“I felt the embodiment of culture and community” – WAAS interns give feedback

Graduates of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies’ We Are All Sydney (WAAS) community leadership program just completed internships at several Jewish organisations: JewishCare, Moriah College, Shalom, Good Food Jewish Catering and Emanuel Synagogue. One of the graduates has now secured full-time employment as a coordinator at JewishCare.

Four of the 18 graduates interned at Moriah College. Below are excerpts from their feedback.

Lachelle Uzcateguigaymon: We have completed our internship today with Moriah College. It’s hard to put in words the spiritual energy that engulfed us during our time. Thank you Lynda Ben Menashe and Ruth Cohen for giving us this wonderful experience.

Binette Diop (South Sea Islander Port Jackson Community): As an extension of the ‘We Are All Sydney’ community leadership program, initiated and run by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, I interned with Moriah College. I felt the embodiment of culture and community. The professional and generous nature of all the teachers and staff who shared their skills and experiences really touched my heart. I will be bringing my learning to my community, hoping we too can build a stronger sense of identity. I truly appreciate the mentoring and opportunity to meet such a diverse group of people, through the We are All Sydney leadership program and Moriah college. The knowledge I have gained I will share with our organisation as part of our own community engagement strategy. Thank you and bless you all.

Ruth Fesseha (Ethiopian-Sydney community): Exploring Moriah College gave me some great insight into how Jewish values, culture and identity is weaved into every facet of the school. It was inspiring to say the least, I love that it encourages the individual to thrive on every level. I’ve been touched by the love for life, learning, unity which you hold as a community.

Lydia Befekadu (Ethiopian-Sydney community):
 As part of my work placement, I was given the opportunity to experience the rich Jewish culture and values of Moriah College. It has been an absolute delight meeting all of the students and all of the staff who have worked tirelessly to provide us with some of the best experiences. Such as; studies of religion classes, getting to know how the college was first founded by the founder’s daughter herself (Stephanie Schwarz you’re amazing), how Moriah college presents itself to the world from a marketing perspective and so much more…What I enjoyed the most was getting to know some of the staff members and students on a much deeper level where we could exchange ideas and compare our similarities/differences. I will use my experiences at Moriah College to help my community (Ethiopian) in particular the youth. Thank you to everyone who helped host us and I hope to work together with you in the future.

We Are All Sydney (WAAS)

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies’ pilot ‘We Are All Sydney’ community leadership program has been running since March, bringing together emerging leaders from the Jewish community and other ethnic and faith communities, as well as NGO organisations. The pilot includes 20 women from communities including South Sea Islanders, Burmese, Afghani, Sierra Leonean, Syrian, Ethiopian, Chinese, Iraqi, Israeli, Iranian, African American, Indian, as well as Australian-born. It is modelled on the successful ‘We Are All Brooklyn/Queens/The Bronx/Manhattan’ programs that have been run for over 20 years by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

The aim of the program is to develop skills to enable women to fulfil leadership positions in community organisations and the wider community. The aim for the Jewish community is to mentor and network with leaders from communities who reside in diverse parts of Sydney, with a strong focus on Western Sydney. The program also offers internships in Jewish organisations which share the goals of the leaders’ organisations.

We Are All Sydney

With funding from the Federal Department of Social Services, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies is piloting a six-session community leadership development course for women from a wide range of ethnic and religious groups across Sydney.

The project is called We Are All Sydney – WAAS, and is based on a successful program that has been running in the United States for decades, developed by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of New York.

During the first session, participants introduced themselves to each other and learnt about principles of communal organisation. The participants represented diverse communities from across Sydney including: Iranian-Persian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Chinese, South Sea Islander, Syrian, Lebanese, Israeli, Assyrian, West African, Iraqi and Anglo-Irish. The Sydney course was developed by Community Relations & Policy Manager, Lynda Ben Menashe who is assisted by WAAS Project Coordinator, Ruth Cohen.