The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) hosted the first Jewish – African Communities Friendship Dinner on Sunday, May 8th. Nearly 100 community leaders attended the night, including many young leaders from the Victorian Jewish and African communities.
Ms Jennifer Huppert, JCCV President opened and stated, “This is an important initiative to break down stereotypes, improve understanding across our communities, create opportunities for cooperation and develop friendships.”
Group photo at the Jewish African communities friendship dinner
Victoria’s Minister for Multicultural Affairs also attended the night and spoke about multiculturalism, the problems of racial discrimination and the importance of creating employment opportunities for youth from new and emerging communities.
Three African speakers main speakers for the evening were Peter Pal, Chair of the Union of Upper Nile States, Ms Amani Nyikang, from Slater & Gordon and Incubate, and Ahmed Dini, Australian Somali Football Association and United Through People.
Jewish and African leaders having a conversation at the dinner
Mr Pal highlighted the differences in communal structures, family law and cultures compared to countries of origin. Ms Nyikang outlined the issues facing refugees from South Sudan, and the problems created by negative stories and images in the mainstream media. Ms Nyikang pointed out that, “the role models, contribution and successes of South Sudanese youth needs recognition and promotion.”
Mr Dini, stated, “We love this country. This is home.” He also outlined his personal story from a child in refugee camps during the Somali civil war to football and experience in the Kynnections project, which had brought Muslim, Jewish and Christian students together. “The community cannot give up hope on the young people, or they will give up hope on themselves. We want the same opportunities as previous generations.”
Two African leaders at the dinner
Gary Samowitz, CEO of Stand Up presented an overview of Stand Up, and their extensive work with the Victorian Sudanese community while drawing a parallel in the refugee experience of the Jewish and African communities.