Jewish groups around the world have donated over half a million pounds to the families of those killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand in March.
Organisations from the United States, Australia and New Zealand pledged the substantial sum this week after 52 people were killed in attacks on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques earlier this year.
Among the principal fundraisers for Christchurch was the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, which was hit with its own race-hate tragedy after a far-right gunman entered a synagogue in October last year, killing 11 people and injuring seven.
Stephen Goodman of the New Zealand Jewish Council said Jewish Americans, Australians and New Zealanders said there was a very natural desire to set up the NZ Abrahamic fund set up to support the country’s Islamic community.
“Our faith has a shared Abrahamic tradition, and Jews and Muslims have both suffered persecution and racism historically, and today,” he said. “The Jewish community, both in New Zealand and overseas, wanted the victims of the mosque attacks to know that we see them, we empathise with them, and we support them.”
Goodman added that “one of the first communities to get in touch was the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh in America,” saying: “Within hours of the attack on their synagogue last October the Muslim community started a fundraising campaign to support Jewish victims, and they wanted to repay that kindness.”
Other donations were offered by the New South Wales Jewish Community (represented by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies), the American Jewish Committee and the New Zealand Jewish community.
Collectively, they donated more than NZD $1.1m, which equates to about £580,000. The money will be spent on counselling, support services, medical treatment, financial planning services, education and vocational training.
Organisers said it was “designed to offer a response to the long term needs of a community who have been forever changed by the events”.
Paul Deavoll of the Christchurch Foundation, which is to administer the fund, said: “We know that the Jewish community in Pittsburgh especially has a deep understanding of the effects of the tragedy that unfolded here… We are grateful to all the communities that have donated.”
Ibrar Sheikh from the Federation of Islamic Associations NZ said it was “very gratefully received,” adding: “The events of 15 March 2019 have had a deep and lasting impact on the Muslim community in New Zealand.
“To know that our Jewish brothers and sisters understand what we have gone through, and are still going through, and are there to help us in our recovery is very important to us.”