THE third annual Police Remembrance Service hosted by the NSW Jewish community was held last Friday night at Central Synagogue.
Police Chaplain Rabbi Mendel Kastel told The AJN the evening was very well attended and garnered positive feedback.
“The community were very happy to be able to show their appreciation to the police,” he said.
“I think the police were grateful to see that the community has come out to show their appreciation. And I think that everybody getting into the spirit of the Friday night service was quite special.”
This was the first time NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione has attended the service.
“He spoke wonderfully on the importance of working together with the community and recognising the commitment that police make to the job,” Rabbi Kastel said.
“Deputy Commissioner [Nick] Kaldas read out the valedictory, the names of those that passed away, including NSW police employee Curtis Cheng, as well as a local sergeant who passed away this year.”
Rabbi Kastel said it was particularly poignant holding the service so soon after Cheng was killed.
“It brings it home considering it was only three weeks before, at around the same time that he was gunned down, and the funeral was only last week, so it was very, very recent and very raw,” he said.
The rabbi himself told the story of a Jewish man named John Harris, who in colonial times formed what would become the precursor for the NSW Police Force.
“And I spoke about the commitment that police make and our appreciation for it,” he added.
The event also saw the launch of a new Shabbat Pack – a joint project of Jewish House and Montefiore Home – which will be made available to Jewish police who are unable to spend Shabbat with their families.
Prior to Shabbat coming in, several police including Scipione and Kaldas joined in dancing the hora with shulgoers. “Everybody got involved, which was just fantastic,” Rabbi Kastel said.
Other dignitaries attending included NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton and Jewish MP for Heffron Ron Hoenig.