Central turns Liberal

March 12, 2012 by Henry Benjamin
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Sydney’s The Central Synagogue hosted a very special guest for Friday night’s Shabbat service….Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott.

Rabbi David Freedman, Shimon Farkas, Rabbi Yehuda Niassof, Josh Frydenberg, Margaret Abbott, Dr Rob Rosen, Amie Frydenberg, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, Stanley Roth, Lucy Turnbull, Hillel Fried, Frank Lowy, Rabbi Levi Wolff and Danny Taibel pic: Henry Benjamin

Joining Mr Abbott in the Bondi shule were local member Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal member for Kooyong Josh Frydenberg. All three politicians were accompanied by their wives Margaret Abbott, Lucy Turnbull and Amie Frydenberg.

For Tony Abbott it was his first visit to the Central and his first ever Shabbat service. In his sermon, Rabbi Levi Wolff referred to Malcolm Turnbull as Moishe Turnbull and said he visited the synagogue more often than “most of his congregants”.

Frank Lowy (rt} greets Tony Abbott as Shimon Farkas watches pic: Henry Benjamin

Hillel Fried, Danny Taibel, Dr Rob Rosen, Tony Abbott, Stanley Roth and Rabbi Levi Wolff

All three politicians were treated to the inspiring cantorial music of Chazan Shimon Farkas accompanied by the Central choir and Mrs Abbott could be seen in the gallery enjoying the ancient melodies.

Following the service, Tony Abbott addressed a packed Studio Central Shabbat dinner attended by more than 200 young members of the community.

Speaking on the contribution of the Jewish community to Australia, Mr Abbott said that the community had produced Sir Isaac Isaacs who served Australia as Chief Justice and later as Governor-General, Sir John Monash who was head of the Australian Defence Force during World War I and Sir Zelman Cowen who passed away last year and had been  Australia’s second Jewish Governor-General.

He said no country in the world outside of Israel had produced leadership to match that adding that every Australian was an Israeli in Israel’s time of need.

Mr Abbott was particularly impressed with the Jewish community’s philanthropic contribution to Australian life singling out Westfield chief Frank Lowy, who sponsored the dinner, for special mention. He told the audience about the Lowy family’s $10 million contribution to the Lowy Cancer Research Centre and to the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.

When he was Health Minister, Tony Abbott opened the Melanoma Centre in Sydney which had been funded by philanthropist Greg Poche. He told the dinner guests that at that time he pleaded to “the Packers, the Pratts and the Lowys to give, give give”. He said that Mr Lowy had and was in his view Australia’s greatest philanthropist.

Inspired by his first Shabbat service and dinner, Tony Abbott told J-Wire: “Can I congratulate those who run this synagogue that you have got such extraordinarily dynamic and diverse group of young people who take faith seriously. It really is tremendous to see so many people who are so full of life and yet are so full of faith.”

Malcolm Turnbull said that Israel was in the front line and that the country had the support of Western democracies. Aware that there were many young professionals present he said that these were “challenging times” and said he would make himself available for anyone seeking advice.


One Response to “Central turns Liberal”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    Mr Abbott was remiss in not recalling how the Jewish Community came to the aid of Mary MacKillop when going through hard and harsh times, or the support for young Daughter of Charity, Fabian Elliott to finance the renowned St Vincents Private Hospital in Melbourne.
    Their philanthropic contribtions knows no bounds.

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