Labor candidates for Higgins and Kooyong, Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah and Dr Peter Lynch, visited the Ark Centre in Hawthorn East last week.
The centre’s Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann gave the candidates a tour of the facilities, bringing out a Sefer Torah and even treating them to fresh schnitzels.
“It was lovely hosting Drs Michelle and Peter at the Ark Centre. We discussed local Jewish community issues and the history of our rich culture,” Rabbi Kaltmann said.
Lynch said he was “very impressed” with the centre.
“I was very pleased to visit the Ark Centre last Thursday in conjunction with the Labor candidate for Higgins Michelle Ananda-Rajah, and very pleased to meet Rabbi Gabi, about whom I’d heard a lot,” he said.
“I was also very pleased to have a discussion with the rabbi and several others about community relations and reinforce our commitment to acknowledging the great contribution of the Jewish community to Australian society, and Victoria and Melbourne in particular.”
The candidates discussed their commitment towards eliminating antisemitism. Lynch also expressed the continued commitment by Labor to the State of Israel, saying he is “happy to go forward with those sentiments of respect for the Jewish community, a strong opposition to any hint of antisemitism anywhere, anytime, and a moderate and sensitive approach to the issues of the Middle East, Israel and Palestine”.
Speaking on her own experience, Ananda-Rajah shared, “From my own experience as a person of colour, I came to Australia as a child. My parents were of Sri Lankan ancestry. But I was born in England … I came here and I’ve dealt with this stuff my whole life, even now as a senior clinician.”
She also said it was “a privilege and an honour” to tour the centre with Rabbi Kaltmann.
“I have a close relationship with the Jewish community, having worked shoulder to shoulder with Jewish colleagues at the Alfred and having cared for hundreds, if not thousands, of Holocaust survivors over the past 13 years,” she said.
“I will always defend the Jewish community against antisemitic acts and rhetoric. It has no place in modern Australia and I will not hesitate to call it out where I see it.
“The greatest strength of our nation is its multicultural composition, and the Jewish community in Australia is exemplary of that fact.”