On the last sitting day of Australia’s Parliament and Senate, Thursday, December 7th, the Jewish festival of Chanukah was celebrated at the now-yearly “Chanukah on the Hill” event.
In attendance were the Jewish politicians from the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as other politicians from all sides of politics who came to enjoy and learn from the joyous festival.
The morning tea provided kosher drinks and lechaim, traditional Chanukah foods including latkes and donuts and other delicacies – all prepared by Rebbetzin Chasia Feldman and the Canberra Kosher team.
The Hon Michael Danby MP, who MC’d the event, spoke about the importance of Chanukah and the significance of it being commemorated in the nation’s Parliament. He then gave a vote of thanks to the team at Chabad ACT who helped his office put the event together.
An invocation prayer authored by Rabbi Pinchus Feldman OAM was then read by Mr Harry Chaim Oppermann.
The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP (Minister for the Environment and Energy) and Jullian Leeser MP gave greetings on behalf of the Government.
His Excellency Mr Mark Sofer, the new Ambassador of Israel to Australia, then gave greetings stressing the significance of U.S President Trump’s announcement of earlier in the day, recognising Jerusalem as the eternal Capital of the Jewish people.
Rabbi Shmueli Feldman, Chairman of Chabad ACT, delivered a Dvar Torah and spoke of the messages to be learned from the Menorah; going above nature – represented by the 8 candles, increasing in acts of goodness and kindness – an additional candle each day, and lighting up the darkness of the world – through bringing light.
Mr Theo Menachemson – Treasurer of Chabad ACT, then lit the Shamash and Rabbi Shmueli Feldman recited an improvised blessing (due to it not being Chanukah yet).
The 8 candles were then kindled by the Jewish Politicians followed by other Members of Parliament and the Israeli Ambassador to Australia in the following order: The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, Julian Leeser MP, Dr Mike Freelander MP, Senator Stirling Griff, Ambassador Mark Sofer, Reb Michael Kiel, Senator James Paterson, Stewart Robert MP and The Hon Michael Danby MP.
Rebbetzin Chasia Feldman – Co-Director of Chabad ACT, concluded the ceremony blessing all those in attendance and spoke of the significance of the date, the 19th of Kislev, which is celebrated in Chabad as the Rosh Hashana for Chassidus and the festival of redemption.