The Multifaith Association of South Australia conducted a year-end event at the Unitarian Church, Norwood, SA. Speakers from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Bahá’í faith and Hinduism participated. Here, we share the talk given by Ms Ann Aisatullin of the Multifaith Association of South Australia.
“Engaging with Community – Serving in a Troubled World”.
Recently I saw some billboards with the slogan: ‘Our greatest natural resource is responsibility’.
I didn’t recognise the company who this ad belonged to but the words resonated with me.
At the moment we are experiencing a climate emergency. I was in Canberra a month ago for the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change National Conference. There was a very sobering and moving account by our First Nations people about the impact climate change has already had. Aboriginal people have always been responsible in caring for the natural environment, using it for their needs but protecting it and not abusing it for building empires. Indigenous people around the world are being consulted now for their knowledge and their respect for the natural environment.
Nowadays so many concerned citizens with or without faith are working towards changing and improving the world. I think we all acknowledge that the world is troubled. And so many of us are concerned and feeling a deep responsibility to do something to improve the well-being of the earth and all the people living here.
As a Jewish person and and as human being I believe this is an essential element of our lives here on earth. In Jewish kabbalistic thought the soul, our inner identity, is clothed with thought, speech and action. It is our responsibility to take control of these and to ensure that we are purposeful. Our mission is to be channels of positive change, in Jewish terminology, to do Tikun Olam, in other words to help repair the world. From small acts of kindness to specific projects, these are some ways in which we can actively participate in this repair, this Tikun Olam. This idea can be seen in Genesis, the first book of the Torah, the Bible, where it says we were ‘placed in the garden to serve it and protect it’.
And in the ancient Jewish biblical interpretation called the Midrash it says that ‘Everything G-d created in His world was designed to be improved’.
To return to the title of this talk, how do I as a Jewish person ‘Engage with Community’?
Of course as with everyone, my life is multi-faceted and complex. At the moment I am caring for my elderly mum, but I also have adult children, voluntary work, friends, part-time work and hobbies and interests.
But I’d just like to share with you one specific way in which I have and plan to continue engaging with community and serving in a troubled world.
As a member of Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, Religions for Peace Australia, United Religions Initiative and the Multifaith Association of SA I have been involved in the Living the Change campaign.
This involves making a personal commitment to walking more gently on the earth by making changes in three areas of behaviour, transport, home energy use, and diet. These areas have been identified by scientists as being critically important for truly sustainable lifestyles.
In Melbourne where I recently was living I helped organise an event in the city but now am part of a group here in SA, led very much by Philippa Rowland, president of the Multifaith Association of SA, to introduce this campaign in various communities, both faith-based and others, or simply to arrange suppers where people can learn and support each other in choosing more sustainable lifestyles
As do many people of faith, as a Jewish person I have a hope that things can and will get better. But it won’t be because we trust in G-d and let him do it all. It will be because we take responsibility and work together to improve our world and with G-d’s help we can all make a difference.
Brief Biographical Notes for 2019 Speakers at the Multifaith Association of SA Inc
⟴ Ann Aisatullin Judaism – past President and active member of Multifaith Association of South Australia, Treasurer for Religions for Peace and Country Contact for United Religions Initiative. Mother of 3 children. Ann has been a Kindergarten Teacher and a volunteer telephone counsellor. She is a current Member of ARRCC and of the national Estonian Choir.
⟴ Rev Anne Hewitt Uniting Church of Australia – Executive Director of SA Council of Churches. Anne is been a teacher and lecturer, who has ministered in congregations, in the UCA State office and in chaplaincy, engaged with people from intergenerational and multicultural communities, often in challenging circumstances of bereavement and disaster recovery. She has a strong ecumenical background in her family and in ministry formation at Adelaide College of Divinity.
⟴ Dee Sunyata Buddhist –Dee has worked in Federal Parliament, as a lawyer and, for 20 years, as a psychologist. Introduced to Buddhism in her 30s in Sydney, her engagement increased in her 40s in Brisbane, and she now attends regular teachings and practice in Adelaide. Dee’s main experience is Tibetan Buddhism, particularly the Nyingma tradition and Shambhala teachings. She’s travelled to receive Buddhist teachings and attend retreats interstate, in NZ, Europe and US.
⟴ Major Gratton Savage, Salvation Army (Christian)- Major Savage is an Education Officer and a respected Corps Officer with the Salvation Army in Arndale, South Australia. He is also the co-editor of a book commissioned jointly by the Salvation Army and the Uniting Church in Australia, entitled “Holiness and social justice: dialogue report,” which was published in 2018.
⟴ Manijeh Tavakoli, of Bahá’í faith. In 2019, Baha’i communities around the world celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of the Bab in October 1819, the herald whose ministry paved the way for the appearance of Baha’ullah. Bahá’í regard the Bab and Baha’ullah as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God. The Bahá’í of Adelaide and globally work to give practical expression to the Bahá’í vision of building united, harmonious and morally upright communities. They welcome everyone to join hands with them in creating a just, united and peaceful world.
⟴ Imam Atif Ahmad Zahid, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community – Imam Atif is the respected Imam of the Ahmadiyya Mahmood Mosque of Beverley and the Noor Mosque of Noarlunga. He has spoken widely about the value of Interfaith Harmony and the value of supporting First Nations and all peace-building efforts across the South Australian community.
⟴ Vani Shukla Registered Yoga Teacher with the Hindu Council of Australia – Vani was born into a Brahmin Hindu (scholar) family in India and since childhood associated with her cultural roots. Originally from Lucknow, she is a Traditional Yoga and Meditation Teacher, life coach dietitian and Thai Yoga Bodywork Practitioner. Vani is a Karma Yogi and owner of Yoga Begins.
© Ann Aisatullin 2019