NSW Opposition Leader visits Succah

October 4, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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NSW Labor leader, John Robertson has visited the succah on the lawns of the Prince of Wales hospital — as Sydney’s Jewish community marks Succot.

Walt Secord, John Robertson and Rabbi Mendel Kastel

This year, Sydney’s Jewish House – as part of its chaplaincy program – worked with Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick together with the Sydney Children’s Hospital and Royal Hospital for Women to provide extra support for Jewish patients and staff during the recent festivals.

This is believed to be the first time in Australia that a succah was constructed on the grounds of a public hospital campus in NSW.

Mr Robertson was welcomed by Sydney Jewish House chief executive officer, Rabbi Mendel Kastel  who organised the Succah through his chaplaincy work.

The succah replicates fragile dwellings in which the Israelites stayed in during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah.

On each day of the holiday, members of the household recite a blessing over the lulav and etrog.

Ron Hoenig and Rabbi Mendel Kastel

Newly elected MP for Heffron, Mr Ron Hoenig, who is Jewish, recited the blessing over the lulav and the etrog. Mr Hoenig invited Mr Robertson and Mr Secord to accompany him on the day.

John Robertson talked about the Australia’s religious and cultural diversity and how he was delighted to see the Jewish community celebrate their faith in such a public manner.

Labor Upper House MP, Walt Secord, who is deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel, who worked at the Australian Jewish News said he knew Rabbi Kastel from almost 25 years. They had met when Rabbi Kastel was a rabbinical student doing chaplaincy work.

Coogee MP, Bruce Notley-Smith, Hospital CEO Dr Patrick Bolton, hospital staff and other representatives of the chaplaincy service also attended.

On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, the care organisation provided  dinner,  apples and honey to the hospitals’ Jewish patients and candle-lighting facilities in the hospital chapel with  battery operated candles for people to light.

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