Australian government minister sworn in with Hebrew Bible


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Wearing a yarmulke and holding a Hebrew Bible, Josh Frydenberg was sworn in as Australia’s minister for resources, energy and Northern Australia.

It was the third time that Frydenberg, 44, had used the book, called a Chumash, to be sworn in to a government position, but the first time as a member of the federal Cabinet. The ceremony was held Monday morning.

The Bible was given to the Liberal politician by Sir Zelman Cowen, Australia’s second Jewish governor-general, who died in 2011. Cowen, who held the post from 1977 to 1982, was known to be a mentor to Frydenberg.

The Cabinet reshuffle was a result of the change in Australia’s political leadership when Malcolm Turnbull was elected prime minister by the Liberal Party last week following a challenge to Tony Abbott.

In 2013, Frydenberg was appointed as the parliamentary secretary to Abbott. The following year he was sworn in as Australia’s assistant treasurer. He used the Chumash for both swearing-ins.

Frydenberg lives in his native Melbourne and, like Turnbull, represents Kooyong, which is home to a large Jewish community.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry published a special open message for Frydenberg.

“Both personally and on behalf of the Australian Jewish community, we wish to convey our heartiest Mazal Tov on your promotion to the Cabinet as Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia,” ECAJ President wrote Robert Goot and Peter Wertheim, the president and executive director, respectively. “The entire Jewish community takes immense pride in your achievement.”

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