SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A giant sand sculpture in the shape of a chanukiyah was carved on Australia’s most famous beach.
More than 600 people — including federal, state and local lawmakers — gathered Sunday at Bondi Beach in Sydney to watch sand sculptor Steve Machell carve the eight-branched candelabra into the sand. It measures about 11 yards wide by 11 yards long.
Machell, who has been sculpting in the sand since 1998, also carved giant dreidels.
At sundown, federal opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, who revealed in October that his mother told him she may have come from Jewish lineage, lit the shamash. Jewish House Crisis Centre executive director Rabbi Mendel Kastel, who initiated the idea, lit the first candle.
Kastel, a Lubavitch chasid who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., told JTA, “Openly celebrating the message of Chanukah at such an iconic beach, at one of Sydney’s landmarks, was really special.” He said he believed it was the first-ever such sand sculpture.
In another apparent first in Australia, an ice menorah was erected at Martin Place in the central business district on Monday night near the Yeshiva Centre and lit by Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, the chief rabbi of Lubavitch in New South Wales.
The ceremony began after a procession of more than 100 cars with giant chanukiyahs on their roofs crossed Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge.
In Melbourne, thousands of Jews on Sunday night watched the annual fireworks display hosted by Rabbi Joseph Gutnick.