Melbourne respectively, Jews in Melbourne numbering slightly more than those in Sydney. Catholics followed by Anglicans remain the largest religious groups represented in the recent 2015 census.
A Council of Christians and Jews was founded in Sydney in 1943 after Rabbi Israel Porush, senior rabbi of the Great Synagogue attended an inaugural general meeting in London in 1942 of the international body which became the ICCJ. He became one of the main instigators of the CCJ in NSW. He was greatly helped by the Anglican bishop Venn Pilcher, who worked tirelessly for refugees. The CCJ functioned till 1948, when interest waned, and the immediate threat of antisemitism associated with the war had abated.
In 1974 Rabbi Raymond Apple established the Jewish/Christian Luncheon Club, but the time was not yet ripe to refound the CCJ. There was an attempt to start a Council in Melbourne in 1960, Archbishop Mannix and Archbishop Frank Woods as well as Isi Leibler, and Rabbis Herman Sanger and Gutnick attending the inaugural meeting, in 1961. The letters from Australia signed by Rabbi R. Brasch, Rabbi H. Sanger, Rabbi Israel Porush, Bishop Venn Pilcher, Evelyn Rothfield, and the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies are a witness to this attempt.
Number of members (approx.):
13 office bearers represent our various constituents, and our local CCJ groups touch or reach around 500 regular members.
Where is your organization based?
Melbourne has an office.
Main focuses/areas of your work:
Education to break down prejudice and for Jews and Christians to appreciate each others' traditions..
Which audiences do you work towards?
Academics, Grassroots, Retired professionals, Clergy, Students
How often does your organization meet?
The national body meets monthly by Skype..
Events regularly sponsored by your organization:
- Biannual Annual General Meeting with Jewish and Christian speakers
- Attendance of ICCJ Conferences; hosted 2007 the annual ICCJ Conference in Sydney
- Shoah Memorial service in a Christian venue
- Commemoration of "Kristallnacht"
- Regular lectures
Does your organization have any regular publications (in print or online)?
Gesher, a yearly magazine with several pages of articles by Jews and Christians is published by the Victorian Council of Christians and Jews. It is now online.
Main working/publishing language of your organization:
Officers of your organization:
- Chair: Dr Ron Hoenig
- Deputy Chair: Rev. Jenny Chalmers
- Treasurer: Dr Philip Bliss
- Secretary: Marianne Dacy, N.D.S.
Briefly describe your organization’s relationship to the ICCJ:
The ACCJ was created as an umbrella organization for the State Councils of Christians and Jews. It provides a link to the International Council of Christians and Jews.
What is the greatest challenge your organization faces at the moment?
Much work needs to be done in changing attitudes and strengthening religious values, though some progress in changing negative attitudes towards Jews is being made. The slow gradual work of Jewish Christian relations, the teaching of biblical studies in the theological colleges, the support of some individual Christian leaders committed to dialogue, as well as some rabbinic input in courses at theological Colleges have all helped to bring about a minor shift in Christian attitudes. Attracting young members to join the Council remains a challenge.
Has your organization figured in any published material such as newspapers, books or blogs?
See our homepage; see http://ccjvic.org.au for books.
Contact to your organization:
Website of your organization: