Chanukah at Parliament House

December 1, 2010 Agencies
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NSW Premier Kristina Keneally and Leader of the Opposition Barry O’Farrell hosted the lighting of the Menorah in Parliament House yesterday.

Rabbi Feldman lights the Menorah

Premier Kristina Keneally all pix: Henry Benjamin

More thant 200 NSW Members of Parliament and leaders of the NSW Jewish community gathered in State Parliament last night to celebrate the Jewish festival of Chanukah.

The event was initiated and hosted by the Yeshiva Centre-Chabad NSW Headquarters under the auspices of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

Premier Kristina Keneally, Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell, President of the Legislative Council Amanda Fazio MLC and Speaker of the House Richard Torbay addressed the gathering – the second time the festival had been marked in the nation’s oldest parliament.

Keneally and Fazio emphasized the range of faiths and cultures which were welcomed in Parliament House, while O’Farrell peppered his address with Hebrew expressions, to the mirth of the guests.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies President Yair Miller welcomed guest and Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, Dean and Spiritual Leader of The Yeshiva Centre-Chabad NSW HQ explained the history and meaning of the festival.

Barry O'Farrell

Miller said: “We thank our many friends from both sides of the House – particularly the Premier and the Opposition Leader – for their support of this significant event. The Chanukah celebration at Parliament House has become a wonderful symbol of the freedoms and democratic values that we came together to celebrate, and there is no better place to do that than in the seat of democracy in New South Wales.”

Rabbi Feldman said: “We are very proud to co-ordinate this annual Chanukah event at Parliament. Chanukah represents the victory of freedom over oppression, light over darkness and good over evil. Although it is a Jewish holiday, it highlights universal themes and ideals which are shared by the vast majority of our society, regardless of race or religion. The fact that Chanukah is celebrated at our Parliament by representatives of all sides of politics indicates the underlying common values that the people of this great State cherish.”


5 Responses to “Chanukah at Parliament House”
  1. Woody Crawford says:

    Baruch Hashem
    Dear Richard, I understand your comments are probably well intentioned however it is often easier to be critical than correct.
    It is halachically acceptable to light a menorah at any time with the exception of Shabbat and possibly that if the action of lighting the menorah you could endanger life, for example, in a coal mine etc. Unlike many of you, I grew up in a rural location and did not have my judaism handed to me on the proverbial ‘silver platter.’
    I am now 18 years of age and had my first opportunity to put on teffilin during Channukah Celebrations in Double Bay Park four years ago. This opportunity was thanks to Chabad and I have nothing but praise for them and the utmost confidence in their rabbis.
    Further I would like to remind everyone that it is our mission to prepare for Moshiach and prepare the World for this event. Believe it or not, some 800 years before the Spanish Inquisition, King Sisebut of the Visigoths who settled in Spain began placing curbs upon the Jews, separating them from the rest of the population. This policy was to become a permanent institution in Spain. Large numbers of Christians were converting to Judaism in recognition of its truth. Consequently Sisebut issued laws imposing the severest penalties for conversion.
    Richard, we have a duty to Hashem to demonstrate the spirit of our traditions to our non-jewish neighbours if possible and prepare for Moschiach.

    Happy Chanukkah
    Woody Crawford

  2. peter says:

    Once again a another triumph for Chabad in Australia, under the leadership of Rabbi Pinchus Feldman of Sydney.

  3. B”H
    Dear Richard,.
    Your words, which I am sure are well-intentioned, currently serve no purpose other than to ignorantly criticise the good work of Chabad and the Jewish Board of Deputies in coordinating this Function.
    In addition to being one of the Organisers of the event I am also a Rabbi, and it is blatantly obvious that we would not have put on a public function of this nature if it was not halachically acceptable.
    According to Halachah one can light a Menorah any time of the day or night and any day of the year for that matter, as long as it is not Shabbat.
    The only caveat is that the specific blessings for Chanukah cannot be said in their usual way with Hashem’s name, unless it is at the correct time.
    I will paraphrase the words that my esteemed father, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, said before he lit the Menorah yesterday in Parliament.
    “As today is the 23rd of the Jewish month of Kislev, which is a day before the official beginning of the Chanukah Holiday, I will be saying the blessings slightly different to how it is actually said on Chanukah (And he said “Hashem Elokeinu” instead of “Adonay Eloheinu”)
    1. Ba-ruch A-tah Hashem E-lo-ke-nu Me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner Cha-nu-kah.
    2. Ba-ruch A-tah Hashem E-lo-ke-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-a-sa ni-sim la-avo-te-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem bi-zman ha-zeh.
    3. Ba-ruch A-tah Hashem E-lo-ke-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh.”
    As far as your concern that it breaks with tradition to do a Chanukah event a day before Chanukah, even though as explained above it is halachically acceptable, have you ever been to a Model Seder? Or have your children ever attended a “Shabbat Party” on a Friday in their preschool?
    It is accepted tradition amongst all streams of Judaism to make events which demonstrate the spirit of a certain holiday or tradition at a time which may not exactly be correct, for the purposes of education and outreach.
    The best time to reach out to the Parliamentarians was yesterday, and I can guarantee you that Mattiyahu the Maccabee would have been very proud if the non-Jewish leaders of his time would have spoken with such respect and honur for Judaism as our Parliamentarians did yesterday.
    Indeed, the Chanukah message is about religious freedom and what better way to celebrate that then at the seat of political power in our State?
    Wishing you a joyous and meaningful Chanukah!

  4. Rita says:

    Although I am not Jewish, I am very aware of and disgusted by the shameful antisemitism and Jew-hatred that seems to raise its ugly head again, especially at our places of learning like our universities and in some of the media.

    So I am very glad to see our Parliament celebrate this lovely festival and congratulate both, the Premier and the Opposition leader. You both look quite attractive next to this splendid Menorah.

  5. Richard Olsen says:

    Isn’t the point to light it in the evening. It’s not the first day of Chanukah at 9.30am. I also take exception to those Chabad extremists changing the tradition in order to suit themselves. That’s why we have traditions. They don’t change. You light the first candle and shamash at first darkness which is the new day on the Jewish calendar. Doing it this way, simply slaps the face of the struggles of our forebearers who fought to keep our traditions and faiths against those of the Hellenisers.
    It just makes a mockery of all of the most beautiful Judaic customs and traditions to change and adjust them to suit non-Jews. The Matitiyahu would be disgusted in this absolute betrayal of Jewish custom.

    The Chabad sect and all involved in this should be ashamed of themselves.

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