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The Opening and Dedication of our new Sanctuary

New sanctuary for Emanuel Synagogue

J-Wire 17 May, 2018

A large crowd assembled in Sydney to celebrate the opening and dedication of the new sanctuary at Emanuel Synagogue this week.

Politicians from Federal and State Parliament, local councils, interfaith leaders and a host of supporters and members gathered to inspect the ultra-modern addition to the Woollahra campus.

In what might well be a first for a large communal function, it started on time and ended earlier than advertised.

After a spirited Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony conducted by Uncle Lexie, an Aboriginal Elder of the Gadigal clan of the Dharug nation, visitors entered the new space, resplendent in red carpet, exposed red metal beams and modern lighting with an integrated sound system.

CEO Suzanna Helia acknowledged the support of Woollahra Council. She paid tribute to the efforts and vision of past president Rodney Brender and to all donors, large and small, who shared the vision to enable the building “to become a reality”.  The building, which also incorporates a state of the art preschool, is named in honour of major donor Millie Phillips.

Architect of the project, Ed Lippman, explained the religious significance of the building’s design.  Synagogue President Louise Thurgood-Phillips said that while the building “was a long time in the making” the trust and patience of the community made it worthwhile.

Standing in for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Lucy Turnbull gave a warm address in which she noted the “shared destiny and common future” of all Australians and that this inclusive space was one where all Jews could come together.

“It is all about community” she said.

Admiring the beauty of the building, State MP Gabrielle Upton said that the Emanuel Synagogue is “all about inclusiveness, warmth, social conscience and cohesion”.

Senior Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins noted that is it now 80 years since Sydney’s first Progressive congregation was formed, built at at a time when synagogues in Europe were burning.  He spoke of future plans to construct another more intimate sanctuary and reinforcing the synagogue as a “spiritual community centre, a place to live, to learn and to love”.

Also joining in the celebrations was Walt Secord, the deputy leader of the NSW opposition.

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Photographs by Bob Trijbetz

Tue, 21 January 2020 24 Tevet 5780