“FOR the Jewish community in Victoria, this year’s High Holy Days will be very different,” reflected Prime Minister Scott Morrison in a pre-recorded video address to Night to Unite, a pre-Yom Kippur online event held on Tuesday by the Rabbinical Association of Australasia (RAA).
“The traditions and practices of these High Holy Days have been disrupted, so their essence is more important than ever,” the PM stated. “We’ve been reminded of our fragility also, and like the sounding of the shofar, we’ve felt the call to rediscover our best selves.”
Referring to the teachings of former Commonwealth Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Morrison said that “the ultimate call of the Jewish faith is to choose life”.
“That’s what you’re doing this year … by supporting your neighbours, maintaining social distancing, washing your hands, watching out for your elderly loved ones, those in your community, giving your all as essential workers and doing, of course, your share for your community and indeed your country.
“None of us knows what the future will hold but we know there’s great strength in reflection, prayer and charity, that’s my experience. So on these High Holy Days, I say to my Jewish friends in Victoria and all across Australia, ‘May you be inscribed in the Book of Life’. And in choosing life, may you have hope, purpose and strength for the year ahead.”
The pre-Yom Kippur Zoom event was organised by RAA president Rabbi Yaakov Glasman to prepare the Jewish community for a Yom Kippur like no other in Victoria’s history, on which shules will be closed and worship will be at home. The event featured speakers from every Australian state and territory and from New Zealand.
Billed as “an evening of pre-Yom Kippur inspiration”, the virtual gathering was addressed by keynote speaker Rabbi Nir Gurevitch of the Gold Coast Hebrew Congregation.
Online followers heard the soulful chants of chazan Brett Kaye of St Kilda Hebrew Congregation.
Rabbi Glasman said before the event that Night to Unite would be an opportunity “to bring together Jews from all around Australia as well as our fellow Jews ‘across the ditch’ for an evening of togetherness and unity”.