Chanukah lights up Melbourne

The organisers of Chanukah in the Racecourse with the attending politicians. Photo: Peter Haskin

IT was a Chanukah party the likes of which Melbourne had never seen before as an estimated 10,000 revellers converged on Caulfield Racecourse last Sunday for a magical evening of entertainment.

Chanukah Miracle Kingdom, which replaced the annual Chanukah in the Park fireworks event, was abuzz as families, politicians and communal leaders enjoyed an evening of festive entertainment.

Along with rides, funfair games, a motorbike stunt show, a snow land and delicious food, there was a ­spectacular circus show with stellar international artists stunning children and adults alike with their juggling, magic and highwire acts.

Decorations, food and atmosphere reflected the theme of the miracle of lights as every aspect of the racecourse was transformed for the occasion

Among the VIPs enjoying the entertainment were Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, federal Member for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby, Member for Caulfield David Southwick and shadow minister for multicultural affairs Inga Peulich, who joined the hundreds of spectators who gathered to watch the annual lighting of the giant chanukiah.

Organised in under a week, coordinator and Chabad Youth’s Rabbi Moshe Kahn said the event exceeded their wildest expectations.

“It was spectacular … I think the highlight was that there was something for everyone. It was a real family event – rides for teenagers, shows for the young and old, everyone was joyous and happy.

“As kids walked in the Magical City you could see their jaw drop and the circus was really beautiful,” he told The AJN.

Reflecting on the success of the evening, Rabbi Kahn said Chanukah Miracle Kingdom was a testament to the community, highlighting its resilience in the wake of Chanukah in the Park’s cancellation over security concerns.

“What stood out is the strength of the community. We took a negative and turned it into a positive. We turned out in the thousands to make it a success; it’s a tribute to our community and it’s a tribute to Australia.

“We have to thank the CSG, Hatzolah and Victoria Police for having a such a presence and for creating a safe environment.”

He enthused that the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive, with attendees blown away by the intricate details, the entertainment and the energy.

“The feedback from the community is clear – this event was on a different calibre than Chanukah in the Park, it was in a different league.

“People loved the way we transformed Santa’s Magical Kingdom to the Chanukah Miracle Kingdom – Santa came down and menorahs came up. We really put in the effort and people appreciated it.”

Identifying his personal highlight, Rabbi Kahn said, “Seeing the trapeze artist walk along the tightrope and light the menorah was really, really amazing.”

Discussing next year’s event, Rabbi Kahn said the planning committee would have more time to prepare, adding, “We’re definitely doing it again at Caulfield Racecourse.”

The racecourse event was one of a number of Chanukah celebrations organised by shuls, schools and other communal organisations over the past week,with many more set to take place across the city in the days ahead.

See pictures in this week’s AJN.