Date: 21/10/2020
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Hanukkah in Martin Place, Sydney, Australia: Lamps Shedding Light Amid Fields of Flowers

For thirty years during Hanukkah a large Hanukkah lamp-stand has been set up in Martin Place, Sydney, Australia, and ceremonially lit amidst much celebratory partying.

This year, the ceremony and partying were cancelled because of the actions of a Muslim who - obeying the Quranic injunction to "terrorise them" and taking to heart the teachings and example of Mohammed who proclaimed (according to the canonical Hadiths) "I have been made victorious by terror") - attacked a cafe, held 17 non-Muslim Sydneysiders hostage, forced some of his hostages to display in the cafe window a black flag inscribed with the Shahada, and ultimately murdered two of the hostages before getting killed by police.

However, Sydney's branch of Chabad still set up the menorah, and its lights are burning steadily by night, one and two and three and four, one added each successive night, above the fields of flowers.  And amongst all those bunches of flowers there is a second, small menorah.

Hanukkah in the city of Sydney, 2014.

As reported by the Times of Israel, among others.

'Menorah honoring terror victims erected in Sydney'

'Chabad sets up 32-foot menorah following deadly siege of Australian cafe.

(click on the link to see a picture - CM)

'Chabad set up a menorah in downtown Sydney as a tribute to the victims of a terrorist attack.

'The 32 foot menorah was erected late Thursday night in downtown Sydney, just hours after Chabad cancelled its annual candle-lighting ceremony in the wake of the terror attack that killed ended with three people, including the assailant, killed.  The Menorah has been used for Hanukkah lighting ceremonies for nearly 30 years.

'At the foot of the Menorah is a message that reads - "The Jewish community of Australia expresses our deepest sympathy for the families of the Martin Place tragedy. May the lights of the Festival of Hanukkah bring comfort and warmth to our nation".

'Erecting the menorah sends a message even in the absence of the lighting ceremony, said Rabbi Elimelech Levy, the director of Chabad Youth NSW and coordinator of the annual Hanukkah in the City celebration.

'"Whilst the event was cancelled, the presence of the giant menorah sends a powerful message that light will always overcome darkness", Levy said. "As we mourn the loss of life and the atrocity that has taken place, people of goodwill will continue to shine the light of freedom and communal harmony, which is what the Hanukkah menorah is all about."

Freedom, yes. But sometimes one must fight to defend freedom and indeed life itself, and that too is what Hanukkah tells us.  It tells us - "have faith and be brave!" - CM

'The menorah was scheduled to be erected Monday night, but was postponed because of the siege at the Lindt chocolate cafe.

'Man Haron Monis, a self-styled Iranian cleric (let's just leave out the "self-styled" - he was an Iranian cleric, a Shiite who decided to join the "strong horse" and become a Sunni Muslim - CM) held almost 20 people hostage before the 16-hour siege ended in a shootout.

'On Thursday two Chabad rabbis joined an interfaith gathering at the memorial site which has become a sea of tens of thousands of flowers.

'Rabbi Levi Wolff gave a yarzheit candle to Ken Johnson, the father of Tori, who was killed trying to subdue the terrorist.

"I told him that Tori is one of God's tallest candles, and that he has lit up a nation with his brave act", Rabbi Wolff told J-Wire, a local Jewish website."

And here is the J-wire story, by Henry Benjamin.

"Menorah in Martin Place

'The Chanukah celebration organised in Sydney's Martin Place, the scene of this week's siege, was cancelled in respect to those who lost their lives; but the giant menorah has been erected and carries a message to all Australians.

'Chabad has constructed the 10 metre high Chanukah Menorah in Martin Place in the same place it has stood annually for the last thirty years...

'After lengthy discussion and consultation with the authorities and communal leaders the decision was made to cancel the Chanukah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in Martin Place, scheduled for the third night of Chanukah, Thursday 18 December...

'In Martin Place the Menorah quietly sheds its light on one of the darkest moments of Sydney's history."

The large Menorah is answered by a smaller one placed amidst the flowers, in lieu of a wreath (click on the link immediately below, to see a picture).

"A Menorah as Memorial to Sydney Terror Attack.

'Emissary couple joins those paying their respects at Martin Place site.

'The Menorah stood out amid a sea of flowers as a gentle reminder that light can dispel darkness, and that goodness still exists.

'It was a message that Rabbi Levi Wolff, chief minister and spiritual head of Sydney's Central Synagogue, and a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, hoped to pass along Tuesday morning when he and his wife, Chanie, visited Martin Place, site of the recent terror attack on a local cafe. The area was filled with Australians paying their respects.

"Many of my congregants and [community] members work and own businesses within the area where tragedy struck, and my wife and I felt strongly that there needed to be a visual Jewish representation there today while the country was still mourning, and the eyes of the country and the world are on that very spot", said Wolff.

'Given that Chanukah, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil, was just a few hours away, Wolff said that bringing a menorah - his wife brought flowers as wel - was appropriate...'.

And, finally, some commonsense and clearheadedness from the rabbi of the synagogue of Coogee, east Sydney, which I found just now on the synagogue website.

'Coogee Synagogue Newsletter 27 Kislev - 19 December 2014.

"Think Again - # we'll walk with Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson'.

"I went to visit the makeshift shrine at Martin Place today.  The overall sombre tone in the air was one of sadness, grief, and a lot of forgiveness.

'I however felt anger and I wanted to shout out that this has been happening ot my people for so long; but it is unfair to judge someone else's grief.

Yes. anger.  At last, someone prepared to state that anger is appropriate.  Anger was what much of the public rhetoric surrounding this vicious little jihad raid has sought to suppress.  And anger - healthy anger, anger that fuels a courageous response to naked evil - is what Hanukkah is also about. - CM

'The absolute senseless deaths and the fact that a city was closed down, helped me to understand the commandment (Deuteronomy 25:17) - "Remember that which the Amalekites did to you".  It seemed that the Torah was condoning hate and anger against a particular group of people, the Amalakites and all its descendants, in every generation till the end of time. Every generation, it seemed, developed an Amalakite group to oppose and hate.

'But how can you command to hate?

'The Torah understood well the vagrancies of human nature; there is a time to love and there is a time to hate.

'Sometimes it is correct to have anger and hate, when faced with evil.

"It becomes a mitzvah to express the core emotion of disgust and abhorrence, in the face of evil.

"It is why the Bible references evil in so many passages and on so many occasions, as if to remind us that evil does exist and that it is our task to oppose, resist and confront the wickedness of evil.  The Torah finds good reason to "Remember that which the Amalakites did".

'The alternative is tyranny, repression and bigotry. Winston Churchill famously said, "All it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing".

I am not sure who precisely said those words, but they are true irrespective of who said them. - CM

'This week Australia awoke to the news for the first time confronted with the insidious brutality and viciousness of evil terrorism on its own soil.

"We had two hostages dead, many injured, and the entire nation left bewildered.

'The images of a black Muslim flag juxtaposed with Lindt's Merry Christmas greeting and terrified cafe staff pressed against the window.

'It was news that Jews are only too familiar with.

'One can only remember the pain of 9/11, Bali (the Bali jihad bombing in 2002 - CM) and the brutal deaths only three weeks ago in Har Nof.

'Terrorism is the targeting of civilians in the name of a philosophical ideology, a cause that is somehow more virtuous than life itself. But how can a cause be greater than life? Life is godly and sacred, so how can you have a cause that is greater than God and Allah himself.

Dear rabbi: here alone, you slipped up in an otherwise refreshingly honest commentary.  You should not have mentioned allah, because allah commands and loves death, the death of its followers and the death of the despised non-Muslim untermenschen who in the Quran are described as "the worst of beasts".  The remote and capricious and despotic allah of the Muslims - who is admiringly described as "the best of deceivers", who does not love his grovelling slaves and does not keep covenant - has nothing whatsoever in common with the life-giving, covenant-keeping, invincibly faithful YHWH of the Bible, the Holy One of Israel. - CM

'Nothing, no ideology can justify terrorism.  It is good that our Bible condemns Amalek and the awfulness of Evil.

Yes.  I would argue that in our time and indeed for the past 1400 years one of the most thoroughgoing and dreadful and extravagantly-murderous manifestations of "Amalek" has been the Ummah, or mohammedan mob, the Empire of Islam. - CM

'What happened in Martin Place on Tuesday was pure and simple evil.

Yes. - CM

"To be sure it was an act carried out by a crazy self-styled imam, but it was fuelled by the ideology of fanaticism, hatred and jihad.

In other words, to cut a long story short: Islam, which Winston Churchill in his book "The Story of the Malakand Field Force" summed up as "the religion of blood and war".  The first chapter of that book - especially the portions that deal with Islam, and jihad - should be required reading for all non-Muslim religious, political and military leaders, world-wide. - CM

'But the whitewash of Sheik Haron Monis has begun in the media; he is being portrayed in the news as a "lone madman" and "violent criminal". These descriptions are not strictly untrue, but first and foremost he was a terrorist fuelled by fanatical ideology.

That is: he took Islam fully to heart. - CM

'He brought Sydney and most of the nation to a standstill. Australia has never seen anything like this before.

'When it comes to those of us who mourn Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, it is no consolation that he was mad, crazy, and that he acted alone.

Or that he is believed to have acted alone; we do not know for sure that that was the case. He saw himself as part of the Ummah; he had crossed over from the Shiite to the Sunni branch of that body. - CM

'Monis was a Muslim extremist (a devout Muslim - CM) who had a Facebook following in the thousands, and cleverly planned this terror act in the Lindt cafe with bullet-proof windows, opposite Channel 7 [news headquarters - CM].

'His deed struck down two people who will now never come home to their loved ones, cut down in their prime, who were yesterday full of hopes and dreams for the future.  And there are others who will bear the scars for the rest of their lives, most of them invisible.  One does not simply "return to normal" after such an experience.

'Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson are heroes.  They died trying to save others, but they were just regular normal good people. Tori had been the manager of Lindt cafe for the past two years and Katrina Dawson was a successful lawyer married with three young children, living in our city of Randwick.  She and her husband were good friends of some of our co-religionists. There is only a small degree of separation amongst us.

'There seems to me to be an unseemly haste in declaring our solidarity with the Muslim community,

(hear, hear! - CM)

who have certainly rightly condemned this act.

At least in public. What the Muslim mob in Australia may be saying to one another in private, when the dirty unbelievers are not listening, might be another story; I hope that AFP and ASIO are keeping a weather ear open on all their wiretaps.  The good rabbi, though wiser than many others in Australia, is here being rather too trusting. - CM

'But where is the anger of (at - CM) the Amalakites?

'The # I'llridewithyou campaign seems to be a response of victimhood, and that Australians are somehow to blame and we are at fault for causing anti-Muslim bigotry.

You nailed it, rabbi. - CM

'There has been an outpouring of grief and mourning by the placing of flowers at Martin Place.

'The Jewish custom is to light a candle.  We light a yahrtzeit candle and place the memorial candle in a prominent position when remembering a loved one. The candle is a metaphor that life never ceases and that the soul is not extinguished.

'As we light our Chanukah candles it too becomes a metaphor of defiance against tyranny.

Yes! Yes! Yes! Let us defy and resist all those who would drag planet earth down into the bottomless pit of a global caliphate ruled by despots and subject to the institutionalised sadism of the unlaw that is the Sharia of Islam, total and totalitarian. - CM

'The Chanukah light is our response to darkness.  It illuminates the message of hope and the battle for life.

'We refuse to live in fear, and we will continue to buy our coffee in Lindt cafes and our chocolate in Max Brenner stores.

'When we light our Chanukah candles this year here in Australia we are going to light one for the memory of #I'llwalkwithToriJohnsonandKatrinaDawson, whose souls will never be extinguished.

As always, 

l'chaim, and see you in shule.

Elozer Gestetner."

'Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson: May their memory be a blessing."

Seconded, rabbi. -  C