Christian leaders stood with rabbinical leaders to celebrate “pre-Chanukah” at New South Wales Parliament this week. The multi-faith event was coordinated by NSW State Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the state’s Acting Minister for Multiculturalism, Dr Geoff Lee.

By Kylie Beech
Eternity News
November 15, 2019

Berejiklian welcomed and thanked non-Jewish faith leaders who were in attendance for “respecting the Jewish community, for celebrating their achievements, but also standing with each other, as we go through difficult times, but also as we celebrate each others’ happy occasions.”

“It is wonderful to celebrate each other’s important occasions,” the Premier told the multi-faith group.

“It is wonderful to come together – both from the Jewish and non-Jewish faith[s] – to celebrate the significance of Chanukah and the resilience that the Jewish men and women demonstrated more than 2000 years ago, in withstanding oppression and persecution during the first festival of Chanukah.”

The word Chanukah means “dedication” in Hebrew and begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar.

Known as the Festival of Lights, the eight-day Jewish celebration commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

The Premier noted that the Jewish people’s “resilience, dedication and faith” – seen in those second century events – has “continued through very difficult times and good times, right up until modern NSW here today”.

She also thanked the Jewish community in NSW for their contribution to the strength of the state.

Berejiklian said Chanukah’s celebration of light over darkness served as reminder today that “we must ever be vigilant” against allowing “oppression or racism to creep in”.

The celebration began with the tradition of the lighting of nine candles – which are arranged in a candelabrum called a menorah – as well as the following blessings:

Praised are You, Our God, Ruler of the universe,
Who made us holy through Your commandments
and commanded us to kindle the Hanukah lights.

Praised are You, Our God, Ruler of the universe,
Who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors
in those ancient days at this season.

Praised are You, Our God, Ruler of the universe,
Who has given us life and sustained us
and enabled us to reach this season.

“Chanukah is a historical festival, recalling the Jewish people’s resistance and eventual triumph over cultural oppression by the Syrian Greeks,” explained Lynda Ben-Menashe, Manager of Community Relations and Policy at the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

“It is incredibly meaningful to our community to have Christian leaders stand with us to hear our government pledge to support us in maintaining our own religious freedom and our fight to similarly preserve the rights of other groups.”

Father Shenouda Mansour, a Bishop in the Coptic Orthodox Church and General Secretary of the NSW Ecumenical Council, told Eternity why attending the multi-faith event was so important.

“Attending the pre-Chanukah event is building good relations with the Jewish community,” he said. “The story of the Chanukah resonates for the Christians as the miracle of the battle that lasted for eight days.

“It’s a story of light over darkness. A story that reminds us Jesus is the light of the world …

“For with Christ, the light shines and lightens our perspective of life and graces us with divine light and knowledge, the grace that we need every moment of our lives.”