New Zealand to honor Jewish community


The government of New Zealand will honor the contributions of the country’s Jewish community.

Chris Carter, the minister for ethnic affairs, is inviting about 500 guests to mark Rosh Hashanah Sept. 9 at the Parliament.

David Zwartz, the retired honorary Israeli consul in Wellington, said the evening will include the blowing of the shofar, and the traditional eating of apples and honey.

The government has held similar celebrations for the Chinese New Year, Indian New Year and Maori New Year, he said.

Relations between Prime Minister Helen Clark’s Labor Party and the small Jewish community of about 7,000 were marred by Clark’s decision to suspend high-level diplomatic relations with Jerusalem in 2004 after two Israelis, suspected of being Mossad agents, were caught and jailed for trying to illegally obtain Kiwi passports.

Israel apologized the following year and diplomatic relations resumed.

Opposition leader John Key, who has been leading in the polls for the past 18 months, could become the nation’s third Jewish prime minister by Nov. 15.

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