“THE only way forward for our peoples is through open dialogue.”
That was the message from Izzat Salah Abdulhadi, the head of the Palestinian delegation to Australia, who visited the ACT Jewish Community Centre last Friday.
Invited by Canberra’s Rabbi Elhanan Miller, Abdulhadi toured the community sukkah and the permanent display of Jewish artefacts, and listened to an explanation on the traditions of Sukkot.
Today I had the pleasure of hosting His Excellency Izzat Abdulhadi, the Palestinian ambassador to Australia, at our Jewish Centre. We toured the Sukkah and spoke about the four species. He is the first Arab representative to visit our new wing, here's to many more! ???????? pic.twitter.com/1BJlG22Nr6
— Elhanan Miller אלחנן מילר (@ElhananMiller) October 9, 2020
“Sukkot is a festival when special guests, known as ushpizin, are traditionally invited into our temporary homes,” Rabbi Miller said.
After touring the centre, Abdulhadi noted that growing up he had no contact with Israeli Jews, and little access to their cultural and religious heritage.
Today, he added, he strives to build bridges with the Australian Jewish community, often briefing delegations from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies ahead of trips to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Last year, in an event called “One Land – Two People”, Abdulhadi spoke at Sydney’s Emanuel Synagogue alongside former Israeli ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer.
Reflecting on the visit, ACT Jewish Community honorary secretary Robert Cussel said, “The time we spent together provided a valuable opportunity to engage in conversation about our histories, hopes and dreams for a peaceful future.”
Rabbi Miller was appointed rabbi of the ACT Jewish Community at the beginning of this year.
In recent months he has hosted ambassadors and heads of delegations at the Jewish Community Centre from countries such as Austria, India, Germany, Ireland and Italy.