Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg joined members of the Jewish Community for an Erev Pesach service at the Ark Centre in Hawthorn East last Friday.
Frydenberg welcomed Morrison to the occasion, and thanked him for being “such a strong, genuine friend of the Jewish people,” to which the crowd of congregants gave a hearty “hear, hear.”
Frydenberg elaborated, “Whether it’s your steadfast support for Israel, or whether it’s your understanding of our festivals, or whether it is standing firm in the face of rising antisemitism, here and abroad, you have been a genuine friend of Israel and the Jewish people.”
Morrison addressed those gathered, thanking the centre’s Rabbi Gabi and Rebbetzin Mushka Kaltmann, as well as his “Jewish friends all across the county”.
As a passionate follower of the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Morrison made reference to his teachings during his address, saying he was “a very wise man,” as he said “as you come together to celebrate Passover, teach your children the history of freedom, if you want them to never lose it”.
Morrison added, “I think Passover is so much about that, teaching our children, we can become complacent about freedom, we can become complacent about our prosperity.
“We can become complacent about so many things that we could take for granted as a country as amazing as Australia, where so many have come and found freedom and found prosperity.
“Communities come together, celebrate Passover, and you gather around the seder table. It is a time to remember that all of these things never came easily, and there were those who went before us to ensure that we can enjoy them in this country.”
Morrison shared that there is “something very special about the Jewish community,” that being the “deeply held belief in the dignity of every single human being”.
“It’s a belief in both the frailty of every human being as well as their strength, and appreciating the frailties of others and the vulnerabilities of others, we understand the vulnerabilities and frailties of ourselves,” he said.
A Pentecostal Christian, Morrison spoke broadly about the importance of faith, saying, “Our faith inspires us, and we share it with our children so our children and our communities never forget, never, ever forget the incredible price that has been paid for our freedom and our liberty, and the wonderful life we’re allowed to live in this country.”
Rabbi Kaltmann told The AJN, “It was wonderful to host the Prime Minster at the ARK Centre on Erev Pesach along with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and his wife Amie.
“For too long Jewish people around the globe have been afraid and unable to practise their Judaism openly. Hosting a sitting PM in synagogue celebrating the holiday of our freedom was a historic moment in our community.”
Kaltmann shared that Passover is “the formative story of the Jewish people” which has “shaped us as a collective for millennia”.
“Sadly, this still remains such a relevant message as we are reminded every day how fragile freedom can be,” he said.
Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim said that Australia’s political leaders, especially the current Prime Minister, “are always welcome in the Jewish community”.
“Prime Minister Morrison’s affinity with, and regard for, the Jewish community is long-standing and genuine. His interest in Judaism reflects a growing tendency for faith communities in Australia to broaden and deepen their relations with each other,” he said.
“The fact that the start of Pesach, Easter and Ramadan coincided this year has helped to emphasise our common interests and values.”
In his address, Frydenberg also noted the fact that this year the three Abrahamic religions have overlapping holidays for the first time in more than 30 years.
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