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SOLIDARITY WITH ISRAEL

Taree church invites Jew for Chanukah

Pastors and congregants at Taree's Manning Valley Covenant Ministries are praying for Israeli hostages in Gaza

The Manning Valley Covenant Ministries congregation holding an Israeli flag and small posters of Israeli hostages, in early December.
The Manning Valley Covenant Ministries congregation holding an Israeli flag and small posters of Israeli hostages, in early December.

Jewish resident of Taree, Kay Le-Roi, received the most heartwarming – and surprising – personal invitation in early December to an event celebrating the first night of Chanukah, as the venue for it was a local church.

“One of the congregants of Manning Valley Covenant Ministries, through her son who is a work colleague of mine, invited me to come to the church as a special guest, to light a candle on the first night of Chanukah – I couldn’t believe it,” Le-Roi recalled to The AJN on December 15.

“And sure enough, when I attended, they had a menorah there, and a candle for me to light – it was amazing.

“They also have an Israeli flag displayed permanently inside their hall, along with the Australian flag.

“And they told me that the Sunday prior, every congregation member was given a poster of one of the Israeli hostages being held captive by Hamas, and that particular person was the one they would make a personal prayer for.

“They know all the hostages by name, and they are committed to praying for Israel being successful [in its objectives] in this current military operation [in Gaza].”

Congregation members continued to light another candle for each remaining night of Chanukah.

Candle lighting during Chanukah at Manning Valley Covenant Ministries, in Taree, NSW.

Originally from Sydney, Le-Roi moved from Bowral to Taree a few years ago, and although she receives visits from road-tripping rabbis from Chabad of Rural and Regional Australia – including just a few months ago – she said it can feel isolating being a Jewish person living in Taree.

“That’s why it was truly a wonderful experience to light the first candle for Chanukah, surrounded by people – here in Taree – who are supportive of, and stand up for, Israel,” she said.

“My daughter, Jessica, made Aliyah several years ago, and she is very upset about hearing about the antisemitism incidents in Australia at the moment.

“These are difficult times for Jewish people everywhere, including myself, so this [the church’s solidarity with Israel] has really lifted my spirits.”

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