Australia’s capital gets first official rabbi to lead Jewish community


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — The Jewish community in Australia’s capital inaugurated its first official full-time rabbi.

Rabbi Alon Meltzer, 26, of New Zealand will lead the Australian Capital Territory’s National Jewish Memorial Center in Canberra.

Meltzer was inaugurated last week by Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, and becomes the first rabbi in the community’s 63-year history. The Jewish center houses Orthodox and Reform services.

“I realize that this is an appointment of national significance,” Meltzer said.

Canberra has about 1,000 Jews live — some 300 are affiliated with the Jewish center.

Peter Wertheim of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry called Meltzer’s inauguration “a watershed for the community and also a wonderful positive development for the whole of Australian Jewry.”

Rabbi Shmuel Feldman runs the Chabad community in Canberra.

Mirvis, on his first official visit to Australia as chief rabbi, also broke ground on land earmarked for an extension to the Jewish center.

The center also serves as a memorial to Jews who lost their lives fighting for Australia.

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