SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Two Torah scrolls were dedicated in Victoria’s state parliament before being led through the streets by the commonwealth’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, to Melbourne’s oldest functioning synagogue.
Sunday morning’s service celebrated the 155th anniversary of the East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, the only synagogue in the city center.
Sacks told more than 400 people packed into the historic sanctuary that even the Koran refers to Jews as the "People of the Book."
The chief rabbi’s last official visit to Australia before he steps down in September from the post he has held for two decades already has included whistlestop tours of Perth and Sydney.
At Sydney’s Great Synagogue last week he spoke of the world becoming more religious.
”But obviously within certain areas of faith, the momentum is with those who are hostile to the contemporary world and I think that is bad news for all of us,” he said during a public conversation broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Sacks urged people to have ”unflinching self-confidence” in their beliefs.