The Shabbat after

November 5, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Members of Sydney’s Jewish community gathered at The Central Synagogue to hear addresses from the American Consul-General Sharon Hudson-Dean, Dr Kerryn Phelps and Rabbi Levi Wolff at the beginning of the Shabbat following the massacre of 11 members of the congregation at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Rabbi Levi Wolff, Sharon Hudson-Dean and Dr Kerryn Phelps  Photo: Nadine Saacks

Rabbi Wolff spoke of his personal connection to Pittsburgh and that his great-grandparents had settled there in 1943 at the behest of Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Nevertheless, he placed himself as one of the world-Jewish community who “stand shoulder to shoulders with our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh.”

He said: “When the evil terrorist, burst into the Tree of Life Congregation screaming “all Jews must die” he didn’t specify orthodox or reform, conservative or liberal, or any level of observance, affiliation or political leaning for that matter. All, means all. Yes. He was looking for me and for you too.”

He spoke about his experiences of walking with his wife Chanie in the neighbourhood being comforted by non-Jewish people.

“The world must see this as a unique opportunity to wake up: To start thinking differently, speaking differently, acting differently. A loud call has to ring out that we — all people, not just Jews — will not tolerate such atrocities. We cannot tolerate a person turning a gun in the name of killing Jews or any other ethnic group,” he added.

He commented: “As a Jewish people we must gather our strength and stand tall and strong, with conviction and knowledge that whenever anti-Semitism rears its ugly head, over the thousands of years of our history, be it France 1147, Morocco 1465, Spain 1492, Ukraine 1648, Hebron 1929, Germany 1939. As Jewish people, we choose life over death.  We choose love over hatred and we choose light over darkness.”

American consul-general Sharon Hudson-Dean said: “I have no words to describe my anger. I struggle to explain what happened at the Tree of Life.  She said that George Washington wrote to the Jewish community of the United States that the government “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no sanction”.  In synagogues in the United States what they do every Shabbat – opening their doors to those seeking spiritual sanctuary.

She said that Americans of all faiths were asked to fill synagogues across the nation to show that “bigotry is shown no sanction.”

She said that she was not able to join the members of her local synagogue in the United States but showed her appreciation to join the gathering at Sydney’s Central,

She added: “The American people and the American government condemn anti-Semitism ”

Dr Kerryn Phelps expressed the solidarity of the gathering at the Central with the Pittsburgh community and with Jewish communities worldwide.

She said: “What happened in Pittsburgh has sent shockwaves around the world.  We cannot ignore the reality of antisemitism in Australia. We must maintain vigilance and take the necessary precautions.”

Dr Kerryn Phelps praised the work done by the CSG.

She said that the Australian community is one of the most successful multicultural communities in the world adding “Australians must work to unite rather than divide”.

Following the Pittsburgh massacre, Dr Phelps commented: “In the face of horrendous attacks our Jewish spirit will endure.”

She pointed out that many of the doctors and nurses who attended the victims and the perpetrator were Jewish.

She said: “Even amid the horror in Pittsburgh, there was hope.

At least three of the doctors and nurses who cared for the man who perpetrated his hate crimes in Pittsburgh were Jewish, according to local hospital president Jeffrey K. Cohen.

Cohen, who is a member of the Tree of Life congregation where the massacre happened, said in a television interview: “We’re here to take care of sick people.

‘We’re not here to judge you. We’re not here to ask ‘Do you have insurance?’ or ‘Do you not have insurance?’ We’re here to take care of people that need our help.’

Cohen’s simple and unapologetic description of how this inherently evil man came to be treated fairly and impartially by the very people he had supposedly hated has travelled quickly around the world.”

She said: “Our hearts go out to the families of those murdered in cold blood.”




2 Responses to “The Shabbat after”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    Jews (and Muslims) expelled from Spain, who initially went to North Africa, were later taken by the Ottomans in Istanbul. Some Jewish descendants still live in present day Turkey.

    • Joe Weinstein says:


      Indeed there are Good People and there are Bad (Evil !) people everywhere;

      At different times; People Wear different “Garments”* with the then current FASHION; they get influenced by “Trends” & Leaders; which also changes with the TIME.

      [*The Alter Rebbe (in Tania) describes the x3 GARMENTS of the Soul; Thought, Speech & Action. These are TOTALLY controlled by each person just like changing their Garments, these three can also be Good & Clean. At one time (400 Years!) there was Peace between Jews & Islam; the Era (Time) was know as the “Golden Age”; and yet at other times and places……]

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