Australian gov’t hosts Jewish wedding


The halls of the Australian federal government were used as a chupah for the first time.

Michael Danby, a Jewish member of parliament, married Amanda Mendes Da Costa on Sunday in Canberra before about 150 guests, including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, his deputy, Holocaust survivors and Jewish community leaders.

The Marble Hall and the Queens Terrace were used for the official ceremony, while a kosher dinner was held at the Mural Hall.

As Canberra’s Jewish community is so small – it has no rabbi and or ritual slaughterer – three Orthodox rabbis flew in from Melbourne to officiate and two truckloads of kosher food made the 410-mile trip to feed the guests.

“It really makes you appreciate the country we are living in, that the prime minister comes and dances a hora at a Jewish wedding in parliament,” Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick told JTA.

Mendes Da Costa, a descendant of Marranos, recently converted to Judaism. Danby, 53, has two children from his first marriage. He has been a parliament member since 1998 representing Melbourne Ports, a heavily Jewish area.

Danby, who has worn a yarmulke at his four swearing-in ceremonies, has been a staunch defender of Israel in parliament and has railed against some anti-Israel elements.

His father, Kurt Danziger, was a German Jew who was arrested during Kristallnacht in November 1938, but was freed when Danby’s grandmother – who subsequently perished at Auschwitz – bribed the SS.

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