BY MARY MERKENICH
MELBOURNE — On March 31, Jews for Refugees held its first public event — a 700-strong rally during the Festival of Passover, Pesach — outside Maribyrnong detention centre. A car pool and cavalcade led by Yids on Wheels — a Jewish biker group — travelled to the demonstration from the Glen Eira Town Hall in Caulfield.
The rally was publicised at the vast majority of synagogues on Shabbat HaGadol (March 23). Speakers at the event represented the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, Rabbinate, community and women's groups, holocaust survivors and Jewish students and youth, among others.
Describing how difficult it was to come to Australia as a refugee, even a legal one, holocaust survivor Helen Light pointed out that her parents would have broken any law to escape Europe.
The vigil paraded with matzot, which is symbolic food eaten at Passover, recalling the escape from the slavery of Egypt more than 3000 years ago. The event concluded with an ancient song, Ha Lachma, one line of which states, "This year we are still in bonds; next year we all will be free". Finally, blasts from the ancient Jewish instrument, the Shofar or ram's horn, that brought Jericho's walls tumbling down were sounded. Its sounding is a call for the Jewish community to stand up for justice.
From Green Left Weekly, April 10, 2002.
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