Where interfaith work and social justice intersect, with Rev Pippa Jones

Rev Pippa Jones

by Gwynne Robins

We can always benefit from being exposed to ideas from outsiders.

Such was the experience of members of the Cape SAJBD’s Interfaith and Intercommunity subcommittee and guests from Ikamva Labantu, Healing of the Memories and Mensch when we attended a Zoom meeting with Rev Pippa Jones.

She was visiting Cape Town as an intern for the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative as part of her Master’s thesis on Building Inter-Religious Relations through the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. Pippa was collecting material for her thesis on how interfaith activity could help social justice and was working under Iman Dr Rashied Omar.

“9/11 changed me”, she told them.She had been working in New York and was near the Twin Towers when the planes struck and she made a vow that she wanted to dedicate the rest of her life being part of the answer by working in social activism. She had taught English in England, Prague, Vietnam, Sydney and Melbourne and returned to university to do another degree in comparative religions, qualified to be an interfaith minister and started to work with indigenous people.

In Australia, she found that most people had no idea of the history of the dispossession of the Aborigines. “Australia Day, which marks British colonisation, should really be Invasion Day.”

Rev Jones believes there is no chance of healing if people do not realise their complicity and she found many similarities in South Africa which were suffering from a broken, crushed and confused identity. In trying to become an agent of healing, one should avoid well-meaningness. Instead of telling people what one wanted to do for them, one should rather ask what they needed.

Loret Loumouamou, the Africa Coordinator from the Institute for Healing of Memories, who had worked all over Africa, explained that most people had no knowledge of their history, and even the language they spoke was usually the language of the foreign colonist.

Gina Flash pointed out there were big challenges in South Africa and the Jewish community struggled with being Jews and being South Africans with a tension between doing things the religious way or the way society did. There was too much guilt and too much history and the community needed a sense of responsibility towards others.

Ann Harris remarked that coming from England, she often crawled with embarrassment and shame at British colonial history. The small Jewish community often forgot that their sacred sources were quite clear about their duties towards the other.

Pippa wrote later that, “It had been a privilege to sit in everyone’s company and hear their stories, to learn a little of who they were and what they did in service. I was very moved. I am not Jewish but most of the important people in my life are; my guiding lights, my teachers, my friends and colleagues. So, I resonate on a heart and soul level.”

More on Rev Pippa Jones:
Rev Jones is on the board of trustees at the One Spirit Learning Alliance. She is a teacher and educator by profession (specialising in Adult Education), an Interfaith minister and Disaster Chaplain. She is a graduate of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York and was ordained in 2012. Pippa completed a Bachelors of Theology with a Major in Comparative Religious Studies at the Australian Catholic University (ACU). Additionally, together with three fellow One Spirit graduates, she is the co-founder and co-leader of Sydney Sacred Centre.

Pippa is currently in the Netherlands with a view to blending her love of and expertise in education with her passion for a global perspective and all things Interfaith.

Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies website: www.capesajbd.org, Instagram, and Facebook page.

• Published in the print edition of the March/April Pesach 2021 issue. Download the March/April 2021 issue PDF here.

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