A group of Year 9 students from Melbourne visited the Shepparton area to learn more about the connection between Jewish and Yorta Yorta people.
Eleven students from Jewish school, Mount Scopus Memorial College, took part in the Yorta Yorta Beyachad program, which was launched four years ago.
Program co-ordinator and teacher Ittay Flescher said the elective program ran in partnership with Jewish social justice movement Stand Up, and included eight months of various workshops and excursions.
‘‘(The program) concludes with a week on Yorta Yorta country in what is now known as Shepparton, Echuca and Barmah,’’ he said.
‘‘This year the students were honoured to visit the new Aboriginal street art project honouring civil rights activists William Cooper and Sir Doug Nicholls.
‘‘Other highlights of the trip included dialogue with elders at the Rumbalara Co-Op, Gallery Kaiela and a Mooroopna flats tour with Uncle Leon Saunders.’’
Mr Flescher said to learn more about the Jewish history of Shepparton, students visited Rein and Maurice Silverstein’s orchard in Orrvale, where they heard fascinating stories about the impact of fruit picking on the area.
‘‘They also shared a moving prayer for peace at the site of the former synagogue on the corner of Doyles Rd and Poplar Ave (in Shepparton),’’ he said.
‘‘The camp concluded with a powerful cultural exchange between the grandson of William Cooper, Uncle Alf ‘Boydie’ Turner, his daughter Leonie Drummond and the 11 students for over two hours. It was an amazing night that left all involved enriched and challenged in many ways about their Jewish and Australian identities.’’