Australia's Jews urged to take more critical line

AUSTRALIA'S Jewish community must stop slavishly following the Israeli government line, which is compromising the most essential values of democracy, influential Israeli journalist David Landau said yesterday.

''Democracy in Israel is at a crossroads,'' said Landau, former editor of the important daily newspaper Haaretz and now Jerusalem correspondent for The Economist.

''We are at a defining moment in our nation, and the Melbourne community is part of the nation. It needs to join the robust debates happening inside Israel,'' he said.

Blocking the stream

An Education Department edict to end the Steiner program at an inner-west primary seems to contradict a state government push to make schools more autonomous.

LUCA Cernaz no longer wears his school uniform to Footscray City Primary School. It's a small act of defiance. ''They say to wear a uniform if you're proud of the school,'' Luca says. ''Now I just think of all the negatives of the school and everything they have done to us.''

Luca, 11, is one of 120 students enrolled in the Steiner stream at the school whose lives were disrupted by a note in their school

Alan Godfrey Rosendorff 29-1-1953 – 6-11-2011

A fighter for dignity in life and death

COMMERCIAL LAWYER, SOCIAL REFORMER

Obituary by Gerry Carman

Alan Rosendorff, who book-ended his active life with work against the evils of apartheid in South Africa, and for the terminally ill to have the choice of dying with dignity in Australia, has died of cancer at home in South Caulfield (Melbourne). He was 58.

The straight and narrow

I am same-sex attracted. We should all disclose sources of bias and potential conflicts of interest up front in a transparent manner. It's a shame so many politicians, commentators and members of the general public aren't called upon to disclose their bias before declaring what is good for hetero and homosexual members of society.

Spirituality's fine by us but there's little faith in religion

AUSTRALIANS see spirituality as quite separate from religion, with the former much more widely accepted, according to the results of a national survey to be released in Melbourne today.

What they really dislike is celebrities endorsing religion, stories of healing and miracles, and doctrines about homosexuality and hell.

Commissioned by Olive Tree media, the survey of 1094 people shows that while Australians are generally open to spirituality, they feel they are unlikely to find it in church.

Australian religious education '19th century'

RELIGION and ethics taught from a secular perspective might well be included in the new national curriculum, according to Professor Barry McGaw, head of the board responsible for the curriculum.

Professor McGaw, chairman of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, said religion and ethics would be included in a discussion paper early next year for the civics and citizenship course.

Cable loop lets Melbourne's Orthodox Jews feel at home

SEVERAL kilometres of Melbourne electricity wire and fibre-optic cable have been employed to help fulfil a 3000-year-old religious requirement.

They act as a wall around several thousand Orthodox Jews, enabling them to treat the enclosed area as a metaphorical home, without which they would be housebound on the Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath).

Reading the lesson at site of the sacred open heart

Father Bob Maguire says he's ''a bit sacred-site obsessed''. He thinks his church, St Peter and St Paul's Catholic Church in South Melbourne, the city's oldest parish, is a sacred site.

When I visit, he takes me round the lawn in front of it, introducing me to the various memorials. One is a list of young people who died from drugs or drug-related violence during his early years.

Marriage of equality is a core value for all to hold dear

When my parents married in 1967, Australia was still dismantling the White Australia policy. While a marriage between a Chinese man from Malaysia, and an Australian from the Adelaide Hills was not illegal, it was certainly unusual. Nevertheless, bans on inter-racial marriage were not unknown in Western democracies of the time. That year, the US Supreme Court struck down laws in various American states prohibiting interracial marriage. Changing laws didn't change public opinion; a year later 72 per cent of Americans remained opposed to interracial marriage.

A matter of conscience or convenience?

The PM is out of touch with her party and the country.

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