The chief rabbi of Sydney’s Chabad-Lubavitch movement blessed Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
U.S.-born Rabbi Pinchus Feldman presented a menorah to Rudd before more than 600 people Friday at the Yeshiva Center, Chabad’s headquarters in Bondi.
In blessing the prime minister, Feldman recited a prayer for the nation’s leaders. Feldman, a Kohen, also bestowed the priestly blessing on Rudd.
“The menorah is a symbol of light,” said Rudd, who was making his third public address to the yeshiva. “It is about the Jewish people’s tradition, in the words of the biblical prophet Isaiah, of being ‘a light unto the nations’ and illuminating this world with acts of goodness and kindness."
Chabad has a longstanding tradition of presenting a menorah to political leaders.
After his address Rudd, who also baked challah during his visit to the Yeshiva Center, received a standing ovation.
Eli Feldman, one of Feldman’s sons, told JTA: “The menorah is a symbol of the yeshiva, a symbol of Jewish life."
“Rudd’s outdoing John Howard,” he said, referring to the extraordinary support Israel and the Jews received under the 10-year rule of Howard’s now-opposition Liberal Party. In March, Rudd led a bipartisan parliamentary motion congratulating Israel on its 60th anniversary.