Chanukah celebrations

December 3, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Members of the Jewish and Hindu communities recently came together to celebrate Chanukah and Deepavali, a celebration of light after lockdown.

A partnership between the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Hindu Council of Australia, the night was also an occasion to mark our communities’ history of collaboration and goodwill.

With over 70 people in the room – COVID capacity – including many Jews of Indian descent, guests were treated to an exhibition of watercolours of Indian synagogues, Indian dancing and Jewish music.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies President Lesli Berger remarked “The relationship between us is a very special one. It is believed that the Jewish presence in India dates back to the time of King Solomon, almost a thousand years BCE. And India is one of perhaps only two countries in the world where Jews have lived in harmony through the ages, without any official or even unofficial antisemitism.”

This latest collaboration comes amidst work by both communities on the bill to ban the Nazi swastika in NSW. The JBD and Hindu Council have lodged a joint submission in support of the bill, alongside some minor suggestions for change.

The evening was capped off by the lighting of the Chanukiah and Deepavali lamps.

Sydney’s North Shore community united on the fourth night of Chanukah with over 2200 people celebrating at “Chanukah on the Green” in true community spirit with young and old alike.

A real family event, there was something for everyone. Amusement rides and stalls, giant slide and a mini-ferris wheel, a petting zoo and game booths, kids crafts and dreidel decorating, as well as the chance to meet and greet with the Rural Fire Services. The event also featured two exceptional stunt shows by the Fearless Stunt Team, which included fire blowing, breakdancing, breathtaking balancing acts and so much more.

Jonathan O’Dea, Rabbi Nochum Schapira and Rabbi Paul Lewin

Musical performances by the Menachem Feldman Band engaged and uplifted the crowd and brought the spirit and joy of Chanukah and to all. In addition, Masada College band performed, with local students displaying their talents and skills. Attendees also enjoyed an array of delicious food, including a well-stocked barbeque and Chanukah delicacies, such as hot latkes and fresh doughnuts. Community stalls included Ganeinu Long Day Care and Preschool, Masada College, BJE, COA, Maccabi, Rivka’s Mobile Library and Hatzalah.

One of the highlights of the event was the giant Menorah lighting by Shliach Rabbi Nochum Schapiro, Rabbi Paul Lewin and The Jonathan O’Dea MP, State Member for Davidson and Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly. A number of local Councillors joined the Rabbis on stage prior to the lighting.

This annual event is organised by Chabad North Shore who have been disseminating the message of Chanukah across the North Shore and beyond for 32 years. The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn of blessed memory encouraged the public display of Menorahs across the world with the aim to publicize one of the key lessons of Chanukah, to shine light as a means to dispel darkness, an extremely relevant and timely message for all.

Special thanks to major sponsor Woolworths Supermarkets and community partners who promoted the event: Masada College, North Shore Synagogue, Kehillat Masada, Ohr Hatzafon and BJE.  An extra special thank-you to Shluchim Rabbi Chanoch Sufrin, Rabbi Mendy and Chanie Schapiro, and all our hard-working and dedicated volunteers who worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this event.

Chabad North Shore has coordinated Chanukah displays at Westfield Chatswood, Westfield Hornsby, Westfield Warringah Mall and St Ives Shopping Village.

Hundreds of people attended an event to celebrate the first night of Chanukah at Hollis Park in Newtown in Sydney’s inner west.

The event was co-hosted by Newtown Synagogue and Young Adult Chabad and featured a range of children’s entertainment including face painting, dreidel balloons, tug of war and a magic show by “Mr Tim”.

Revellers enjoyed the traditional Chanukah delights such as jam doughnuts, potato Latkes and chocolate coins and were provided with take-home Chanukah kits consisting of tin Menorahs, candles and colourful dreidels.

The Grand Menorah was kindled by Rabbi Eli Feldman. Rebbetzin Elka Feldman shared inspirational insights into the relevance of Chanukah’s message to our lives today. A highlight of the event was when Lachlan Menzies, Immediate Past President of Newtown Synagogue, played Maoz Tzur on the bagpipes!

North Queensland Jewish Community ignited a public Chanukah menorah erected at the Cairns Esplanade, in an event with crafts for the children and food for all.

“The menorah serves as a symbol of North Queensland’s dedication to preserve and encourage the right and liberty of all its citizens to worship G‑d freely, openly, and with pride. This is true especially in North Queensland, Australia was founded upon and vigorously protects the right of every person to practice his or her religion free from restraint and persecution,” said Rabbi Ari Rubin. “We have chosen to create our Menorah out of glow in the dark materials to commemorate the light overpowering darkness.

“I want my kids to grow up with pride in their Jewish heritage and a feeling of equality and self-confidence as Australians,” said Israel Hajbi of Machans Beach, who is looking forward to attending the public menorah lighting. “Chabad’s Chanukah menorahs are arguably one of the most important developments ever to help my child’s education. I wish they had this where I grew up.”

The Menorah lighting is part of the worldwide Chanuka campaign, an initiative launched by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 1973. The campaign highlights and encourages the central theme of the holiday — publicizing the story of the Hanukkah miracle.

“The message of Chanukah is the message of light,” added Rabbi Rubin. “The nature of light is that it is always victorious over darkness. A small amount of light dispels a lot of darkness. Another act of goodness and kindness, another act of light, can make all the difference.”

Today, the unprecedented public display of Chanukah has become a staple of Jewish cultural and religious life, forever altering the Australian practice and awareness of the festival. North Queensland’s menorah is one of more than 15,000 large public menorahs sponsored by Chabad in more than 100 countries around the world, including in front of landmarks such as the White House, the Eiffel Tower, and the Kremlin helping children and adults of all walks of life discover and enjoy the holiday message

Throughout the State of QLD, Chabad will be presenting several Chanukah events and celebrations.

Melbourne’s Brighton Shule put on a spectacular family-friendly Chanukah event Sunday evening 28th November at Landcox Park in Brighton East with over 800 people in attendance.

Children enjoyed a variety of craft activities, there was live music by Yisroel Levin, multiple raffles and a popular Aussie sausage sizzle complimented by latkes and doughnuts.

Photo: Sierra Danon

Rabbi Alex Tsykin and Rebbetzin Ahuva Tsykin, together with a large number of BHC Volunteers (all wearing bright yellow high-vis vests) ensured that great fun was had by all.  President David Wittenberg proudly lit the tall Chanukiah and danced with all the children present – everyone spinning like dreidels!

Rabbi Alex commented “It was fantastic to see so many families and friends enjoying the festival of Chanukah in one of Bayside’s beautiful parks, just down the road from our shule. May the light of the Chanukiah continue to light up the suburbs, and bring joy and inspiration to the people of Melbourne.”

President David commented “Brighton Shule has been holding public Chanukah celebrations in Brighton & Bentleigh for a number of years, but this was the biggest ever. The turn-out was amazing. We really look forward to welcoming everyone to our next event.”

Meaningful, inviting and inclusive, Brighton Shule is a community shule for the modern Jewish family, located on the corner of Marriage Road and Nepean Highway, Brighton East.

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