Australia: Yes We Can

Sydney’s The Jewish House has launched its annual drive to collect food for the needy with a record 25 Coles Supermarkets participating across Sydney…and has introduced a new parter, the al-Ghazzali Centre.

Afroz Ali, Rabbi Mendel Kastel and Coles’ Fernando pic: Henry benjamin

The Jewish House’s CEO Rabbi Mendel Kastel told J-Wire: “The Centre is very enthusiastic about their involvement. We will also have involvement in the project from Visy, Fairfax and the ANZ Bank. The program used to run for a week to 10 days but Coles have agreed, given its past success, to extend it to three weeks.” The program already works with the Reverend Bill Crews’ Exodus project.

The “Yes We Can” campaign encourages shoppers to buy an extra can of food and drop it into boxes at the checkouts. The food is brought to a central warehouse where it is distributed to those in need. Both The Jewish House and the al-Ghazzali Centre will provide volunteers to man the check-out areas to encourage shoppers to participate.

The founder and president of Lakemba’s al-Ghazzali Centre, Afroz Ali, told J-Wire: “Our centre has three objectives: education, inter-faith projects and active participations in projects like this…especially on an inter-religious basis. We run the Halal food bank as there is a rising number of needy Muslims in the lower social-economic areas. Halal has the same added costs as Kosher over regular food prices. Many cannot afford Halal food and are compelled to follow a vegetarian diet. We work with Barnardo’s, and the Rev Bill Crews’ Exodus project.  This ‘Yes We Can’ project with Rabbi Kastel will enable us to get more to the needy.”

He added that the centre is not a mosque and has no membership. It deals with cases on a need-be basis…and offers assistance to the needy irrespective of their religion.

Afroz Ali told J-Wire that he had worked previously on projects with Rabbi Zalman Kastel and with the Emanuel Synagogue. He said that within the Muslim community there is a greater awareness of the inter-faith work being carried out.

The expansion will expose The Jewish House’s drive to feed the needy in areas of Sydney where it has not operated before and where it is not known.

Rabbi Kastel told J-Wire that there are Kosher sections in about half the stores.

The campaign will finish shortly before Rosh Hashana giving the Jewish House time to distribute food to needy members of the Jewish community.

Coles operate Halal sections in supermarkets in areas with a large Muslim population.