NEW ZEALAND MUSLIMS AND JEWS PLANT TREES AND VOW TO STRENGTHEN TIES BETWEEN THEIR COMMUNITIES

The first-ever Jewish-Muslim ‘twinning’ event in New Zealand took place on Friday, October 11th in the capital city of Wellington, as leaders of the country’s Muslim and Jewish communities, joined  the city’s Mayor Celia Wade-Brown to plant five trees of friendship and unity and vow to work together to ensure that the country enjoys a peaceful and verdant future.

 The Wellington tree-planting marked the kickoff of the 6th Annual Weekend of Twinning, an world-wide series of events held every autumn during which synagogues, mosques and Jewish and Muslim organizations in cities around the globe form partnerships and hold joint programs. together on the same weekend.  More than 150 mosques and Muslim organizations and 150 synagogues and Jewish organizations in more than 30 countries on six continents are expected to take part in twinning events over the next two months.

Speaking at the Wellington twinning event in the city’s bucolic Central Park, Rabbi Marc Schneier,  President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a New York-based not-for-profit agency dedicated to strengthening ties between Muslims and Jews around the world, commented, “It is fitting that New Zealand is the first country to hold a twinning event this year, since it is near the International Dateline and therefore the first country to greet the new day. Today, we affirmed to each other that a new era of communication, reconciliation and cooperation between Muslims and Jews around the world can be achieved if we join together to make it happen. And in this country of awesome natural beauty, we planted trees as an expression of the moral imperative in both faith traditions to repair the world by sustaining our increasingly fragile natural environment.”

In her remarks, Mayor Wade-Brown praised the Muslim and Jewish leaders for strengthening ties between the two communities. 

Left to right: Rabbi Adi Cohen, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Rabbi Marc Schneier, President and Founder of FFEU, Professor Paul Morris (UNESCO Professor of Interreligious Understanding at Victoria University of Wellington), Sultan Eusoff, Rabbi Yitzhak Mizrachi, and Sheikh Mohammed Amir (Imam of the Wellington Islamic Centre).

Among the New Zealand Muslim and Jewish leaders who took part in the event were Dr. Paul Morris, UNESCO Professor of Interreligious Understanding at Victoria University of Wellington), Sultan Eusoff, Rabbi Yitzhak Mizrachi (Wellington Hebrew Congregation), Rabbi Adi Cohen (Temple Sinai of Wellington), and Sheikh Mohammed Amir (Imam of the Wellington Islamic Centre).

The unprecedented twinning kickoff event in New Zealand was an outgrowth of a Mission of  Muslim and Jewish Leaders from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to Washington that was held last June. The goal of the mission was to encourage the Muslim and Jewish leaders of these “Southern Hemisphere” countries to host joint programs during the Weekend of Twinning in order to begin a process of building friendship and trust between the two communities on the grass roots and leadership levels. Twinning events are planned in South Africa and Australia this November.

 Mayor Celia Wade-Brown of Wellington plants a tree with Muslim and Jewish women. 

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