A Touch of Sweetness and Light

November 19, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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It could have been the lure of sweet, pillowy balls of sufganiyot – traditional jam donuts– that brought a large gathering to NSW State Parliament House this week where politicians, diplomats, community and religious leaders from many faiths mingled to mark the upcoming  Festival of Lights, Channukah.

NSW Premier Mike Baird Photo: Henry Benjamin

NSW Premier Mike Baird Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Bruce Notley-Smith, MP acted as Master of Ceremonies and welcomed the assembled throng before introducing Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton whose invocation hoped for an end of hatred and mistrust and blessings for all the peoples of Australia.

The function was hosted by NSW Minister for Multiculturalism John Ajaka  who said that “today we are celebrating a miracle of faith that promotes the message of goodness and light”,  things that were particularly relevant today.

Quoting a Jewish saying, “a little bit of light expels a lot of darkness”, Mike Baird, Premier, said those powerful words inspired the world with resilience and strength.  It was a reminder that when things seem dark and hopeless, our spirits can bring light.

“Today I am very proud to be standing here as a strong friend of the Jewish community”.  Channukah is a festival that celebrates light over oppression, which points to hope when there is darkness.”

This is a great symbol for the whole world at a difficult time with the loss of innocent lives.” said Baird.

He thanked the Jewish community for its deep friendship and for the role it plays in NSW.

In a short history lesson, Luke Foley, Leader of the NSW Opposition, said it was most appropriate to welcome members of the Jewish community to Parliament House. The first policeman in NSW, John Harris, was a Jew and a free convict and the first Jewish Parliamentarian was Sir Saul Samuel who became a distinguished Treasurer.

He spoke of Sir Julian Salomons, a parliamentarian who was attacked for being Jewish. In his maiden speech Salomons said he would “be a poltroon and a coward if I were not proud of belonging to a race which has given Isiah, the Psalms of David and the Bible upon which the happiness of the world depends”.

Foley said that Jews have played an important role in the legislature of the State for over two hundred years and extended best wishes to Jewish citizens for the coming days of the festival.

Before the candles were lit, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman explained that he had made minor changes to the blessings to allow for the event being held ahead of the Festival of Lights. A different rabbi lit each of the eight candles.

The function was staged well ahead of Chanukah as it preceded the last sitting day of the NSW Parliament for 2015.

All photos: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire


3 Responses to “A Touch of Sweetness and Light”
  1. Debbie Scholem says:

    So wonderful to see the inspiration of this festival (albeit a bit early) enjoyed by our politicians, interfaith friends and all. Do you think it might be possible to have a few women on stage ? It looks like all Jews are men with beards.

  2. Miriam Weinstein says:

    Before the candles were lit, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman explained that he had made minor changes to the blessings to allow for the event being held ahead of the Festival of Lights.

    Please explain…

    Did he say Hamotzi or Pri Adama instead of Lehadlik Ner Chanuka?

    Or what??

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