Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Museums Together – a joint education pgm bw

Students from The King David School and Sirius College participating in the Museums Together program. Photos: Peter Haskin.

Rebecca Davis, ‘Now we can start to become friends’, Australian Jewish News, 2 December 2019

Museums Together – a joint education program between the Jewish Museum of Australia and the Islamic Museum of Australia – recently brought 100 Jewish and Muslim students together.

In a world so often marked by divisions, an initiative which encourages togetherness between the next generation of Jewish and Muslim children recently took place.

Museums Together, a collaboration between the Jewish Museum of Australia (JMA) and the Islamic Museum of Australia (IMA) brought together 100 students from The King David School and Sirius College to learn about each other’s religion, culture, language and identity.

The children trained as guides at their respective museums and acted as hosts when their counterparts visited, and participated in activities as one.

King David students at the Islamic Museum of Australia.

The program encapsulated “the transformative power of museums to celebrate difference, reveal commonalities and build bridges through shared storytelling and inspired curiosity,” enthused newly appointed JMA director and CEO, Jessica Bram.

Two years ago, the JMA – with support of the IMA – received a three year grant from the Sidney Myer Fund in order to develop and deliver the grassroots program with students from Jewish and Islamic schools. And so, beginning in July, five sessions were held between the JMA and the IMA in conjunction with the Immigration Museum, Melbourne Playback Theatre Company and St Kilda Shule.

Students work together doing activities as part of the Museums Together program.

“It was such an honour and privilege to be involved in the Museums Together program. Seeing Jewish and Muslim students who would rarely have the opportunity to get to know people from each others backgrounds, coming together sharing stories, experiences, similarities and learning to respect difference was so rewarding,” reflected IMA director of education and community engagement, Sherene Hassan.

Together, the children baked challah and made traditional date crescent treats; learnt how to write their names in Hebrew and Arabic; and drew Magen Davids and 16 point stars of Islamic geometry.

But most importantly, they talked.

Here are some snapshots of what the experience meant to them.

Mysha
Year 6, Sirius College

 I was born in Pakistan and so were both of my parents. We came to Australia one year ago. I think this program was really great because you get to learn about other religions and you get to learn that your religion isn’t the only one.

My favourite part would be when I was doing activities with the Jewish people. I liked the blindfold activity, and I liked the cooking activity as well, when we made challah. I learnt about the kosher diet and what Jewish people eat. I was kind of surprised to see similarities between kosher and halal! I learnt that both of us have celebrations, and we both pray to God. I learnt about some important artefacts like the scrolls, and I learnt more about Chanukah. I also saw the differences between how we celebrate, so how Chanukah lasts for longer, and our celebrations last for a day, or like three days. Also, the difference between who we worship.

I think if I now met a Jewish person, I might feel more comfortable because I know more about them, their religion and what they worship, and I think I might even make friends with them.

The differences between our religion maybe might have once driven us apart, but now I think, now that we are a bit more modern we can start to become friends.

This experience has just reminded me of my religion a bit more, and it has reminded me that when I pray, I can think about other people who can also pray to their Gods.

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Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2020
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