Hosted by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) and Caulfield Shule, Minister Brooks alongside Ryan Batchelor, Labor Member for Southern Metropolitan, toured the synagogue. They were learned about the key features of the synagogue and heard about the Caulfield Shule community from Rabbi Daniel Rabin, synagogue President Dr Howard Zeimer and Vice-President Ruth Kurc.
After the tour, the MPs were invited to a small community round-table, hosted by JCCV President Daniel Aghion KC. Leaders representing a diversity of organisations spoke with Minister Brooks and Mr Batchelor about the work they are doing and the challenges they face.
Antisemitism – from both the far-right and the extreme anti-Israel left – were discussed. The importance of Jewish outreach to other faith and cultural groups was emphasised as an effective way to break-down barriers. The cost of maintaining ageing infrastructure, including synagogues; social issues, from Reconciliation to working with the LGBTQI+ community; and the continuing work towards greater gender equality in our community, were all on the table.
Minister Brooks, who since being sworn in as Minister for Multicultural Affairs in 2022, has attended many community events, including Yom Hashoah and Pillars of Light, said his understanding of the Jewish community stemmed from a trip he took to Israel in 2016.
He also contrasted the open doors of his own church, with the security outside the synagogue. He noted that the Victorian Government was cognisant of the ongoing threat of antisemitism facing the Jewish community and re-emphasised the commitment in last month’s Victorian Budget of $3 million to combat antisemitism, together with ongoing work by the Victorian Government to strengthen anti-vilification laws, including the ban on the public display of the Nazi swastika and the proposed ban on the Nazi salute.
“We are grateful, as a community, that is now more than 100 years old, of having had the opportunity to prosper in Victoria,” Aghion said following the Minister and Mr Batchelor’s visit.
“In the current environment, which can seem hostile at times, the feeling is that the Victorian Government has our back in its support of the community generally and specifically, in regards to antisemitism we are facing from the far-left and the far-right.”