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Rabbi Zalman Kastel, national director of Together for Humanity and the Very Reverend Dr Greg Jenks, Dean of Grafton, met on September 21 to discuss introducing cultural educational programs in Clarence Valley schools. Image: Contributed.

Communities encouraged to come together

The Clarence Valley welcomed a special visitor on September 21 when Rabbi Zalman Kastel, national director of Together for Humanity, met with several prominent community members at Grafton’s Christ Church Cathedral.

A not-for-profit organisation, Together for Humanity works with school communities to educate students on interfaith and intercultural understanding and the importance of acceptance.

Rabbi Kastel’s visit also coincided with International Peace Day, with a goal to explore and identify ways to promote Together for Humanity in the local region.

Community members met with Rabbi Zalman Kastel in Grafton to learn about not-for-profit organisation, Together for Humanity. Image: Contributed.

“Together for Humanity is keen to partner with local organisations to provide support for young people,” he said.

“The ability of young people to deal effectively with differences of belief and backgrounds is important for their well-being and success, and schools and communities have a huge influence on attitudes.

“Together for Humanity has almost two decades of proven expertise in helping schools foster students’ acceptance and understanding of people from different cultures, religions and ethnic backgrounds.”

The visit also allowed Rabbi Kastel to learn and develop an understanding of the local region and discuss points of view regarding embracing diversity with fellow attendees during the meeting.

The Very Reverend Dr Greg Jenks, Dean of Grafton said Rabbi Kastel’s visit “allowed community members to learn how Together for Humanity may be a great way for local children and youths to learn about the amazing diversity of humanity as well as how that diversity does not need to stop us working together for the common good.”

“Until now Together for Humanity has been working in metropolitan areas, but they are looking to offer their services to schools and other community groups in regional areas,” he said.

“Compared with many other parts of the country, we are not very diverse so far as culture, language and religion are concerned.

“However, we do have a few community members from many different backgrounds, so we want to develop skills in making them welcome, learning how best to build relationships with them, and discovering ways that we can work together to make the Clarence Valley more diverse and more inclusive.

“One special way in which Together for Humanity may assist us is to appreciate the cultural and spiritual legacy of the large indigenous community in the Clarence Valley.

“We have so much to learn from each other and there is so much that we can do together to make our valley an even better place to live.”

Dr Jenks and Rabbi Kastel are members of the Religious Communities Forum, which operates under the auspices of Multiculturalism NSW to bring together representatives from different religious communities in the state.

When Dr Jenks learned Rabbi Kastel was in Northern NSW to lead New Year services for the Jewish community at Byron Bay, he was delighted a meeting was able to be arranged between them and other community members, including representatives from Clarence Valley Council and NSW Police. 

Rabbi Kastel said he is hopeful of introducing Together for Humanity programs in the Clarence Valley soon after community members at the gathering expressed keen interest.

“We’re confident some Clarence Valley students will participate in Together for Humanity programs later this year or early 2021,” he said.

“We hope many of the teachers and parents in the region consider the merit of these programs for their school communities and invite us to start.”