June 2020, AFL Multicultural Ambassador

Dear Friends,

Earlier this year I was selected to be an AFL multicultural community ambassador and as part of this role I work with other community and faith leaders to strengthen community cohesion and togetherness through the AFL.

As part of this role, faith and community leaders were invited to send in a short video submission, demonstrating how excited they were that footy was back. I am thrilled to report I was selected as the winner and now own a West Coast Eagles jumper signed by AFL player Ambassador Nic Naitanui.

This role has opened my eyes to many different things that leaders can do to foster a deeper sense of connection. Being part of the AFL, in my own very small way, has improved my understanding of the importance of cross-cultural communication skills. It has also demonstrated how sport crosses all boundaries and that there are no barriers to watching and enjoying a football game. This is something common to Australians of all faiths, backgrounds and ages. Just this week, there was a racist incident involving Carlton Footballer Eddie Betts, who was racially vilified for his Aboriginal heritage.

Being an AFL multicultural and community ambassador also helps me to understand the ways that leaders can take active roles to help further develop community programs and contribute to positive community health outcomes. Good leaders use their commitment and passion to drive projects and causes that are close to their hearts which helps to inspire others and empower people. We have to take a stance against any forms of hate, racism or lack of tolerance.

Strong leaders use their decision making capabilities to steer their communities to make accountable and confident decisions. Exceptional leaders build relationships and communities through their innovation, commitment and dedication. I am just beginning my journey as an AFL multicultural ambassador and am very excited to see where this journey takes me.
Interestingly, this week’s Parsha, Shelach, shows a very disappointing failure of leadership in Jewish history. At the request of Moshe, the Jewish people send spies to investigate the land of Israel. These spies were not lay people. They were the cream of the crop of each tribe, the Nasi (prince) that was supposed to exude good leadership and moral courage.

Upon returning from the land of Israel, instead of showing strong leadership, 10 of the spies spoke ill of the land of Israel and sent the people of Israel into a panic with the people echoing their leaders by subsequently declaring that the Land of Israel was unsuitable and uninhabitable. While two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb exhorted the people that the land of Israel is an exceedingly good land, their attempt at strong leadership was met with protest.

The 10 spies demonstrated poor integrity, lack of adaptability and little vision for the future. Their communication was poor and their lack of accountability for their actions lead to the people of Israel being exiled into the desert for 40 years until the generation that had rejected the land of Israel died out.

This week, as we enter Shabbat I will certainly be reflecting on the importance of strong leadership. I feel privileged to represent our community in many forums, both in the Jewish and wider communities,
The Australian way has always been to promote tolerance, multiculturalism, harmony and togetherness. I understand that leadership is a privilege and responsibility. Together we can begin to work on ourselves to use our potential for these Australian values which will help our society to become more cohesive and collaborative.

Finally, I would like to extend a personal invite to all of you to join me this upcoming Tuesday 23 June at 7.30 for my weekly shiur. As part of this discussion I will be looking at the two recent Adam Goodes documentaries, further information can be found above. This promises to be an enlightening and thoughtful discussion.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Gabi