AS senior pollies hit the city to celebrate Chanukah at Chabad of Melbourne’s menorah lighting this week, bright lights and special guests flocked to Fed Square for ARK Centre’s Pillars of Light event.
On Tuesday night, Deputy Premier James Merlino and State Opposition leader Matthew Guy joined Rabbi Chaim Herzog and other VIPs at the Sheraton Hotel to celebrate the third night of the festival.
MC for the event, former Australian chief scientist Alan Finkel, kicked off the celebrations, inviting Merlino to the stage where he spoke of the triumph of faith over adversity.
“It’s a reminder of the oppression that so many across our world, Jews in particular, have faced and defeated for generations,” he said, adding, “It’s these candles of the menorah that remind us of what has been endured and all that has been won.”
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Posted by The Australian Jewish News on Sunday, November 28, 2021
He also thanked the community for its efforts during the pandemic, recognising the sacrifices made during lockdowns.
Addressing the guests, Guy said, “Chanukah is not just a Jewish community event, but a Victorian event. We might not have Sydney Harbour or the weather of Brisbane, but what we have is something much more powerful and much more special and that is a respect and appreciation for each other, for our backgrounds, for our religion.”
Around the corner at Pillars of Light, festivities illuminated Fed Square, with guest speakers, musical performances and special menorah lightings attracting hundreds of attendees.
With themes for each of the eight nights ranging from inclusivity to reconciliation, organiser Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann said, “Bringing together varied communities through hope, positivity and love … has been a phenomenal display of multiculturalism and diversity.”
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Governor Linda Dessau and Lord Mayor Sally Capp took to the stage to mark the first night of the festival on Sunday.
Dessau said, “Chanukah focuses on how a little light can dispel the darkness. It is a time of renewal, rededication, hope and optimism. It celebrates collaboration and togetherness. I thank everyone involved … for bringing this important message to all Victorians.”
Capp added, “Whether or not you observe Chanukah, there is beauty and meaning in its origins for all. Light triumphing over darkness, faith in miracles and victory in the face of adversity.
“There has never been a more important time to come together and celebrate these important lessons as we emerge from the past two years and reflect on the acts of care and compassion that have brought us closer as a community.”
For more info on Pillars of Light and to book your free ticket, visit fedsquare.com/events/pillars-of-light.