Melbourne Jewish Temple’s Interfaith Deception!


This week’s Jewish News featured an article – Music Bridges Faith Traditions – about a Sacred Music Concert held at Temple Beth Israel (TBI), “bringing together performers and communities from Melbourne’s Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Indigenous traditions”.

The concert was based around composer Ernest Bloch’s Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service), combined with a series of psalms and prayers, including Psalm 150, with its exhortation for all to praise G-d with music and dancing. The text is beloved by both Jews and Christians, with the message that there are a variety of ways one can praise G-d, and forms a perfect backdrop for promoting harmony and understanding

TBI Cantor Michel Laloum organized this event, which “under the baton of acclaimed conductor Douglas Heywood… featured the 57-piece Camerata orchestra and over 170 choral singers”.

All well and good, but the second half of the concert took on a different dimension, bringing “something new to TBI’s sanctuary, the Muslim call to prayer, and a chanting of the 55th Surah of the Koran. With this recitation Abdul Aziz al Mathkour and Brother Waseem Razvi of the Islamic research Education Academy (IREA) revealed many points of commonality between Judaism and Islam in its languages and texts”

Excuse my cynicism, but what points of commonality can possibly exist when Surah 55 describes how Muslim men will enjoy deflowering virgins in paradise, whilst the unbeliever will suffer the torments of hell.

For a community that prides itself on being progressive, particularly with regard to gender issues, it’s hard to see how they can condone this Sura, especially as there is no promise that women can equally enjoy endless sex. The progressives constantly berate orthodox Jewry for separating men and women during prayer, yet apparently have no problem endorsing men using women for sex, which smacks of hypocrisy. Moreover, if they truly believe in interfaith tolerance, they should surely object to the fate that awaits non-Muslims.

There was also a rendition of Dona Nobis Pacem from the Roman Catholic mass. Cantor Laloum described the piece as “an acknowledgment of the loyalty of each faith to its history and culture while building bridges and fostering new friendships”.

Sorry Cantor Laloum, but you aren’t showing loyalty to your faith, which strictly forbids proselytizing and believes we are all made in the image of G-d. Surely there can be no real friendship with those who show such contempt for women and non-Muslims.

Compounding the offense was the gross deception involved. In previous advertising for the concert, no mention was made of the Islamic Call to Prayer. TBI put out the following:

Sacred Music Concert | A Celebration

TBI has historically been a leader in interfaith dialogue within the Melbourne community.  Rabbi Dr Herman Sanger was a leading proponent of interfaith dialogue, as are Rabbi Dr. John Levi and Rabbi Fred Morgan.


TBI will once again be taking the lead in creating a whole new world of interfaith dialogue and exploration through the June 15 2014 concert “Sacred Music – A Celebration”.  Based around Ernest Bloch’s major Jewish work, Avodat Hakodesh, followed by a series of psalms and prayers common to various religious traditions, TBI will be hosting the first Victorian gala interfaith choral concert – Sacred Music Concert.

Performers will include members from the Camberwell Choral and the Camerata Orchestra under the baton of Doug Heywood OAM, along with the combined TBI and PJV choirs, members of the Tudor Choristers, the Salvation Army Choir, the Canterbury Anglican Church Choir, and members of several other choirs, all combined to perform these works in harmony. Choir performances will be preceded by an Aboriginal Welcome to Country.

What better metaphor is there than bringing hundreds of musicians and audience together in singing in harmony the words “grant us peace and blessing” in Hebrew (Sim Shalom), Latin (Dona Nobis Pacem) and Arabic (Hablana Asalem)?

Tikkun olam is about acting on our convictions – and so I invite one and all to not simply ‘talk the talk’, but to proverbially “walk the walk” in attending and participating in this opportunity to get to know and to de-mystify the “Other” in our “Sacred Music .

Note how in this TBI preview, there is no mention of an Islamic Call to Prayer. Could it be they didn’t want to deter people from coming? At $35 a ticket ($30 concession), and with 700 attending, ticket sales would have netted between $21,000 and $24,500, which even after expenses, would have given them a tidy profit.

The Rev. Dr. Mark Durie, an Anglican priest and human rights campaigner, has long warned about the folly of allowing Muslims to pray in the sacred spaces of others. In a Washington Times article, he explains:

A prominent element in Islamic daily prayers is the recitation of Al-Fatihah (the Opening), the first chapter of the Koran… After introductory praises, the final sentence of Al-Fatihah is a request for guidance “in the straight path” of Allah’s blessed ones, not the path “of those against whom You are wrathful, nor of those who are astray.”

Who are the ones who are said to be under Allah’s wrath or to have gone astray from his straight path? According to the revered commentator Ibn Kathir, Muhammad himself gave the answer: “Those who have earned the anger are the Jews, and those who are led astray are the Christians.”

Al-Fatihah is as central to Islamic devotion as the Lord’s Prayer is to Christians: It is recited at least 17 times a day as part of daily Muslim prayers. Yet according to Muhammad himself, this prayer, which is on the lips of every pious Muslim day and night, castigates Christians as misguided and Jews as objects of Allah’s wrath.

…Churches should not welcome into their buildings the veneration of Isa the Islamic Jesus, who, as a true Muslim, is intended to bring about the final, violent destruction of Christianity. By all means, let Christians show kindness to their Muslim neighbors, but the sentiments embedded in Islamic daily prayers, which curse Jews as the target of Allah’s wrath and Christians for going astray, can have no place in a Christian church – even if recited in the cadences of classical Arabic.

The Blog, ‘ Political UNCOMMON Sense’ writes:

 Muslim Prayers in a Synagogue – spectacular case of useful idiots!

Brother Waseem Razvi with Rabbi Gersh

 The guests include: IREA (Islamic Research and Education Academy) which promotes Dawah (objective of converting non Muslims to Islam)

Gosh, it’s hard to know where to start on this one. This is absolutely typical of jihad by stealth when Dawah meets useful idiots who are ignorant regarding Islam but do like feel- good schmoozing. It is wrong from a hallachic (Jewish legal) perspective.

The most generous view one could take is that Temple Beth is so carried away with its left wing progressive reform philosophy that they really have no idea.

In each of the five daily ritual prayers, Muslims around the world pray the opening Sura of the Qur’an ending in the two verses,

“Guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom You have favoured with guidance, not [the path] of those against whom there is wrath, nor of those who are astray.” [Sura 1:6-7]… Muslim scholars are in unanimous agreement that “those against whom there is wrath” are the Jews… While “those who are astray” are identified as being the Christians.

Thus embedded within the formal daily prayers of all muslims (1.6 Billion Muslims worldwide) is a condemnation of Jews and Christians which is essentially a curse. (For those of you who would really like to know about this subject, I recommend this book: )

Here is the posting on IREA Facebook page. Make sure you watch this video clip which contains the Islamic prayers.

(By way of contrast, non Muslims are not even allowed to enter certain Islamic venues including the entire city of Mecca! And of course conversion FROM Islam has the potential penalty of death.)

Such a level of ignorance and its consequent behaviour is frankly grossly inappropriate and potentially dangerous.

I would like to see Temple Beth Israel get some feedback from our readers. Please do a short email to  or call them on 03 95101488.

In the Jewish and Christian tradition, we tend to think of prayers and supplications to G-d as an expression of the individual’s desire to connect with the Divine.

The phrase ‘those who have incurred your wrath” comes from Surah 2:61 which says,

Shame and misery were stamped upon [the Israelites] and they incurred the wrath of Allah; because they disbelieved Allah’s signs and slew His prophets unjustly; because they were rebels and transgressors.

Surah 63 condemns “hypocrites,” those who have renounced their Muslim faith.

“They are the enemy. Guard yourself against them.”

Sadly, I have to agree with ‘Political UNCOMMON Sense’ that Temple Beth have proved once again to be useful idiots par excellence. But this goes back a long way: in 2005 former TBI Rabbi, Fred Morgan, held an inter-faith model Passover seder for Jews and Muslims. The Intercultural Society reported –

“As part of the joint B’nai B’rith-Australian Intercultural Society Building Bridges project, around 80 Jews and Muslims gathered for an abridged version of the ritual Passover meal, led by Rabbi Fred Morgan.”

Why abridged, you may ask. The answer –

“To accommodate the Muslim participants, grape juice was served instead of wine and the invocation “l’shana haba’ah b’Yerushalayim” (Next Year in Jerusalem) was omitted from the edited Haggadah.”

“It reminds us that we are required to speak out for freedom for all people” Morgan said.

How on earth can denying your own customs be speaking out for freedom? The four glasses of wine are a part of the Jewish ritual. As for preventing Jews’ expressing their yearning to return to their ancient homeland (which has never been the homeland of the Palestinians, despite historical revisionism by the Islamists and their far-left fellow travellers), this is just craven behaviour unworthy of a Jew.

Rabbi Morgan claimed the omission was made so as to “be sensitive to the foundations” of the Building Bridges project — and to avoid the event from becoming political. But surely it was he who politicized the foundation, by denying freedom of religion to Jews, in order to appease a political movement. Moderate Muslims would respect the right of of Jews to practice their religion. Isn’t reciprocity what building bridges is supposed to be all about?

By staging this concert with an unannounced call to prayer, TBI has betrayed those who came along in good faith to hear the music. At the least, they should offer a full refund to those who came, and an apology to the Jewish community at large for their appalling lapse of judgment.

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  1. Morry Sztainbok

    Excellent article. Perhaps the most noteworthy is that Jews are bending over backwards to be inclusive, to the point of abandoning part of themselves. The Muslims chose something exclusive, something that recognised only Islam as a true religion. They did this whilst a guest in somebody else’s house of worship. This is not dialogue, but it does bring Shakespeare’s words from Hamlet home “To thine own self be true”. That is the basis for earning respect, no matter the culture … and Jews currently suffer a wave of hostility and antisemitism for having forgotten that wisdom. Put simply, people view us with contempt for failing to announce to the world “L’Shana Habaa BiYerushalayin” and for failing to support our people and homeland. For losing our truth … and, it seems that we can’t fall over ourselves fast enough to abandon it in the hopes of placating those who hate us.

  2. Shame on TBI for not only allowing Islamic supremacy (a prayer that insults Jews) but for curbing Jewish traditions to appease Islam.

    TBI is fast becoming irrelevant

  3. Warren Raymond

    Good article, spot on!

    Strangely overlooked is the fact that music is ‘haram’, forbidden in Islam:

    “The Prophet said that Allah commanded him to destroy all the musical instruments, idols, crosses and all the trappings of ignorance” (Hadith Qudsi 19:5).

    We have nothing in common. The kumbaya Jews need to get smacked with a clue bat:

  4. Thanks Pam. I suppose you saw what is being referred to as a ‘Brave German Woman?’

    • Thanks for this link Vickie. I’ve been looking for it. I forgot to save it.

    • Vickie, no I hadn’t seen this. I just wish there would have been ONE brave Jew in the audience who had shown the “holy anger” that this brave German woman displayed. I am mortified that not one Jews stood up and objected. Where are our values and our moral compasses?

      Interesting that the Christian from the Middle East told how, once the call to prayer is allowed, the church is not a church any more; it’s a mosque.

      • The Orthodox Christian Church won’t be taken over by the Muslim ummah or by anyone else. While totalitarian tyrants (be they communist, fascist, Islamic, or anything else) often destroy our buildings and martyr our believers, they have no mechanism for co-opting us.

        Our rules specifically forbid Orthodox Christians from participating in the worship of other faiths. No worship practices other than our own are allowed to take place on church property. Our practices can’t be changed; we have used the same style of worship and have kept the same doctrines since 33 AD.

        • 1389AD, I admire that stance, which is the only moral one to take. Unfortunately, many Western churches and synagogues prefer to forsake their own faith in order to appease Islam, which will lead not only to the destruction of their sacred buildings, but of their own faiths.

  5. Geoff Dickson

    Great article, Pam. Unfortunately now that Islamic prayers have been given, that makes BMI a site that Islam will claim as theirs. When Caliph Umar captured Jerusalem circa 637AD, Bishop Sophronius invited Umar to join him in prayers. Umar declined and stated that if he prayed there, Muslims would claim it as their ground.
    The Quran calls on Muslims to hate Jews and Christians, not to befriend them and of course to fight against them.
    I don’t understand why anyone who follows Islam should be invited to utter verses cursing Jews and Christians.

    • Geoff, are you saying that Temple Beth can now be claimed as a holy site for Islam? I’d be very interested to know the authority for this.

    • Our Progressive Useful Jewish dhimmis

    • Michael, while this video is pretty shocking, as least you have to admit this Dawah group have made their intentions clear.

      Unlike TBI, which made no mention at all of inviting a group to do Dawah in their sacred space. By this omission, TBI have deceived all those who attended the concert, as well as many members of their community, who would have been unaware of the trickery that was being perpetrated in their Temple.

      There is NO excuse. Rabbi Morgan is an expert in comparative religion and he knows about Islam. He could have warned those organising the conference against this, but he is shown in the Jewish News smiling and obviously enjoying it all.

  6. Rabbi Morgan [ and Rabbi Ralph Genende] are going down the same path as the Muslim Clerics who we all criticise ,mixing religion and Politics.
    Rabbis should not be trying to indoctrinate their congregants and subject them to their leftist ideology.
    My advise to them is stick to their Rabbinical day jobs .

    • Michael, I agree. Also Rabbi Keren Black of Leo Baeck is intensely political.
      One can only guess at their motives, but it certainly makes them in demand as speakers for the interfaith cause, with lots of kudos and invitations to various shindigs, whereas those Rabbis who refuse to follow this dubious path are largely ignored.

  7. Samuel Dinkels

    There is an even more nefarious motive here for chanting the Muslim call to prayer in the Synagogue. Since now this has been a place of Muslim prayer, it is now by their standards a Muslim place of worship. Therefore, it is now an Islamic holy site. And as such, its Jewish status is nullified, while it is now the target for future takeover and conversion into a Mosque.

    It is the same way with every Jewish holy site in history, beginning with the Temple Mount.

  8. Samuel, That’s something that I have been thinking, that once the Muslim call to prayer is chanted, that building becomes an Islamic holy site, and is no longer a Jewish place of worship. As you say, that has certainly happened with the Temple Mount – the holiest place to Jews – where Islam took over and Jews are no longer allowed to pray there.

    I just wonder if Temple Beth are aware of the implications. Hopefully their foolish actions will serve as a wake up call to other congregations thinking of treading this interfaith path.

    • Pam the same happens everywhere. Look at Hebron, look at Shechem and look at Christian holy sites too, the most famous being in Spain at Cordoba.

      • Shirlee, you’re quite right. What I want to know is can this be applied to Temple Beth as well, and what are the implications?

  9. Samuel Dinkels is spot on when he makes the point about a Muslim call to Prayer in a Synagogue .

    In our interview last week with Islam scholar Dr Mark Durie he specifically refers to this in his explanation about Islam and the Jews. DR Durie stated that no Muslim prayer should be allowed in a Synagogue if this has happened in TBI [ I wasn’t there so I don’t know } then that Synagogue becomes a Muslim place of worship>

    Dr Mark Durie Interview>

  10. Peter Callaghan

    An excellent article, Pam. I’d say “timely” but the time has long gone when warnings such as this would have impact on the useful idiot mindset. I share the sentiment of all commenters here ~ disbelief in the naiveté displayed by Temple Beth Israel and a certain disgust at their craven scraping and bowing before the Mohamedan false God. The line in the sand is very clear in contemporary Australia. Temple Beth Israel needs to make a wise decision about who they classify as “fellow travelers”.

    • Peter, sadly I think Temple Beth and other progressives long ago chose who they wished to travel with. One thing I’ve learned is that people with a totalitarian mindset never admit that they made a mistake, even when the evidence that they did is staring them in the face.