Rabbi participates in 2019 ANZAC Day Bondi Dawn Service

April 27, 2019 by Geoff Sirmai
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Maroubra Synagogue’s Sydney-born Rabbi Yossi Friedman holds the rank of Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Australian Air Force and made history participating in the annual North Bondi RSL Sub-Branch’s Bondi Beach Dawn Service on Anzac Day.

Rabbi Yossi Friedman lays a wreath

In what is believed to be a first official Jewish participation in an Eastern Suburbs Anzac Commemoration, Rabbi Friedman gave the benediction, delivering a message of unity and singing a prayer of peace.

Born and raised in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, educated at Sydney Boys’ High and the University of NSW, Rabbi Friedman completed his studies at rabbinical colleges in both Australia and Israel before his ordination in 2008.

He served at Central Synagogue Bondi and Cremorne Synagogue before accepting the positions of Chief Minister at Kingsford Maroubra Hebrew Congregation and College Rabbi to Mount Sinai College. He is married with three children.

Rabbi Yossi became a Chaplain to the Royal Australian Air Force in 2013.

Rabbi Yossi said that participating in the Anzac Dawn Service meant a great deal to him.

“A significant number of Jewish servicemen fought in WWI and in all wars since. With the additional knowledge that I follow a long line of Jewish Chaplains (there was a Jewish Chaplain at Gallipoli), I feel deeply humbled and honoured to have actively participated in such a significant service, on Australia’s most auspicious day of remembrance.”

Flight Lieutenant Rabbi Yossi Friedman told the service: “My Jewish tradition informs me that to achieve peace we must learn to value peace, and actively pursue it. Peace will come about when we learn to accept one another despite our backgrounds, beliefs and differences. Peace will descend upon us when we learn how to live together in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding.

You see, what unites us, is that we are all Australian –one fabric with many threads – fighting for the same values, ideals and freedoms.

I stand before you on the shoulders of many Jewish chaplains who have served our country since the inception of our ADF. On the very shores of Gallipoli, there was a Jewish Chaplain by the name of David Isaac Friedman, known affectionately as ‘the ANZAC Rabbi’ and he provided ministry, compassion and dedicated service to all regardless of faith. In fact, he served alongside another Jew who would go on to become one of the War’s outstanding commanders – General Sir John Monash.

The total number of Jews who served in the Australian and New Zealand Forces in WW1 is estimated at close to 1800, which, at that time, was around 10% of the Jewish population!

Since Federation, some 9,000 Jewish men and women have served and continue to serve in the ADF. 341 have given their lives, including in 2009, private Greg Sher from the 1stCommando Regiment, killed on Op’s in Afghanistan and whose family attends this Dawn service each year.

I share with you these numbers to demonstrate the highly valued and multi-cultural threads that are woven through the fabric of the 3 branches of our ADF.

Let us now pray for unity and peace.”

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