A new New Zealand Muslim Foundation, the Hashem Slaimankhel Foundation, was launched by the Slaiamankhel family on Monday December 14.
Dr Hashem was a prominent member of the Afghani Community in New Zealand. He himself was a refugee who worked tirelessly in support of his community, and others, over decades. Unfortunately, while visiting his family in Afghanistan in 2018, he was killed in a terror attack .
The response in New Zealand was wide reaching; his death was recognised by the health authorities, local government, the police, interfaith groups, and a broad range of ethnic communities. This launch this week marked the establishment of a foundation in his name.
The foundation’s purposes are:
(a) to strengthen communities through interfaith activities;
(b) to provide scholarships for tertiary students from vulnerable backgrounds in New Zealand and Afghanistan;
(c) to support international development projects in Afghanistan for the benefit of widows and orphans;
(d) to work collaboratively with social service providers to facilitate community awareness programmes on family violence including elderly abuse and its impact on victims, women, children and family in the Afghani and Muslim community; and
(e) to support Afghani and Muslim youth leadership.
Hashem was a devoted Muslim, he was also a man of interfaith. He was associated with the Ponsonby Mosque and had engaged with the Jewish community (through the Auckland Hebrew Congregation). Hashem organised a group of Muslim leaders to visit the synagogue in 2016/7 and returned to attend the Torah Dedication.
Prominent Jewish community member Juliet Moses, who is the New Zealand Jewish Council’s spokesperson, volunteered her time and professional skills to help establish the Foundation. At the launch, she was made a patron of the foundation* and was asked to speak at the launch; she was the only woman to do so.
Moses talked about Hashem’s interfaith activities, his contact with the Jewish Community, the strength and importance of the developing relationship especially after the massacre at the Christchurch mosques on 15 March 2019.
She also referenced the Muslim support at the November Rabbi Sacks Commemoration – ending with a quote from the late Rabbi Sacks that captured the essence of Hashem and his work.
Her speech was warmly received by the large audience which attended the very special event. The Jewish community was represented at the event by Moses, Mark Jennings, Dame Lesley Max, Barbara and Roger Moses, Rachel Lerner and Gael Keren.
*The other patrons of the new Foundation include former Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres and Mohammad-Iqbal Slaimankhel.