Visitor lights a candle at memorial to Sydney attack victims
Visitor lights a candle at memorial to Sydney attack victimsReuters

Chabad in Sydney has set up a menorah as a tribute to the victims of last week's terror attack. 

The attack began when an Islamist gunman took dozens of people hostage at the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in central Sydney. Several captives managed to escape before police stormed the cafe 16 hours later.

In the shootout that followed, two victims were shot and killed, as was the terrorist, Man Haron Monis, a self-styled Iranian cleric. 

In the wake of the attack, Chabad cancelled its annual candle-lighting ceremony, and decided to erect the menorah as a memorial, instead. 

The 32-foot menorah, which has been used for Hanukkah ceremonies in the city for nearly 30 years, was put up late Thursday night in downtown Sydney. The menorah was scheduled to be erected Monday night but was postponed because of the attack. 

At the foot of the menorah is a plaque 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 Hannukah bring comfort and warmth to our nation.”

In the absence of the lighting ceremony, erecting the menorah sends an important message, said Rabbi Elimelech Levy. Levy is the director of Chabad Youth NSW and the 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.”

Also on Thursday, two Chabad rabbis participated in an interfaith gathering at the memorial site, which has become home to tens of thousands of flowers. 

Rabbi Levi Wolff gave a yarzheit (memorial) candle to Ken Johnson, whose son Tori 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 news website.