Australia’s PM kindles Hanukkah lights at Sydney synagogue

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull preparing to leave the airport after his arrival for the the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2015.  (Aaron Favila/AP Images)

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arriving at the airport in Manila, Philippines, for an international conference, Nov. 17, 2015. (Aaron Favila/AP Images)

SYDNEY (JTA) — Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia participated in the Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the Central Synagogue in Sydney.

Turnbull lit the center, or shamash, candle of the menorah and held it during the blessings, passing it to Cantor Shimon Farkas to light the eight candles on Sunday, the last night of the holiday.

At the synagogue, the prime minister spoke to an audience of over 500 about the threat of terrorism and how information technology would be the next boom in Australia, saying the boom “is based on a path that Israel has trodden for us and set such a great example.”

Turnbull said that the message of Hanukkah was not only a Jewish message but “one for the whole world.”

Speaking of the terrorism threat facing the world, he said: “We stand up to this threat not wringing our hands, not frightened … because that’s what the terrorists want us to be. They want us to change the way we live. They want us to change our values. They want us to turn on each other. They want the majority of the population to turn on the Muslim community in Australia. We should do none of that.

“We have to remain a strong, united, multicultural society standing up for our values. Strength and courage will overwhelm the fear that these terrorists try to inspire in us. We are too strong for them and we will always be too strong for them.”

Following his address, Turnbull joined a group of children to play with dreidels.

“He scored a few gimmes,” Rabbi Levi Wolff of the Central Synagogue told JTA.

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