Judaism’s Great Prayer: Hear, O Israel (Sh’ma Yisrael)

Blue Sky Clouds and the Sun

One cannot overestimate the importance Sh’ma Yisrael (Hear, O Israel ) has in Jewish heritage throughout the generations. In many cases, these were the only “Jewish words” that Jews, who lived in remote places and who heard them from their ancestors, knew. The “marranos” in Spain and Portugal passed them on from parent to child, sometimes without knowing, their actual meaning but with profound understanding of their value. Many Jews, beginning with Rabbi Akivah and up to the victims of the Holocaust recited the Sh’ma with their last breath.

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Why Hindus do Circumambulation around the Deity?

pradakshina by ladiesHinduism is the oldest Civilisation and only one which is based on Science. In Hinduism whatever is practised is not only based on beliefs but there are scientific reasons behind each and every tradition. There are many images of Hindus walking around temples; this is called Circumambulation around the Deity and temple. Walking around the innermost chamber of the shrine of the temple is also called Circumambulation. Circumambulation is also done around fire, trees & plants.

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Judaism: Disney and Elul – what do they have in common?

Marvel Heroes

I am a huge fan of everything Disney – movies, Mickey, and now even Marvel. Our family has vacationed at Walt Disney World and Disneyland more times than we can count. Our daughter was married there, and we have a room in our home devoted to Disney “stuff.”

Believe it or not, some recent Disney movie releases have a distinct connection to the Days of Awe and in particular to our preparations during this month of Elul, as well as to Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.

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Light in the Darkness ~ Time Out for a Suffering World

Light in the Darkness ~ Time Out for a Suffering World

The Faith Communities Council of Victoria and the Victorian Council of Churches invite you to:

Light in the Darkness ~ Time Out for a Suffering World

Date: Monday 31 August 2020 Time: 7pm
Location: In your home

On the eve of Spring, an invitation from the faith communities of Victoria to be a light in the darkness.

As the last light of the last day of winter fades, stand in your front garden and spend some time in silence, perhaps light a candle, to remember all those who have lost their lives to the Coronavirus or to violence. Then, as the first night of spring begins, look to the future with prayer and hope. Let us move from the cold and the dark into warmth and light together.


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The role of Mysticism in fostering Interfaith Dialogue and Tolerance

Dalai Lama and Lawrence FreemanIn a world in which religious sectarianism and religiously-justified violence are all too common 1, the possibility that an essential mystic truth is shared by most if not all the world’s Great Religious Traditions, nurtures and strengthens the hope, that this discrimination and violence born of sectarianism may eventually be replaced by sincere and comprehensive interfaith dialogue and cooperation based on love, compassion and wisdom.

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Review: The Survival of the Jews in France, 1940-1944

The Survival of the Jews in France, 1940-44 (Oxford Press)In his new book The Survival of the Jews in France, 1940-44 (Oxford Press), Jacques Semelin, professor emeritus of history and political science at the Paris Institute of Political Science, focuses on a frequently overlooked statistic: 240,000 of the 320,000 Jews living in France in 1940 survived the war within that nation’s borders. After the French armed forces and national government quickly collapsed when Nazi Germany invaded in May 1940, the conquerors divided France into a German-occupied area in the north and a pro-Nazi Vichy regime, the “Free Zone,” in the south. In both regions, French police and gendarmes were zealous in rounding up Jews for deportation “to the East,” a euphemism for German death camps.

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Third Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership Summit

Centre for Optimism logo

“Young People Leading with Optimism Through the Pandemic and Beyond”

The Third Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership Summit promises to be an exciting and engaging event for young and old alike on Tuesday 15 September 10 am (Australian East Coast time).

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in the usual venue city of Shepparton, this event will be online and open to youth globally.

There will be shorter speeches, break-outs for the participants to share their reflections, and sufficient time for Q&A and student replies.

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Muharram: Islamic New Year

Al Hijri

Across the globe, muslims observe their New Year on the first day of Muharram (meaning prohibited or barred), the second holiest month after Ramadan (a period of fasting called Sawm). This day is also known as Al Hijri or the Islamic New Year. Muharram is one of the most sacred months of the Islamic calendar, which has about 354 days, unlike the Gregorian calendar that consists of 365 days. The day also marks the migration of Prophet Muhammed from Mecca to Medina. This year, Muhurram is observed on August 20th, 2020.

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Ganesh Chaturthi

VighneswaraGanesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is the birthday of Hindu God Ganesha (Vinayaka – Ganapati), the God of wisdom, prosperity, and auspiciousness. Ganesh Chaturthi 2020 date is Saturday, August 22 – information based on Hindu calendar in India. This Ganpati Festival in 2020 ends with the immersion (Visarjan) of the idol on Anant Chaturdashi day – September 1, 2020.
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A Buddhist reflects: How to read the News


News comes to us via radio waves, television, print and social media. Some news services churn it out 24 hours, 7 days a week. What is the news we need to know and abide? How can we take up the news and keep ourselves informed, with spiritual sense and common sense? Is your personal spiritual practice impacted by the news?

For some people, the news can be the noose. That is, it captures you, your intellect and even your common sense, poise and balance. Our emotions can be evoked, we can become gossips, and live to be first with the news. Even social media can be a noose around our necks, with FOMO, fear of missing out driving the swipe left on the phone.

News should be something that has balance. It is spelled N-E-W-S, standing for North, East, West and South. It comes from all directions, hence it should be balanced in its presentation and not cater to specific agenda, editorial interference nor seek to mislead the public.

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Jain Festival: Paryushana Parvarambha

MahaviraParyushana is the most important annual holy event for Jains and is usually celebrated in August or September in the Indian calendar Month of Bhadrapada. At this time (an 8 or 10 day observance) Jains increase their level of spiritual intensity using fasting and prayer/meditation as aids. It is also a time of reading of scriptures, and seeking forgiveness for sins committed in the past year.
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Feast of Assumption at Lourdes 2020

Lourdes basilicaThe Roman Catholic church’s annual Assumption celebrations took place in Lourdes on Saturday with fewer pilgrims than usual making the trip to the south-west of France because of the global health crisis.
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Earth Overshoot Day for 2020

Earth Overshoot Day

Churches are coming together to toll their bells and hold prayer services to mark Earth Overshoot Day. The tolling bells will warn demise for God’s Creation as we know it on Earth – if we do not repent but instead continue down the destructive path that we have been following.

This year Earth Overshoot Day will fall on 22 August. To maximise publicity about this solemn milestone day, church bells will toll shortly before midday on Friday 21 August to alert people to Earth Overshoot Day the next day.

What is Earth Overshoot Day?

Earth Overshoot Day is the day when humanity’s demands for ecological resources (fresh water, fish, forests, etc), exceeds what the Earth can renew in a year.

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Religion and ceremony: Regional Victoria stage 3

Wedding Ceremony

You cannot attend a religious service – the Victorian Government encourages you to use online services instead to engage people in worship.

Weddings can have a maximum of five people (the couple, two witnesses and the celebrant).

Funerals will be restricted to 10 mourners plus people required to conduct the funeral. You can travel to attend a funeral.

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Birthday of Lord Krishna

Bala Krishna

Janmashtami, birthday of Lord Krishna, is based on calendars followed in India. It is also called Gokulashtami, Krishnashtami, and Sri Krishna Jayanti – all refer to the birthday of Lord Krishna. Sri Krishna Jayanti 2020 date in West, East and Southern parts of India is on August 11. In North India, it is on August 12, 2020. It is observed as Dahi Handi in Maharashtra, the formation of the huge human pyramids to break the pot hung high up.

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World Day of Indigenous Peoples

World Day of Indigenous Peoples

There are an estimated 476 million indigenous peoples in the world living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.

Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Despite their cultural differences, indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples.

In this article, we we look to the Closing the Gap reforms by the Australian Government, the impact of Covid-19 on indigenous peoples and Indigenous spirituality.

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Honouring the World’s Indigenous Peoples

World's Indigenous PeoplesThe World Council of Churches will join many in honouring indigenous communities across the world on 9 August. Designated by the United Nations as “International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples,” this year the day is particularly honouring indigenous people for seeking unique solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for leading the way in sustainable living in a post-COVID-19 era.
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Government assistance for temporary and provisional visa holders – coronavirus (COVID-19)

Live in Melbourne

A range of government assistance is available to temporary and provisional visa holders impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19). For more information please contact the agency responsible or visit the website listed.

The range of assistance available includes,

  • Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment
  • Face masks and coverings
  • Temporary changes to the Seasonal Worker Programme, Pacific Labour Scheme and the Working Holiday Maker visa program
  • Support for job seekers
  • Support for renters
  • Support for International Students
  • Relief payments for temporary visa holders
  • Support for multicultural and multifaith families
  • Relaxation of work hours for international students working in medical and disability sectors
  • Support for public housing and people experiencing homelessness
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health workforce response
  • Hotels for Heroes
  • Support for Businesses

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