The holiday of Chanukah commenced in Australia with the National Menorah lighting in Canberra’s Parliament in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
An over-capacity crowd of 160 VIPs gathered to enjoy Canberra’s annual major Chanukah event, organized by Chabad ACT.
Attendees who enjoyed the function included the majority of ACT MLA’s from all sides of politics and Ambassadors and Diplomats from Israel, Russia, Poland, Belgium, Argentina, Hungary and Romania. Also joining the Jewish community at the celebration were leaders from most of Canberra’s faith and large community groups.
Rabbi Shmueli Feldman, Chairman of Chabad ACT, who emceed the popular function being held for the fourth consecutive year, acknowledged all the VIPs and major sponsors and called up Rabbi Eli Feldman, Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of NSW/ACT, to deliver the invocation.
Rabbi Shmueli then read a letter written in 1980 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe to attendees of public Menorah lightings explaining the significance of the event and the lessons to be learnt from the Menorah.
Ms Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, read the letter sent by Federal Opposition Leader, the Hon Bill Shorten MP and remarked that the Chanukah event is one of the leading gatherings of faith and Multicultural communities on Canberra’s calendar.
Mr Alistair Coe MLA, Leader of the Opposition, spoke of the importance of faith and religion, read the letter sent by the Prime Minister the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP and thanked the Feldmans and Chabad ACT for all the good they bring to Canberra.
H.E Mr Mark Sofer, new Ambassador of Israel to Australia gave greetings from the place of the Chanukah miracle, Jerusalem, and delighted the audience with relevant insights into the festival.
Members of the Chabad ACT Board led by Theo Menachemson lit the shamash and Mr Michael Kiel from Israel lit the first candle following Rabbi Feldman’s blessings.
Rebbetzin Chasia Feldman delivered concluding blessings to all present, encouraging everyone to also utilize these auspicious days of Chanukah, in giving gratitude for the blessings in their lives and to beseech G-d for the future.
Cocktails and gourmet finger food with latkes and donuts, Jewish traditional Chanukah delicacies, and L’chaims continued to be served with Jewish music in the background. All present thanked the hosts for a truly enjoyable and uplifting experience.
Chanukah menorah kits with candles, chocolate Chanukah gelt coins, dreidels and guides for the festival were gifted to the guests upon exiting.