Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spent the past few days in Sydney on a historic visit. It’s the first time since the State of Israel has been established that a sitting Prime Minister has visited our shores.
I was privileged to attend two events with PM Netanyahu and PM Turnbull. The first was on Wednesday night at Central Synagogue. The energy in the room was electric as both leaders took to the podium and expressed their friendship towards each other and their support to each other’s countries. It was an impressive evening of warmth, solidarity and inspiration. Our countries truly share many of the same values and the opportunities for even greater cooperation are ever growing.
On Thursday Chana Raizel and I accompanied the Year 6 delegation from Mount Sinai to Moriah College where both PM’s addressed Jewish Primary and High school students from across Sydney. The atmosphere at this event was very different. The students – ever-eager and sincere – literally couldn’t hold back their excitement and they ran towards the PM’s with their hands held high! And the PM’s couldn’t get enough of them either. Turnbull impressed upon them the importance of believing in themselves to achieve their dreams while Bibi expressed his desire for them to take pride in their rich Jewish heritage and come to visit Israel.
I must admit I was taken by the genuine warmth that each of the Prime Ministers displayed towards each other. They weren’t just two statesmen playing the diplomatic game. They seemed to be true and real friends who enjoy each other’s company and want to make real and lasting connections between their countries and peoples. I left these two events feeling extremely proud to be Jewish and extremely proud to be an Australian. It is true. Israel has no better friend than Australia.
I was particularly proud of so many of our Maroubra / Mount Sinai representatives who took part in these momentous events. I was proud of our own Saul Oberstein, Cami Hersch, Jared Goldberg, Gila Rudansky & Lauren Koseff for each playing important roles in the ceremony. We at Maroubra were well represented!!
As Jews, Israel has and will always serve as the locus of our thoughts and prayers. It features prominently in all of our prayer services and in nearly every single Parasha of the Torah. This week’s Parasha, Mishpatim, contains a beautiful verse regarding the blessings that will accompany those living in the land of Israel. “None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fill the number of your days” (Shemot 23:26). Elsewhere in Deuteronomy we are told how G-ds watchful eye is continuously on the land from one end of the year until the next. But we also believe that not only does G-d’s blessing flow to those in the land, but also to those who live outside yet live moral and ethical lives and to all those who support her.
I therefore hope and pray that G-d continues to bless Israel with prosperity and lasting peace and may her blessings flow outwards towards all of us in Australia as our governments move forward in strengthening our ties and in creating many more paths of cooperation.
This Shabbat we will be fortunate to hear about Israel from some of our year 10 students who have recently come back from Israel as part of IST (Israel Study Tour). We will also be farewelling our dear administrator, Mr Julian Cass, who will be retiring after more than a decade’s worth of service to our community. Please join us for what should be a special Shabbat.
Looking forward to seeing you in Shule,
Rabbi Yossi Friedman