Gershon Baskin, Michal Schonbrun and Elisha Baskin lighting Hanukkah Candles

Being Jewish in 2013

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Gershon Baskin shares his views on what it means to be Jewish on 2013

Click here to Listen to Gershon Baskin share his views on Being Jewish in 2013″ from ABC (Australian) national radio by Sunday nights with John Cleary.

We begin this week a question. What is it to be Jewish today?

For most in Australia this is essentially a matter of tradition, expressed as Orthodox, Conservative or Reform.

Yet today, around the globe matters of faith are increasingly compounded by issues of national, political and ethnic identity. This is just one of the themes we will be pursing with our guests from the Limmud Oz Jewish Festival, taking place this weekend.

Limmud Oz is Australia’s annual Festival of Jewish learning and culture. It began in 1999 and is now hosted alternately by the Sydney and Melbourne Jewish communities.

This year Melbourne will run a Yom Limmud, an afternoon devoted to pluralist Jewish learning and culture, on 16 June at Monash University Caulfield Campus following Limmud Oz in Sydney.


  • Gershon Baskin Gershon Baskin was the initiator and the person responsible for the secret back channel between Israel and the Hamas that successfully negotiated the release of Israeli abducted soldier Gilad Schalit. Baskin is the Co-Chairman and founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), a joint Israeli-Palestinian public policy think and “do”-tank located in Jerusalem, and has worked for decades in the field of Jewish-Arab relations within Israel, for which he won a number of awards. He served as an advisor on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to a secret team of intelligence officers established by Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and was a member of the Jerusalem Experts Committee established by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office during the Final Status Negotiations in 2000-2001. Baskin holds a Ph.D. in International Affairs from University of Greenwich and is a member of the steering committee of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum and several other like-minded organisations.
  • Gilad Kariv, Gilad Kariv is Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and has been a leader and advocate on behalf of liberal Judaism in Israel since 1998. He has advanced legal and social activism on behalf of religious pluralism and social justice in Israeli society in diverse capacities. He is a board member of the Jewish Agency’s Joint Institute for Jewish Studies and Hemdat: The Israel Association for the Promotion of Freedom of Science, Religion and Culture. Gilad has served in the positions of Associate Director and Director of Public Policy and Social Action at IMPJ’s Israel Religious Action Centre, and is also a committee member of the Knesset’s project to establish an Israeli Constitution. Gilad Kariv is a guest of the UPJ
  • Mark Baker, Mark Baker is Director of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation and Associate Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies in the School of Historical Studies, Monash University. He completed his DPhil at Oxford University and was twice a Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Before moving to Monash, he was a lecturer in Jewish history at the University of Melbourne and he has taught widely in the fields of modern Jewish history, the Holocaust and genocide, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and terrorism in modern conflict
  • Donna Jacobs-Sife, One of Australia’s best known storytellers, she is also a published writer, educator and social activist. For nearly two decades she has traveled widely throughout the world teaching and telling stories that speak to the perennial challenges of humanity.

John Cleary

John Cleary has been described as 'one of Australia's leading commentators on religious affairs'. He is a member of the ABC's specialist Religion unit and is often heard as a commentator on Religious issues for ABC Radio and Television.

He is best known for his years with Radio National as presenter of 'The Religion Report' and, prior to that, the philosophy program 'Meridian'. He was part of the original 'Compass' team on ABC TV, and was for several years a weekly part of the Triple J morning program with Angela Catterns and Jen Oldershaw.

In 1994 his book on the Salvation Army in Australia 'Salvo' was awarded Australian Religious Book of the Year.

During his career with the ABC John has worked for extended periods in Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney. John's appointment to Sunday Night on local Radio in 2001, marks a welcome return to a spot John occupied on Local and Metropolitan Radio in the early 90's.

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