The highest office-bearer in the land, Her Excellency Ms. Quentin Bryce AC, Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, paid a visit to The Yeshiva Centre – Chabad NSW Headquarters on Thursday the 2nd of July – 10th of Tammuz.
Ms. Bryce performed the vice-regal tasks of unveiling a plaque and mixing with the local community with gracious aplomb. She was also given a tour of the Centre’s “Our Big Kitchen” where Directors Rabbi Dovid and Laya Slavin showed her the secrets of Challah-making.
Many of the 500 guests – which included Jewish Communal leaders as well as a vast array of Federal, State and Local Government representatives – were personally touched by the Governor-General’s words.
Complimenting the Yeshiva Centre for its contribution to society, the Governor General singled out “Our Big Kitchen” for particular praise. She thanked the Centre for inviting her to see this “rich and valuable contribution,” revealing her observations that “the enthusiasm of the young people shines through.”
The occasion was abundant with spirituality; Yeshiva’s Dean and Spiritual Leader Rabbi Pinchus Feldman recited both the blessing for the Head of State and the traditional Priestly Blessing. Rabbi Feldman also gave the Governor General a copy of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s book “Towards a Meaningful Life.”
The deputy mayor of Waverley, Dominic Wy Kanak, a native Australian, invoked the Aboriginal owners in his brief words of “welcome to country.” The audience also heard a passionate speech from Yeshiva College student Raizel Feldman on the uniqueness of her school.
Yeshiva College principal Rebbetzin Pnina Feldman presented to the Governor-General an elaborate silver Menorah handcrafted in Israel, describing it as “a Jewish symbol of warmth and light.”
Rebbetzin Feldman also explained the history and functions of the Menorah, pointing out that the original Menorah had been made from one piece of solid gold symbolising the unity of mankind.
In response, a visibly moved Governor-General said “I look forward to showing the Menorah to the thousands of visitors that come to Government House in Canberra and telling them of my unforgettable visit to the Yeshiva Centre.”
The ceremony concluded with a spirited rendition of Am Yisrael Chai by the Yeshiva College choir, led by Chazan Yehoshua Niasoff.
The Governor-General’s visit capped a memorable couple of years during which the Centre and Kitchen have hosted the Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yonah Metzger, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Treasurer Wayne Swan and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull.