Wellington Embassy Officially Open

September 28, 2011 by J-Wire Staff
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The new Israeli Embassy in New Zealand has been officially opened in a ceremony which included the affixing of a Mezzuzah.

Yesterday in the presence of Deputy Speaker of the House Mr Lindsay Tisch, members of MFAT and members of the Wellington Jewish community, the permanent office of the Embassy of Israel was officially opened in accordance with the Jewish tradition of the Mezuzah placing ceremony.

Rabbi David Alima and Ambassador Shemi Tzur

Rabbi David Alima from the Orthodox Synagogue in Wellington affixed the Mezuzah, parchment inscribed with specified Hebrew verses from the Torah, and contained in a decorative case, to the doorpost and blessed the Embassy. Mrs Donas and Colonel Bill Nathan added a New Zealand component to the ceremony by blessing the Embassy with a Maori prayer.

The Embassy is now able to provide full consular services and is open to the public Monday – Friday, from 09.30 until 12.30 for all passport and visa matters. Hopefully by the end of this year it will also able to issue the ‘Working Holiday Visa’. The scheme was signed between Israel and New Zealand earlier this year and entitles Israeli and citizens of both countries between the ages of 18-30 to work and live in the other’s respective countries for up to 12 months.

The Embassy’s Trade and Economic division, headed by David Cohen will promote trade and investment between New Zealand and Israel. The division will also act as a clearinghouse for information on trade, arranging promotional activities and working with visiting delegations to and from Israel.

The public affairs and cultural division, headed by  Patricia Deen is the main point of contact for all press and media enquiries. It is also responsible for the promotion of Israeli culture in New Zealand and is available for any and all information about Israel.

Lindsay Tisch, Shemi Tzur, Dr Paul Hutchison

In his opening address, Ambassador Shemi Tzur said: ” I am very proud and feel honored to welcome you all to our new and permanent Embassy, the new house of Israel in Wellington.

Earlier this year we welcomed you here when our Speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin and the Speaker of the House Dr the Rt Hon Lockwood Smith revealed the Embassy plaque. Mr Rivlin then also handed  us the Mezuzah which Rabbi Alima just affixed to our doorpost.

According to our tradition each house in Israel is being blessed with a Mezuzah and is a daily reminder ― and a public declaration ― of our Jewish identity and faith.

And so now after 8 years of absence it is official. The Embassy has officially reopened its doors and is here to stay. It is just symbolic that we are holding this happy ceremony on the eve of an important Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is of course the time of the Jewish New Year, a natural time for taking stock of the past 12 months and for sharing our plans and hopes for the coming 12 months.

My friends… Looking back, I can take a real pride in what the Embassy has accomplished in all fields. In the political we enhanced close relations with government officials and institutions. We did promote and enhance business ties, and cultural ties. We met large audiences all over the country, sharing with them what Israel is all about.

As for the coming 12 months our plans are very much enhancing on building close cooperation on science and technology which will contribute to a large scale of business between our two countries. We will promote tourism, following the signing of the working holiday scheme.  We will bring our culture close to you with dancing groups, a film festival and an exhibition.

We are very pleased that we have been able to donate some of $55.000 dollars to the earthquake stricken Linwood college in Christchurch. The aim is to help the school build up a digital learning centre.

And for the future. Our hopes and wishes for the coming Jewish new year will be that we will see an end to the conflict with our partners the Palestinians and that we will be signing together a peace agreement which enables both of us to shape a different future for the coming generation. We can do it, we should do it and hopefully after the last weekend at the UN general assembly we will see both sides coming back to the negotiation table and hopefully it will result with a peace agreement.

Dear friends during the beginning of our Jewish new year there are important events taking place in our host country too. I refer of course to the rugby world cup along with the upcoming election on 26th of November.

In case of the world cup we would be proud to be known as the Embassy of Israel Dagg.

And as far as the coming election is concerned we wish success to everyone.

I can’t end this welcome address before expressing my sincere appreciation to many people who helped making this event happen and I mention just a few of them because otherwise Ill stand here forever.. Glen Reynolds , Thank you Glen very much for taking the job of building this new embassy. Thank you for your patience and your professionalism you did a wonderful job and for being so patient with the Israelis because I know it is not an easy task.

Special thanks to my deputy Teddy and our chief of security Arnon who spent working days and nights ensuring that the embassy would be ready for Rosh Hashanah. Eyal we won’t forget your kindness and hospitality being our land lord at our  temporary offices on the Terrace.

And finally on the eve the Jewish new year as we look for a better tomorrow, whether in wellington or Jerusalem, my colleague and I extend to you Mr Deputy speaker and our friends, the warmest best wishes for a year of joy, prosperity, health and peace.

Shannah Tova Metuga may it be a happy sweet year.

To mark the sweet year we have for all of you apple and honey.


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