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New Zealand message

Last updated: 2004-08-11

Chief Rabbi

Chief Rabbi

The Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, has sent the following message to the New Zealand Jewish community:

I was both saddened and disturbed to hear about the attack on Jewish graves and the prayer hall at the Makara cemetery in Wellington. This followed the equally horrifying desecration of graves at Bolton Street cemetery in Wellington just two weeks ago.

The New Zealand Jewish community has a distinguished history, and has long contributed to the country’s economic, political and civic dynamism. In particular, I know that the Wellington Jewish community has made significant contributions to the administration and prosperity of the town, and that two of its Mayors have been Jewish.

Whenever a Jewish community faces acts of vandalism and violence of this sort, and we have endured similar episodes recently in London, I am inspired by the inevitable response of the Jewish community. The prevailing reaction is not rooted in anger or fear, but fuelled by defiance and rededication. This confirms that the courage of faith is more powerful than the cowardice of hate.

Whilst the Jewish community should react with dignified defiance, it is the responsibility of the authorities to heed the warning of anti-Semitism and racism in society. I was pleased to see that your Parliament was quick to pass a statement condemning all forms of anti-Semitism and racism. We need to continue to voice the message that the Jewish community must not be left to confront anti-Semitism alone. The victim cannot cure the crime. It is not the one who is hated, but the one who hates, who needs to change

Please be assured that we in the UK Jewish community are aware of the situation, and you are in our thoughts and prayers at these arduous times.