SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
CHANUKAH ON THE HILL
10 DECEMBER 2020
Distinguished guests in this Parliament, ladies and gentlemen.
It's been said that all Jewish festivals are similar and can be summarised as "they tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat". But that's actually rather a crude summary and I think that there's a wonderful richness and variation across the Jewish festivals. And to me Chanukah has always been a particularly uplifting celebration.
Of course, it's the case this celebration of independence called the Festival of Lights has a ring of happiness to it. It's got a ring of happiness to it because it's very much a festival for kids as well. But there's more to it than that. The coincidences of Chanukah with Christmas ensures that the happiness of the Festival of Lights is side by side with Christmas celebrations. And coming at the end of the year, Chanukah occurs alongside our end of year celebrations and the happiness we feel at the prospect of spending a long stretch of time with family and friends over our summer holidays.
It's particularly poignant this year because we are going to be able to get together. Anthony (Albanese) mentioned it in his speech, it's particularly poignant this year for people from Melbourne because we have not been able to get together and it's good to see people from places other than Melbourne, like my Leader, can understand that it's been pretty difficult for those MPs from Melbourne and those staff who are here from Melbourne who know just how difficult it has been.
So it's not just the prospect of spending time together with people over the holidays. There's one more aspect of Chanukah that brings happiness to me and it arises from the way the Festival of Lights frequently coincides with the end of the Parliamentary year, as it does today - tonight's the first night of Chanukah - putting aside our differences and the often bruising political contests that we've been engaging in all year and to instead celebrate, in particular, our shared belief in, and our commitment to Australia, as a nation that welcomes, respects, and nurtures people, cultures and religions from all over the world. I'd go so far as to suggest that here today members of all political parties can stand and embrace the idea of the "Light on the Hill".
I wish you all chag sameach and a wonderful break over the summer.