The giant Hanukkah menorah that has been installed annually in downtown Sydney for nearly 30 years was erected late Thursday night, just hours after Chabad canceled its annual candle-lighting ceremony in the wake of the terror attack that killed two Australians.
At the foot of the 10-meter-high menorah is a message that reads: “The Jewish community of Australia expresses our deepest sympathy for the families of the Martin Place tragedy. May the Lights of the festival of Hannukah bring comfort and warmth to our nation.”
The menorah was scheduled to be erected Monday night but the siege at Lindt chocolate café had forced the CBD into lockdown. Man Haron Monis, a self-styled Iranian cleric, forced almost 20 hostages to take turns holding up a flag bearing the Shahada – the affirmation of the Islamic creed – at the window, before the 16-hour siege ended in a shootout.
Rabbi Elimelech Levy, the director of Chabad Youth NSW and coordinator of the annual Hannukah in the City celebration, said in a statement Friday: “Whilst the event was cancelled, the presence of the giant menorah sends a powerful message that light will always overcome darkness.
“As we mourn the loss of life and the atrocity that has taken place, people of goodwill will continue to shine the light of freedom and communal harmony, which is what the Hannukah menorah is all about.”
(Credit: Dan Goldberg)
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On Thursday, two Chabad rabbis joined an interfaith gathering at the memorial site, which has become a sea of tens of thousands of flowers.
Rabbi Levi Wolff gave a yarzheit candle to Ken Johnson, the father of Tori, who was killed trying to overthrow the terrorist.
“I told him that Tori is one of G-d’s tallest candles and that he has lit up a nation with his brave act,” Rabbi Wolff told J-Wire, a local Jewish website.