The seventh flame of the Chanukah Menorah was kindled at an event in the Victorian State Parliament, in Melbourne, Australia.
The Chanukah ceremony, an annual event initiated by Chabad of Melbourne CBD, under the direction of the Shliach of the Chabad House Rabbi Chaim Herzog, was co-hosted for the first time by Rabbi Jacks, representing the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation of Toorak. In attendance were many distinguished guests such as Parliamentary dignitaries, including the newly appointed Premier of Victoria, Ted Bailleu, Judges and Rabbis.
Premier Ted Bailleu addressed the crowd regarding the significance of delivering his first speech at a community function, since his lection as Premier, being during Chanukah for three special reasons. The Premier first acknowledged that Chanukah marked a personal victory for himself, as election results revealing his appointment to Premier were released on Chanukah. He later expounded on this comparison, by stating that Chanukah celebrates not just an ordinary victory, but the defeat of the masses by minority groups, even in the face of tremendous adversity. The Premier thus paralleled his emerging from his position as head of a minority party to head of the Governing party, to the miraculous win of the Maccabees over the multitudes of Greek soldiers. He also emphasized that Chanukah is celebrated as a festival of victory for the Jewish nation, marking an end to religious oppression. The Premier also commented on how the 160 year old Parliament House, a building where resolutions were made to preserve religious freedom, was a suitable location for his Chanukah speech. Lastly, the Premier directed his speech to the many children in attendance, explaining how Chanukah is a festival particularly pertinent to the youth. The Premier joked that nowadays this is especially the case, with children benefiting from ‘Chanukah Gelt’ and playing with ‘Dreidels’.
The large audience also heard words of inspiration regarding the Holiday of Chanukah from Rabbi Jacks. Rabbi Jacks delved into the importance of the role of the Shamash, which seeks to nurture others, yet fails to receive credit. Rabbi Jacks effectively used his speech as a vehicle to show appreciation to the new State Government for the efforts it puts into the community, much of which goes unrecognised.
Rabbi Chaim Herzog also congratulated and blessed the new Government, and thanked all those in the audience for attending. He later lit the Menorah with the honorary Premier, Ted Beilleu, and the Member of Parliament for Caulfield, David Southwick. The crowd was also entertained by Cantor Dovid Rubinfield who sang a reindition of ‘Shehechyionu,’ celebrating the new beginnings of the Victorian Parliament, and other Chanukah songs, much to the delight of all in attendance.