The skyline of Auckland.
The skyline of Auckland. Photo by Joerg Mueller
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Not my experience of New Zealand Jewry

I was extremely concerned to read the recent article by Dan Goldberg, “Zionism out of fashion with New Zealand’s Jews,” published on 15 May. This article suggests that the New Zealand Jewish community no longer has a proud and strong attachment to Israel. This is not my experience at all; the article is a false representation of the active Jewish community.

It has just finished commemorating and celebrating the “Yoms”; each year, these occasions take the community from mourning and somber reflection to joyful celebration and are a central part of its calendar. In Auckland these events are led by the Zionist Federation of New Zealand, and all three of them were filled to overflowing. In our capital, Wellington, the Embassy of Israel takes responsibility for these important days. It has been an honor for me to be a part of some of these celebrations, as I am not Jewish but have Jewish friends in Auckland.

There are two active and committed Zionist Youth Movements in New Zealand, a thriving Jewish day school in Auckland, five extremely active and appreciated shlichim (envoys) working in the Jewish community, and many organizations working to bring a rich and diverse calendar to the Jewish community, including the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemet LeYisrael Hadassah, WIZO and Limmud NZ.

While the Jewish community in New Zealand is a small and remote one, it retains strong and meaningful relationships with Israel, including frequent visits to family and friends. Over the years many Kiwis have made aliyah and served in the Israel Defense Forces, and continue to do so. There are many opportunities for the community’s young people to travel to Israel, including with B’nei Akiva, Habonim, MASA programs, March of the Living, and more.

In my experience, the Jewish community is not a community in decline or out of touch with Israel.

Marta Cullen

Auckland

Kiwi Jews are more united than you think

In response to Dan Goldberg’s “Zionism out of fashion with New Zealand’s Jews,” May 15

Has there ever been a time in history when leaders in the Jewish community agree on everything?

In the past month I have attended three community events organized by the New Zealand Zionist Federation (ZFed), described in your article as existing “in name only.” Yom HaShoah was commemorated at the Auckland Hebrew Congregation (Orthodox shul). The newly-renovated hall was packed to capacity with standing room only and the Rabbi from Beth Shalom (Progressive shul) led Kaddish. The Yom HaZikaron service was held at Beth Shalom and the Orthodox Rabbi led El Malei Rachamim. Again, the hall was filled to overflowing.

We celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut at a neutral venue, where once again, there was a full house. The compère played the role of Herzl. Madrichim from our two Zionist youth movements, Habonim Dror and B’nei Akiva shared the stage in a fun skit revolving around quotes from famous Jewish and Zionist leaders.

In brief, our community has never been more united, active or cohesive - thanks in part to ZFed’s strong and energetic leadership. If you ask me, our community is in great shape and our support for Israel far more open and active than your article would suggest.

Paul Wilton

President Beth Shalom, The Progressive Jewish Congregation of Auckland, New Zealand

Not at all in decline

I was extremely concerned to read the recent article by Dan Goldberg, "Zionism out of fashion with New Zealand’s Jews," published on 15 May. This article suggests that the New Zealand Jewish community no longer has a proud and strong attachment to Israel. This is not my experience at all; the article is a false representation of the active Jewish community.

It has just finished commemorating and celebrating the "Yoms"; each year, these occasions take the community from mourning and somber reflection to joyful celebration and are a central part of its calendar. In Auckland these events are led by the Zionist Federation of New Zealand, and all three of them were filled to overflowing. In our capital, Wellington, the Embassy of Israel takes responsibility for these important days. It has been an honor for me to be a part of some of these celebrations, as I am not Jewish but have Jewish friends in Auckland.

There are two active and committed Zionist Youth Movements in New Zealand, a thriving Jewish day school in Auckland, five extremely active and appreciated shlichim (envoys) working in the Jewish community, and many organizations working to bring a rich and diverse calendar to the Jewish community, including the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemet LeYisrael Hadassah, WIZO and Limmud NZ.

While the Jewish community in New Zealand is a small and remote one, it retains strong and meaningful relationships with Israel, including frequent visits to family and friends. Over the years many Kiwis have made aliyah and served in the Israel Defense Forces, and continue to do so. There are many opportunities for the community’s young people to travel to Israel, including with B’nei Akiva, Habonim, MASA programs, March of the Living, and more.

In my experience, the Jewish community is not a community in decline or out of touch with Israel.

Marta Cullen

Auckland